Portrait of Dr Wissia Fiorucci

Dr Wissia Fiorucci

School Director of Education
Modern Languages Co-ordinator

About

Dr Wissia Fiorucci came to the University of Kent in 2007 to study for an MA by Research in Italian literature, which was awarded in 2009. Her thesis explored the connections between author Anna Banti and Italian feminism, through an analysis of three novels. 

In 2008 she co-founded Skepsi, the postgraduate research journal for the School of European Culture and Languages. Alongside the editorial board she organised several interdisciplinary and international conferences, one of which was held at the University of Kent's Paris School of Arts and Culture. She has organised two Italian studies conferences: Critical Approaches to Representations of Gender Violence in Contemporary Italy, which featured the participation of prominent author Dacia Maraini; and Representations of Organised Crime in Italy and Beyond.

In 2014 Wissia was awarded a PhD in Italian, with a thesis titled Italian Elements of Magic(al) Realism. Deledda, Bontempelli, Banti. Her research identifies elements of magical realism in the works of the authors Grazia Deledda (1871–1936), Massimo Bontempelli (1878–1960), and Anna Banti (1895–1985), within different socio-historical contexts. 

Wissia is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research interests

Wissia's publications include an article on the theme of the double in Anna Banti in Italian Studies (May 2015); an article on Massimo Bontempelli and censorship in Between, journal of the Italian Association for the Theory and Comparative History of Literature (2015) and a book chapter on gendered commitment in Italy today (Troubadour, 2015).

She has published articles on 20th century Italian literature and her current research interests focus on language teaching and learning in general.

Teaching

Wissia teaches modules on the Italian language.

Publications

Article

  • Fiorucci, W. (2018). A Woman’s Loss of Imagination: Paola Masino’s Magical Realism in Nascita e morte della Massaia. Italian Culture [Online] 36:120-135. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/01614622.2018.1485993.
    Criticism on Paola Masino has flourished since the early 2000s. This increased attention has contributed towards reclaiming an author often overshadowed by the attention received by her partner, Massimo Bontempelli, the father of realismo magico. Masino experimented with a variety of styles—realismo magico was one of them—as she rejected strictly naturalistic forms of representation, preferring to co-opt myths and the supernatural. Nascita e morte della Massaia (1945) is Masino’s most renowned literary effort, both for its critique of Fascist Italy and for its sophisticated stylistic effects. Nascita, while indebted to Bontempelli’s theorizations, features all the chief characteristics listed in Faris’s analysis of magical realism as an international phenomenon, and illustrates how magical realism offers strategies for evading censorship to those writing against totalitarianism regimes. At the same time, it is an example of how magical realism can be used to denounce socially imposed gender roles. My analysis shows how this narrative mode emerges on multiple levels within Masino’s text.
  • Fiorucci, W. (2015). Self-Censorship in Massimo Bontempelli’s Magical Realism. Between: Censura e auto-censura [Online] 5. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/1398.
    This article aims to investigate the interplay between censorship, self-censorship and the narrative strategies of magical realism in Il figlio di due madri by Italian author Massimo Bontempelli (1878–1960).

    Having been head of the National Fascist Writers Union from the mid- to late-1920s, critics have noted that Bontempelli’s detachment from the Fascist credo emerges in his work from the mid- to late-1930s. I intend to problematise this perspective, by recognising the significance of Il figlio di due madri (1929) in the development of Bontempelli’s anti-Fascist sentiment. This work preceded (by several years) Bontempelli’s official break with Fascism in 1936, when he published an article against the political control of the arts and caesarianism in La gazzetta del popolo. An anti-Fascist sentiment had, however, in my view already been expressed in Bontempelli’s works of magical realism Il figlio di due madri (1929) and Vita e morte di Adria e dei suoi figli (1930). These two novels deal with controversial topics that, I would claim, refute some of Fascism’s foremost principles, an appraisal that was disguised through deliberate acts of self-censorship. More precisely, it is through his deconstruction of mimetic writing that Bontempelli’s critique of the regime comes into existence, as the narrative strategies I deem instrumental to his self-censorship (e.g. authorial reticence, metaphor, mythopoiesis) reflect the poetics of magical realism in «its inherent transgressive and subversive qualities» (Bowers 2004: 63). By conveying a rejection of the systematised understanding of literature that Bontempelli associates with literary realisms, at the same time he conveys his ideological refusal of dogmatic views of reality. Thus, in his mystifying realism, magic acts as both a tool for concealing his ideology—a tool for self-censorship, that is—and as the very means by which this ideology can be generated.
  • Fiorucci, W. (2015). Disrupted Identities, Disrupted Realism : The Double in Anna Banti’s ‘Terrible Trilogy’. Italian Studies [Online] 70:249-268. Available at: http://doi.org/10.1179/0075163415Z.00000000098.
    The experience of the split self is a recurrent theme in Anna Banti’s narratives — one that is usually rendered through the literary trope of the double. This is the case with her group of works known together as the trilogia terribile — comprised of narratives (Il bastardo, 1953; Allarme sul lago, 1954; and La monaca di Sciangai, 1957) that centre around notions of duality. The double, with its inherent penchant for the dual, the paradoxical, the co-existence of opposites, and with its essentially anti-hegemonic character, is intrinsic to magical realism, on a thematic but also on a formal level. By analysing the double in Banti’s trilogia terribile, I will ascertain its subversive function, thus exploring the notion that magical realism, in trying to challenge binary oppositions and thus dualistic conceptions of certain aspects of human life, induces a disruption of conventional ideas about identity.

