Italian Women Writers: Gender and Everyday Life in Fiction and Journalism, 1870-1910

By Katharine Mitchell

© 2014

Post-Unification Italy saw an unprecedented rise of the middle classes, an expansion in the production of print culture, and increased access to education and professions for women, particularly in urban areas. Although there was still widespread illiteracy, especially among women in both rural and urban areas, there emerged a generation of women writers whose domestic fiction and journalism addressed a growing female readership. This study looks at the work of three of the most significant women writers of the period: La Marchesa Colombi, Neera, and Matilde Serao. These writers, whose works had been largely forgotten for much of the last century, only to be rediscovered by the Italian feminist movement of the 1970s, were widely read and received considerable critical acclaim in their day. In their realist fiction and journalism, these professional women writers documented and brought to light the ways in which women participated in everyday life in the newly independent Italy, and how their experiences differed profoundly from those of men.

Katharine Mitchell shows how these three authors, while hardly radical emancipationists, offered late-nineteenth-century readers an implicit feminist intervention and a legitimate means of approaching and engaging with the burning social and political issues of the day regarding “the woman question” – women’s access to education and the professions, legal rights, and suffrage.  Through close examinations of these authors and a selection of their works – and with reference to their broader artistic, socio-historical, and geo-political contexts – Mitchell not only draws attention to their authentic representations of contemporary social and historical realities, but also considers their important role as a cultural medium and catalyst for social change.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.0in x 9.4in
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SKU# SP003589

  • PUBLISHED JUN 2014

    From: $53.25

    Regular Price: $71.00

    ISBN 9781442646414
  • PUBLISHED MAY 2014

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    Regular Price: $71.00

Quick Overview

Italian Women Writers looks at the work of three of the most significant women in late nineteenth century Italy whose domestic fiction and journalism addressed a growing female readership.

Italian Women Writers: Gender and Everyday Life in Fiction and Journalism, 1870-1910

By Katharine Mitchell

© 2014

Post-Unification Italy saw an unprecedented rise of the middle classes, an expansion in the production of print culture, and increased access to education and professions for women, particularly in urban areas. Although there was still widespread illiteracy, especially among women in both rural and urban areas, there emerged a generation of women writers whose domestic fiction and journalism addressed a growing female readership. This study looks at the work of three of the most significant women writers of the period: La Marchesa Colombi, Neera, and Matilde Serao. These writers, whose works had been largely forgotten for much of the last century, only to be rediscovered by the Italian feminist movement of the 1970s, were widely read and received considerable critical acclaim in their day. In their realist fiction and journalism, these professional women writers documented and brought to light the ways in which women participated in everyday life in the newly independent Italy, and how their experiences differed profoundly from those of men.

Katharine Mitchell shows how these three authors, while hardly radical emancipationists, offered late-nineteenth-century readers an implicit feminist intervention and a legitimate means of approaching and engaging with the burning social and political issues of the day regarding “the woman question” – women’s access to education and the professions, legal rights, and suffrage.  Through close examinations of these authors and a selection of their works – and with reference to their broader artistic, socio-historical, and geo-political contexts – Mitchell not only draws attention to their authentic representations of contemporary social and historical realities, but also considers their important role as a cultural medium and catalyst for social change.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.0in x 9.4in
  • Reviews

    ‘In this groundbreaking study, Mitchell analyzes some domestic fiction and some non-fiction pieces – especially journalism and essays – of three middleclass Italian women who were professionally active between 1870 and 1910.’


    C. De Santi
    Choice Magazine, vol 52:02:2015

    ‘Mitchell’s book remains a valuable addition to the scholarship on Italian women writers for the issues raised and their well-articulated discussion.’


    Ioana Raluca Larco
    English Studies in Canada vol 41:03:2015

    ‘Mitchell’s study is a scholarly work of undoubted value… This volume will not only appeal to scholars of Italian studies but also of women’s writing and women’s studies in general.’


    Tristana Rorandelli
    SHARP News August 21, 2016

    Katharine Mitchell offers an invaluable, comprehensive assessment of three pivotal nineteenth-century writers whose works were largely unstudied until the 1970s: La Marchesa Colombi Neera, and Matilde Serao.’


    Monica Streifer
    Modern Language Review vol 111:04:2016

    Italian Women Writers is a thorough, persuasive, and informative account of women writers and journalists in liberal Italy. Mitchell’s scholarship is meticulous. There is nothing comparable – in clarity, content, or incisiveness – in either English or Italian.”
    Lucia Re, Professor of Italian and Gender Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

    “Katharine Mitchell’s work combines new archival research on the writing of three well-known post-unification Italian women writers, Serao, Neera, and La Marchesa Columbi, with thought-provoking close analyses of their journalism and domestic fiction.”
    Carol Lazzaro-Weis, Professor of French and Italian, University of Missouri
  • Author Information

    Katharine Mitchell is Lecturer in Italian in the School of Humanities at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgements 
    Preface

    Introduction: Culture, gender, and the everyday in the new Italy
    Chapter One: Italian Domestic Fiction, its Readers, and Writers 
    Chapter Two: Journalism, Essays, Conduct Books
    Chapter Three: Gendering Private and Public Spheres 
    Chapter Four: Freeing Negative Emotions
    Chapter Five: Female Friendships, Sibling Relationships, Mother-Daughter Bonds
    Conclusion

    Appendix
    Bibliography
    Index

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