Aesthetic Modernism and Masculinity in Fascist Italy: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Aesthetic Modernism and Masculinity in Fascist Italy

1st Edition

By John Champagne


232 pages | 10 B/W Illus.

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Aesthetic Modernism and Masculinity in Fascist Italy is an interdisciplinary historical re-reading of a series of representative texts that complicate our current understanding of the portrayal of masculinity in the Italian fascist era. Examining paintings, films, music and literature in light of some of the ideological and material contradictions that animated the regime, it argues that fascist masculinity was itself highly contradictory. It brings to the fore works that have tended to be under-studied, and argues that, while fascist inclusive strategies of patronage worked to bind artists to the regime, an official policy of non-interference may inadvertently have opened up a space whereby the arts expressed a more complicated and contestatory view of masculinity than the one proffered by kitsch photos of a bare-chested Mussolini skiing.

Champagne seeks to evaluate how the aesthetic analysis of the artefacts explored offer a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of what world politics is, what is at stake when something – like masculinity – is rendered as being an element of world politics, and how such an understanding differs from more orthodox ‘cultural’ analyses common to international relations.

Providing a significant contribution to understandings of representations of masculinities in modernist art, this work will be of great interest to students and scholars of gender studies, queer studies, political science, Italian studies and art history.


"…this is a compelling, rich, and provocative study that provides plenty of food for thought and invites further investigation in this vein. " Charlotte Rose, Universty of Birmingham, Modern Language Review

Table of Contents

Introduction: Beyond Virility, Chapter 1. Fascism, Modernism, and the Contradictions of Capitalism, Chapter 2. Pirandello Fascista? Modernism and The Theater of Masculinity Chapter 3. The Dandy, the Mystic, and the Tonalists: Italian Modernist Painting and the Male Body Chapter 4. “A Glimpse Through an Interstice Caught: Fascism and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedescos Calamus Songs” Chapter 5. Giorgio Bassani and Italian “Queers” of the 1930s” Conclusion: “Beyond” Fascism?

About the Author

John Champagne is an Associate Professor of English at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College, and a Visiting Professor of Communications at John Cabot University, Rome. He writes on gender and sexuality in modern culture; a critic and novelist, he is the author of three previous books.

About the Series

Popular Culture and World Politics

The Popular Culture World Politics (PCWP) book series is the forum for leading interdisciplinary research that explores the profound and diverse interconnections between popular culture and world politics. It aims to bring further innovation, rigor, and recognition to this emerging sub-field of international relations.

To these ends, the PCWP series is interested in various themes, from the juxtaposition of cultural artefacts that are increasingly global in scope and regional, local and domestic forms of production, distribution and consumption; to the confrontations between cultural life and global political, social, and economic forces; to the new or emergent forms of politics that result from the rescaling or internationalization of popular culture.

Similarly, the PCWP series wishes to provide a venue for work that explores the effects of new technologies and new media on established practices of representation and the making of political meaning. It encourages engagement with popular culture as a means for contesting powerful narratives of particular events and political settlements as well as explorations of the ways that popular culture informs mainstream political discourse. The PCWP series promotes investigation into how popular culture contributes to changing perceptions of time, space, scale, identity, and participation while establishing the outer limits of what is popularly understood as ‘political’ or ‘cultural’.

In addition to film, television, literature, and art, the PCWP series actively encourages research into diverse artefacts including sound, music, food cultures, gaming, design, architecture, programming, leisure, sport, fandom and celebrity. The series is fiercely pluralist in its approaches to the study of popular culture and world politics and is interested in the past, present, and future cultural dimensions of hegemony, resistance and power.

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