Egypt, Jerusalem, Libya: Departure and Desire in Italian Women’s Writing

7e691395-4ce5-4204-a0b8-a994f7053800Patrizia Sambuco (Monash) will give a talk in English on ‘Egypt, Jerusalem, Libya: Journey through Italian Women’s Writing, 1890-1930’ at the Italian Cultural Institute, 233 Domain Road, South Yarra on Thursday 14 May at 6.30pm (admission free but reservation essential). The talk will tell the story of two Italian women writers, Matilde Serao and Pina Ballario, and the record of their encounters with people and places in the Middle East. At the beginning of the 1890s Matilde Serao was a solo traveller to Egypt and Jerusalem and published a travel book of her journey, Nel Paese di Gesù, which enjoyed extraordinary popularity. Pina Ballario, during the fascist period, wrote a successful novel, Fortuna sotto vento, set in colonial Libya. Both books represent the spirit of their time (pilgrimage and the Orient for Serao, and fascist ideology for Ballario) but have now almost faded into obscurity. The books hold a continuing interest, however, in the way they represent not only the reality of the time but also the unspoken desires of the authors. Both writers seek a life less ordinary, impossible for women within the culture of their time, but crucial to an understanding of their stories.

Patrizia Sambuco is the Coordinator of the Italian Studies Major at Monash University and founder-organiser of the initiative Research in Italian Studies in Melbourne (RISM). Before moving to Australia she studied and taught in Italy, England and Scotland. Her areas of specialisation concern modern and contemporary literature and culture, with an emphasis on women writers, cinema, and gender theories. In particular she has worked on the daughter-mother relationship in 20th century women’s writing, on cultural representations of space and travel writing, and on gendered approaches to food and cinema. Her current research lies within the Italian colonialist period.

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