Sussex Centre for Language Studies

Conference on Resistance in Italian Culture: Literature, Politics and Film

The Sussex Centre for Language Studies and the School of History, Art History and Philosophy at the University of Sussex are proud to host the UK & Ireland Society for Italian Studies Themed Conference 'Resistance in Italian Culture: Literature, Politics and Film', 5-6 April 2018.

This conference will explore the theme of resistance in Italy looking at the literature, politics and aesthetics of innovation and subversion in Italian culture from Dante to the present. Whilst we hope to re-examine what one might designate as the classical Resistance (1943-45), we are equally interested in examining the ideas and practices challenging domineering tradition, illegitimate power and status hierarchies from early modern Italy up to now. 

Register on our online shop

  • Delegate fee: £95 (lunch and refreshments for both days included)
  • Postgraduate fee: £80 (lunch and refreshments for both days included)
  • Conference dinner on Thursday 5 April: £38
  • Registration closes on Sunday 4 March 2018.
  • All speakers must be members of the Society for Italian Studies.

The conference organisers are Dr Ambra Moroncini (University of Sussex, lead contact), Prof Darrow Schecter (University of Sussex) and Prof Fabio Vighi (University of Cardiff). 

Please email with any enquiries.

Resistance to received ideologies, political conflicts and preconceived literary ideas has been a distinctive mark of Italian culture and society. From a literary point of view, one only needs to think of Dante as the poet of exile and resistance to the Pontiff's policies; of Boccaccio's women's resistance to traditional gender representation in his Decameron; of the Renaissance paradoxical praises (i.e. the encomia of the burlesque poets) which transgressed the canonical model of lyrical style of the 'Petrarchisti'; of the Classicist / Romantic debate of the early 19th century; of Manzoni's resistance against injustice and of his "distrust of the ideological masquerades of power"; of Sibilla Aleramo's early feminist novels; of Calvino's own reflections on the difficulties, in post-war Italy, of creating a national literary role model; of other 20th century authors such as Franco Fortini, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Giorgio Caproni, who used parody, irony and controversial thematic and linguistic choices to oppose nationalistic rhetoric. Much closer to our time, the global success of Elena Ferrante's novels has highlighted that fiction which might favour popular writing over a highly erudite discourse may find some resistance to being accepted as valuable literature in Italian academic debates. Politically, the Italian Resistance leading up to and following WWII can be seen as resistance to political dictatorship in the first instance. The lives and works of Gobetti, Matteotti Gramsci and the Rosselli brothers, to name but a few, are indicative of this civic and political impegno. But, as the works of Beppe Fenoglio, Natalia Ginzburg, Elio Vittorini, Roberto Rossellini, Renato Guttuso, Stefano Benni, Franca Rame, Dacia Maraini, Oriana Fallaci, Nanni Moretti, Daniele Lucchetti, Marco Tullio Giordana and many others suggest, the Resistance in Italy was and continues to be literary, cinematographic and artistic. That is, it can be argued that in the 20th century, the theme of resistance pervades Italian artistic, civic, and political life. It is at work in the best neorealist cinema, informs the protest movements of the autunno caldo and the demands of the movimento di liberazione della donna, and, somewhat polemically, can be seen as a driving force during the anni di piombo. More recently, opponents of Berlusconi and Renzi describe their commitment to transparency in public life as a form of resistance to undemocratic manipulation of information and political decision-making.