Nineteenth-Century Italian Women Writers and the Woman Question focuses on the literary, journalistic, and epistolary production of the Italian woman writer Neera, one of the most prolific and successful women writers of late nineteenth-century Italy. This study proposes to bring Neera out of the shadows of literary marginality to which she has long been confined by analyzing her contribution to literary and cultural debates as testimony to the pivotal role she played in the creation of a female literary voice within the Italian fin-de-siècle context. 

Drawing from the Anglo-American feminist critical tradition; modern Italian feminist theory on the maternal order and sexual difference; and a close reading of Neera’s literary, theoretical and epistolary writings, this volume examines this writer’s work from a three-pronged perspective: as a promoter of a maternal order in contrast to the existent paternal order, as one of few women writers to participate actively in Italy’s verismo movement and as epistolary correspondent of leading representatives within fin-de-siècle Italian literary and journalistic circles. 

Nineteenth-Century Italian Women Writers and the Woman Question represents the first monographic volume in English dedicated exclusively to this important Italian woman writer, repositioning her within the Italian literary landscape and canon.

Professor Catherine Ramsey-Portolano received her Ph.D. in Italian Literature from the University of Chicago and is currently Associate Professor and Program Director of Italian Studies at The American University of Rome in Rome, Italy.  Her principal areas of research are Gender Studies, 19th & 20th-century Italian women writers, and Italian film, particularly from the early and fascist periods. 

She has published articles on Italian cinema, such as Luchino Visconti’s 1941 film Ossessione and Carmine Gallone’s 1917 film Malombra, Igino Ugo Tarchetti’s novel Fosca, the representation of masculinity in Pietro Aretino’s Renaissance play Il Marescalco and Italian women writers, particularly Neera but also Sibilla Aleramo, Fausta Cialente, and Dacia Maraini. 

She co-edited a special issue of The Italianist dedicated to Neera, entitled Rethinking Neera (2010), and edited the volume The Future of Italian Teaching: Media, New Technologies and Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives (2015).

Ramsey-Portolano has also published Performing Bodies: Female Illness in Italian Literature and Cinema (1860-1920) - a publication exploring how female illness was portrayed in Italian literature and early cinema, making the case that being sick had its advantages - sometimes even offering the female protagonist a way to become the master not only of her body but also of her story and destiny.
You can read more about the publication here.

Join the Ottocentismi  Zoom lecture on Friday the 28th of January via this link.
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