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  • Italian Contributions
  • M. Giulia Fabi

The intense activity of Italian scholars in national and international research networks has led to the publication of numerous collections of critical essays that reflect an engagement with a variety of critical methodologies and an emphasis on interdisciplinarity. In light of the increasing internationalization of American Studies, I will cite the essays by international scholars that have appeared in Italian publications. As evidenced also by several significant monographs and translations, 19th- and 20th-century American literature and ethnic American literatures remain privileged areas of investigation among Americanists in Italy. [End Page 489]

a. Essay Collections

The seventh volume of Abito e identità contains 12 essays that, as editor Cristina Giorcelli notes, were originally presented at a conference in Rome in 2005. The contributors approach U.S., Brazilian, and Italian culture from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The volume is enriched by photos and illustrations as well as by a conversation on accessories between Giorcelli and the renowned designer of the Maison Gattinoni, Guillermo Mariotto ("L'accessorio è un gesto," pp. 33–38). The essays on the U.S. cover a variety of historical periods and authors. Paola Colaiacomo ("Fashion's Model Bodies: A Genealogy," pp. 43–52) reflects on the "link between fashion and art . . . as a new type of knowledge about the body," specifically in Wilde and James as well as 20th-century authors such as McLuhan. In "Passing Indian Fashions (Cooper, Catlin)" (pp. 85–103) Michel Imbert problematizes the ways James Fenimore Cooper's and George Catlin's representations of the Native American shaman in a bearskin "contributed to fashion a national mythology in which the traditions of the natives were appropriated so as to become integral to the national folklore." Bruno Monfort's "Clothing the Marmorean Flock: Women, Statues, and Clothes in The Marble Faun" (pp. 107–26) concentrates on Miriam and Kenyon's discussion of sculpture to examine larger issues related to clothes and fashion as unreliable signs, including Hawthorne's characterization of Miriam, the politics of representation of female nudity, and Hawthorne's "constant claim that he aimed to escape the American insistence upon actuality." Emory Elliott ("Dressing to Impress in Melville's Typee," pp. 129–46) and Dominique Marçais ("'Life is a Pic-nic en costume': Clothes and Identity in Melville's The Confidence Man," pp. 147–58) examine Herman Melville's "preoccupation with the problems of self-definition, self-representation, and identity." While Elliott argues that Tommo provides strong but often critically neglected "attacks on Western imperialism and violence in the Pacific," Marçais examines how Melville "explores the limits of the clothes metaphor and at the same time the limits of language." Agnès Derail-Imbert ("'Imaginative Habits': Fantasies of Undressing in The Ambassadors," pp. 159–76) contends that the ability to read clothes is a crucial component of Strether's confrontation with Europe and that Henry James's "deployment of dress in the novel tends to show that the private—the corporeal, the intimate, or the sexual—is a function of appearances, or a product of representation." For Nellie Bly clothes enabled a masking necessary for her journalism. Cristina Scatamacchia ("Traveling Light: La borsa di Nellie Bly," pp. 179–203) focuses [End Page 490] on Bly's handbag to discuss the significance of the clothes she chose for her 1889 world tour. Arguing that Bly's extraordinary popularity resulted from her "original blending of traditional and innovative ideological stances," Scatamacchia illustrates Bly's cultural influence by noting how she inspired the representation of later popular icons such as Mary Poppins. Moving into the 20th century, Paula Rabinowitz ("Slips of the Tongue: Lesbian Pulp Fiction as How-to-Dress Manuals," pp. 207–30) analyzes postwar American lesbian pulp fiction to foreground the studio and department store as loci of "a complicated interaction among female desire for material objects and displays of the female body more or less sanctioned as cross-class encounters in public spaces"; Vittoria C. Caratozzolo ("Visioni di sandali: Il fascino delle calzature italiane sulla scena della moda internazionale del secondo dopoguerra," pp. 233–47) discusses how the admiration of fashion journalists Bettina Ballard and Diana Vreeland for Roman sandals contributed to the international reputation...


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