La Marchesa Colombi, Matilde Serao, Neera: forging a female solidarity in late nineteenth-century journals for women

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Abstract

The last two decades have seen the publication of studies on women writers from late-nineteenth-century Italy that have sought to reinstate their proper place in the Italian literary canon. This article examines the journalism of three such writers who wrote about common themes in their fiction and non-fiction. Through an examination of a selection of their journalism, I demonstrate that when intended for a predominantly male readership this typically upholds the status quo vis-à-vis women's 'proper' roles as wife and mother. Yet the writers' contributions to journals intended for a female readership are revealing of their concern for, and sympathy with, the social and psychological pressures affecting ordinary women in their daily lives (for example arranged marriages, women's legal subordination to men, their confinement to the 'private' sphere of the home and their limited access to education and to the professions). These issues were of the utmost concern to the campaigners of the nascent movement for female emancipation. Thus far, critics have indicated a disjunction between the fiction of women writers and their journalism. I argue here that this disjunction only holds when the writers are producing journalism addressed to a non-gender specific readership. For, while women writers do not explicitly address the notion of a female solidarity in their journalism, through a reading of their contributions to journals for women, an unarticulated, covert solidarity among them becomes evident.
LanguageEnglish
Pages63-84
Number of pages22
JournalItalian Studies
Volume63
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008

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solidarity
journalism
nineteenth century
writer
readership
women's role
emancipation
sympathy
Solidarity
Journalism
critic
wife
Italy
marriage
profession
examination
Women Writers
Writer
Readership
education

Keywords

  • women writers
  • ordinary women
  • daily lives
  • female solidarity

Cite this

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abstract = "The last two decades have seen the publication of studies on women writers from late-nineteenth-century Italy that have sought to reinstate their proper place in the Italian literary canon. This article examines the journalism of three such writers who wrote about common themes in their fiction and non-fiction. Through an examination of a selection of their journalism, I demonstrate that when intended for a predominantly male readership this typically upholds the status quo vis-{\`a}-vis women's 'proper' roles as wife and mother. Yet the writers' contributions to journals intended for a female readership are revealing of their concern for, and sympathy with, the social and psychological pressures affecting ordinary women in their daily lives (for example arranged marriages, women's legal subordination to men, their confinement to the 'private' sphere of the home and their limited access to education and to the professions). These issues were of the utmost concern to the campaigners of the nascent movement for female emancipation. Thus far, critics have indicated a disjunction between the fiction of women writers and their journalism. I argue here that this disjunction only holds when the writers are producing journalism addressed to a non-gender specific readership. For, while women writers do not explicitly address the notion of a female solidarity in their journalism, through a reading of their contributions to journals for women, an unarticulated, covert solidarity among them becomes evident.",
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