Tag Archives: Risorgimento

How mid-19th century Italy saw America

250px-August_Pollak_Un_ballo_in_mascheraOne of the items now added to Routledge’s European Studies Open Access site is Axel Körner‘s ‘Masked faces: Verdi, Uncle Tom and the unification of Italy’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies 2013, 18 (2): 176-189). He explores Italian images of, and attitudes towards, the United States in the mid-19th century, focusing on two very popular and influential theatrical representations of life in the New World which left an important mark on Italian views of the United States during the later Risorgimento: Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Un ballo in maschera (1859), and Giuseppe Rota’s ballet Bianchi e neri (1852), based on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. As Körner points out, Italians did not always look at life in America as a political, social or constitutional model; and if in the eyes of many Italians the United States became an epitome of modernity later in the nineteenth century, they did not necessarily identify with the particular model of modernity America stood for.

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Recent Risorgimento scholarship

cmit20.v019.i02.coverKeen to keep pace with scholarship on the Risorgimento? The latest issue of Modern Italy (vol.19, issue 3, 2014) has a substantial section of reviews by leading scholars of recent books on several of its aspects. They follow a group of articles on Fascism and nature (sample title: ‘Making Italians out of rocks: Mussolini’s shadows on Italian mountains’), covering Italy and its African colonies, parks, the environment and leisure. The official encouragement in 1939 to get people to do more by way of ‘sweaty exertions’ in skiing and swimming, to be practised in full combat gear, did not fall entirely on deaf ears but failed to generate the levels of skill thought necessary for adequate defence of the patria on land and sea.

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News from the journals – May

The latest issue of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies (2013, no.2) is a special issue with the title ‘Mediating the Risorgimento’. rmis20.v018.i02.coverIts focus is the way in which historical figures and the events in which they played central parts were represented and shaped by the media of the time – painting, photography, opera, theatre and panoramas. The most recent issue of Modern Italy (2013, 1) has an interesting set of articles on Italian cinema, in particular an analysis of the relation between the (pre-Grillo) commedia all’italiana and the other media of the 1960s, especially advertising. Revisiting Modern Italy‘s 2012 issues, two contributions to topics which have since appeared in our posts deserve highlighting in case they have been missed. Penny Morris, Francesco Ricatti and Mark Seymour edited a special issue on ‘Italy and the Emotions’ (2012, vol.17, no.2) which contains inter alia an explanation of Tottimania and its wider significance.  And for those captivated by Caterina Sinibaldi’s post on translating Alice during the Fascist period, Jomarie Alano (2012, vol.17, no.1) examines another story for children which, conceived in 1938 as a contribution to anti-Fascism, also has a decidedly non-conforming protagonist: Ada Gobetti’s Storia del gallo Sebastiano. 

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Mazzini and love

Ros Pesman   University of Sydney

The Italian Risorgimento was an event that crossed national and gender boundaries, arousing enthusiasm and garnering support well beyond the peninsula and from women as well as men. Nowhere was this enthusiasm and support stronger than in Britain with its

Giuseppe Mazzini 1805-1872

Giuseppe Mazzini 1805-1872

centuries-old fascination with Italy. When Garibaldi, not only a hero of Italian unification but also the world’s first international celebrity, visited Britain in 1864, an estimated 500.000 people lined the streets of London to greet him. But it is not Garibaldi who is the subject of my research, undertaken in an ARC-funded project on ‘La Bella Libertà: Women, Freedom and the History of Italy’ with Barbara Caine and Glenda Sluga.

My focus is on Mazzini and on the network of devoted supporters he created in Britain, composed of British nationals, Italian exiles and Italian residents in Britain, and particularly on its members who were women. This network comprised Mazzini’s most faithful and unswerving followers, the true believers.

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