Book

  • Fiorucci, W. (2010). Anna Banti and the (Im)possibility of Love. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
    This book looks into Banti's stance on Italian feminism, with a specific focus on her interpretation of the concept of 'equality' as well as of 'sexual difference'. An analysis of a novel, 'A Piercing Cry' (1981), and two short stories, 'The Women Are Dying' (1951) and 'Je vous ecris d'un pays lointain' (1971), explores the aforementioned issues. The book also deals to some extent with the most famous of Banti's works, the magnum opus 'Artemisia' (1947). Because 'A Piercing Cry' is a source of autobiographical elements, which therefore are particularly significant, the conclusions drawn from this novel are later applied to 'The Women Are Dying' and 'Je vous ecris d'un pays lointain'. Certainly, 'A Piercing Cry' expresses Banti's faith in difference as being that which can preserve woman's identity. By declaring 'I am a woman writer', she distances herself from a feminism of equality that, not without oscillations, she had supported throughout Artemisia. In so doing, she embraces a feminism of difference by adopting this concept herself. Drawing on these considerations, the book argues that in both 'The Women Are Dying', and in 'Je vous ecris d'un pays lointain', Banti intended to support a personally elaborated and ante-litteram 'feminism of difference'.

Book section

  • Fiorucci, W. (2017). Gender Activism in Contemporary Italy. in: Women and the Public Sphere in Modern and Contemporary Italy: Essays for Sharon Wood. Leicester, UK: Troubador Publishing Ltd, pp. 171-184. Available at: http://www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=4780.
    In many countries across Europe, but especially in Italy, twentieth-century reforms failed to bring about any substantial displacement of a widely-accepted sexist culture. Movements that had aroused optimism and political expectations in the early 1970s (e.g. Movimento Liberazione Donna (M.L.D.), Fronte Liberazione Donna, and Rivolta Femminile) virtually disappeared within the decade. Apart from a few early 1980s cases, women’s activism ‘si era contratto nelle voci di poche donne’ (Rosetti 51) and the feminist movement, though not dead, disappeared from the public sphere. ‘Avanza[va]no […] gli anni Ottanta, il tramonto dell’era dei movimenti, il disimpegno, lo yuppismo, il velinismo’ (Pisa 3), and the discrepancy between changes in society and their translation into legislation kept increasing. The situation worsened in the following decade, ‘when forces advocating traditional roles of women and the family prevailed’ (Rosselli 9). Any improvement in civil rights was met with strong opposition and, for a long time, women’s representation in top decision-making positions in the political and public scene continued to be near-negligible (ibid.). The late 1990s-2000s saw improvements in gender equality, most provoked by EU Directives and the allocation of European funds, while the media, particularly TV, feasted on gender stereotypes and women as sexual objects. However, in 2009, a nationwide wave of reactions against this state of affairs arose, stimulated in part by the international climate but ultimately triggered by the sex-body-power nexus of the Berlusconi’s era. In 2009, a journalist from the Irish Times wrote: ‘Historians are sure to devote much time and space to […] Berlusconi. But [will] they […] attribute to the Italian prime minister the merit of having […] sparked the renaissance of Italian feminism?’ (Agnew, ‘Berlusconi’). In this essay I first examine the moments that preceded this outburst of protestation, showing that Zanardo’s video, credited with having triggered a nationwide response, was in fact supported by years of studies. I then analyse the velina question in more detail, highlighting similarities and differences between issues tackled by second-wave feminism and current concerns. I subsequently take a closer look at two experiences, namely those of SE NON ORA QUANDO (SNQ; a network of organised committees) and the congress PRIMUM VIVERE (PV; Paestum 2012, 2013). Despite being different in nature, they both exemplify some important aspects of today’s activism, particularly the immediacy of communication granted by the web, and the far-reaching impact of any initiative/activity favouring convergence of many different, individual, and collective realities. This, in both cases, has been a source of both strength and fragmentation. As noted by FemminilePlurale, the encounter and co-existence of different approaches, while a potential source of strength, has been rather a cause of division: ‘Può essere che siamo così pervase dall’idea che ci siano infiniti modi di essere femminista […], che non valga la pena […] confrontarci?’.

Edited journal

  • Arribert-Narce, F. et al. (2010). Pharmakon: Literature and Violence. Skepsi 3 (2)Co-edited volume of Skepsi. Arribert-Narce, F. et al. eds. 3 (2).
  • Arribert-Narce, F. et al. (2009). Ambiguities: Destabilising Preconceptions. Skepsi 2 (2)Co-edited volume of Skepsi. Arribert-Narce, F. et al. eds. 2 (2).
  • Arribert-Narce, F. et al. (2009). Graft and Transplant, Identities in Question. Skepsi 1 (1)Co-edited volume of Skepsi. Arribert-Narce, F. et al. eds. 1 (1).
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