Allied EncountersThe Gendered Redemption of World War II Italy

Allied EncountersThe Gendered Redemption of World War II Italy

Marisa Escolar

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780823284504

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Abstract

Allied Encounters: The Gendered Redemption of World War II Italy is the first-ever monograph to analyze cultural representations of Allied-occupied Italy, one of the war’s most unstable spaces. While the U.S. military viewed itself as a redemptive force, competing narratives emerged in the Italian imaginary. Both national paradigms, however, are deeply entangled with the gendering of redemption long operative in Anglo-American and Italian discourse, emerging from a Dantean topos that depicts Italy as a whore in need of redemption. Tracing the formation of these gendered paradigms and pointing to their intersection with sexualized and racialized identities, this book examines literary, cinematic, and military representations of the soldier-civilian encounter, by Anglo-Americans and Italians, set in two major occupied cities, Naples and Rome. Informed by the historical context as well as their respective representational traditions, these texts—produced during and in the immediate aftermath—become more than mirrors of the intercultural encounter or generic allegories about U.S.–Italian relations. Instead, they are sites in which to explore other repressed traumas—including the Holocaust, the American Civil War, and European colonialism, as well as individual traumatic events like the massacre of the Fosse Ardeatine and the mass civilian rape near Rome by colonial soldiers— that inform how the occupation unfolded and is remembered. In addition to challenging canonical interpretations of emblematic texts, this book introduces several little-known diaries, novels, and guidebooks.