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New Queer South: Perspectives on Italian Society and Culture

Organization: University of Oxford
Categories: Gender & Sexuality, Literary Theory, Women's Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Mediterranean
Event Date: 2023-09-21 to 2023-09-22 Abstract Due: 2023-04-30

New Queer South: Perspectives on Italian Society and Culture

Conference organized by Alice Parrinello (Oxford)


21-22 September 2023

University of Oxford


Keynote Speaker: Dr Charlotte Ross (Birmingham)


Since the Italian Unification, the depiction of Italy’s Southern regions has been marked by a widespread rhetoric of backwardness, which was famously summarised by Antonio Gramsci as “sud palla di piombo” and was developed alongside an image of productivity and industriousness connected to the North. The North and South dichotomy is characterised by time-framed divisions of modernity and backwardness, which connect the North with notions of liberal modernization and “Europeanization”, contrasting them to a South characterized by underdevelopment, archaic family structures and uncontested patriarchy (Ponzanesi and Polizzi 2016; Schneider 1998).

Throughout the years, this view has been opposed in the works by several scholars, such as Franco Cassano, whose pensiero meridiano promoted “an epistemological motion through which the south begins to think about itself on its own, reconquering the ancient dignity of subject of thought” (2001, 2). Numerous scholars are now linking an epistemology of the South to a discussion of Southern Italian societal structures through queer and feminist theory and are seeing the North and South binary, rather than a “divide”, more as a dialectic (Acquistapace et al. 2016; Ammaturo 2019; Ferrante 2019; Polizzi 2022). Crucially, this trend is tellingly reflected in today’s Italian artistic practices, such as in the works by theatre and film director Emma Dante, writer Mario Desiati, director Ferzan Özpetek, and graphic novelist Fumettibrutti, to name a few.

While the aforementioned artists are now mainstream figures in the Italian panorama, a conference on the queer South aims to provide the ideal ground for the study of the overall epistemological change. The conference will not only trace the cultural history of the Italian North and South divide, but it will also investigate how the binary is being challenged through an interdisciplinary queer perspective. Queer theory, due to its deconstructing approach, provides the ideal toolkit for an analysis that could result into a wider reconfiguration of not only the South, but also of Italian notions of culture and history.



Papers presented at the conference may focus on, but are not limited to:


·      Italy’s Southern question and its representation in any media (novels, graphic novels, films, tv series, etc.)

·      Sicily, Southern Italy, and the Global South

·      LGBTQIA+, queer, and gender perspectives of the South of Italy

·      Feminism, feminist approaches, and postfeminist approaches to the South

·      Migration, borders, national identity, and transitions

·      Posthumanism, human and nonhuman representation, collapse

·      Multimedia art practices, female gaze

·      Emma Dante, Mario Desiati, Fumettibrutti, Ferzan Özpetek, etc.



Please submit a 250-word proposal abstract and a 100-word biographical note to newqueersouth@gmail.com by the 30th of April 2023. Notifications of Acceptance will be sent out by the 20th of May 2023.


Proposals should be original and based on work yet unpublished and not under consideration by any other publisher. Proposals are welcome both in English and Italian. Colleagues from all levels (including postgraduates) are welcome to apply.


The conference is sponsored by the Association for the Study of Modern Italy (ASMI) and by the Society for Italian Studies (SIS).


Alice Parrinello