Spring ’09 course on Futurism at Wesleyan

Spring 2009 Semester
Graduate Level course at Wesleyan University

“Fascism, Futurism, Feminism: Forces of Change in 20th.-c Italy”

tought by Prof. Ellen Nerenberg

This course investigates three forces at work in Italy in the first half of the 20th century. We explore Italian Fascism, Futurism, and Feminism through a variety of media, including literary, cinematic, and artistic expressions and consider each movement in its socio-historical context. How does the radical annihilation of standard mores and culture proposed by the Futurists help pave the way for Italian Fascism? How does feminism in the first half of the century offer examples of resistance to both Fascism and Futurism? The texts we will consider include the paintings, sculpture, manifestoes and poetry of Futurism; Sibilla Aleramo’s early feminist novel Una donna as well as the writings of other Italian feminists resistant to the ultra violence and misogyny of Futurism and the instrumentalization of gender under Italian Fascism. We explore similarly varied texts representative of the Fascist era: examples of rationalist architecture and urban planning, Alberto Moravia’s novel of social mores during Fascism, Gli indifferenti, selections from political prisoner of the Regime Antonio Gramsci’s Quaderni del carcere and Lettere dal carcere, and at least one film made under the conditions (economic, industrial and propagandistic) of Fascism. Our goal is an understanding of the ideological dis/connections between Fascism, Futurism and Feminism in the Italian collective unconscious in an historical juncture of profound social, economic, and political transformations. By focusing on the interconnections of these forces we strive for a panoramic understanding of Italy as it moves to embrace modernity in the first half of the last century

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