English representations of Italians in the Risorgimento period : their use in the construction of nationality and masculinity

McAllister, A 2004, English representations of Italians in the Risorgimento period : their use in the construction of nationality and masculinity , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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This study examines the range of representations of Italians at the period when they were striving for their own nationhood, and interrogates such images to illustrate how the middle-class English reader thus constructed his own nationality and masculinity. Aspects of the relationship between the two countries at this period have been examined by other writers, or more general surveys have been carried out, but my specific focus enables links to be made between and across previously separated fields. There is a development visible within the thirty year period, as the events of the Risorgimento foregrounded Italians, and they seemed to vie with the English, they were increasingly represented in a more negative way and cultural authority was accorded to other nations. Taking masculinity and nationality as mutually constitutive and relational, I use theory from the fields of cultural theory, gender studies and sociology to inform my argument. I discuss representations, both verbal and visual, from two of the large circulation weekly publications appellating my target reader, Punch and the Illustrated London Neii's. I also examine the messages conveyed by intertextuality in a reader's experience, and refer to novels, travel writings, and paintings in which Italians play a significant part. The centrality of Victorian uses of history leads me to look initially at depictions of the Roman and Renaissance past of Italians. The cultural capital attributed to Italian pasts had to be contained and managed, as did Italian excellence in music and painting. The pastoral setting in which Italians were so often located answers several English needs, including the positioning of Italians as primitive -a theme also influential in their frequent representation as dirty, disreputable or amoral. Against this background, the representation of two key figures, Mazzini and Garibaldi, can be seen to summarise the English construction of Italians.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Depositing User: USIR Admin
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2017 14:27
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 20:41
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/42988

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