Chiasmi 2019

Queering Italian Studies

Pensieri e pratiche italiane di sovversione culturale

 Harvard University, 12th and 13th of April 2019


Chiasmi 2019 welcomes papers and practices that rethink identity politics in Italy and in its cultural forms, situated both in the cultural tradition and in the contemporary. It aims to suggest directions for queering Italian Studies while also tracing the tensions and trajectories of Queer Studies in Italy. In bringing together scholars, researchers, activists and artists, whether they be active within or independent from the Academy, we wish to stimulate a debate that, in Italy, remains outside the institutional discourse. Queering, phrased as a verb, was chosen to emphasize a reading approach, rather than an object of research or a fixed intellectual category. Following Carla Freccero’s argument that “all textuality, when subjected to close reading, can be said to be queer,” (Queer/Early/Modern, 5) we encourage approaches that see texts as queer and/or seek to queer texts. Some of the questions that this approach asks and that we are hoping to bring into Italian Studies are: How can queering the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, ability, class, regional and national identities shed new light on Italy’s past and present? What role do these marginalities and differences play in the construction and maintenance of Italy’s identity? What forms of oppression and resistance does the social organization of sexuality and discrimination produce in Italy’s cultural creations?


Queering Italian Studies is intended here as a radically anti-essentialist performative act which challenges heteronormative critical practices, focusing not only on LGBTQ communities and cultures, but more broadly on overcoming the traditional binarisms inscribed in Italy’s historical and cultural identity. The theme of the conference was also conceived as a possible response to the current political and cultural climate in Italy, where the pressure to marginalize and exclude is far from counterbalanced by a critical reflection capable of processing the changes taking place in contemporary society. We hope that the interdisciplinarity of this approach will bring together contributions from multiple areas of research, widening (and not limiting) the field of inquiry to:

  • Literature and identity politics rethinking
    • Gender, style and rhetoric in poetry
    • Queering the italian literary canon
    • Marginalized/forgotten women, trans and queer authors
  • Feminist, Trans and Queer art as activism: spaces of intervention, subjectivity, and agency
    • Performance, Theater and Dance
    • Visual art and photography
    • Art history: queering the canon
    • Portraits and self-representation of queer identities
  • Italian as a gendered language
    • Challenges queering the Italian language
    • New approaches in second language teaching
    • Translation and self-translation
    • Pronouns and identity
  • Queer identities / political discrimination / civil rights
    • Civil rights and gender equality in Italy
    • Gender identity discrimination in the workplace
    • Demonstrations, cultural associations, “centri sociali
    • Italiani? Migrations to, from and within Italy
  • Queering the gaze / the queer gaze and new media
    • Cinema, tv series, documentaries
    • Comics, graphic novels
    • Social media
  • Queering critique
    • Italian Thought
    • Italian feminist theory
    • Nomadic theory