Female Editorship in Italy and the Trans-Formation of the Public Sphere (Roundtable)


Italian / Women's and Gender Studies

Christina Bezari (Ghent University)

This roundtable proposal outlines possible avenues for theoretical reflection on the connections between the periodical press in Italy and the participation of women in the public sphere. Recent scholarship has defined periodical studies as a vibrant field of research which aims to explore the role of the press in the dissemination of knowledge, the circulation of ideas and the formation of culture (Jack Censer, 1994; Pierre Rétat, 2001; Hilary Fraser, 2003). Nevertheless, the participation of Italian women editors in the social, political and cultural discourse of their country and of Europe as a whole remains largely unexplored (Elena Brambilla, 2013). In fact, during the second half of the 18th century, the rise of the press in the Veneto region defined a new position for women’s access to politics and culture. Women such as Elisabetta Caminer Turra and Gioseffa Cornoldi became editors of monthly periodicals in order to create a space for representation, information and cultural mediation. In the 19th century, journals and periodicals became increasingly important mainly due to the tumultuous period of the Risorgimento when women editors such as Cristina Trivulzio di Belgiojoso and Giovanna Bertòla Garceà played a prominent role in Italy’s struggle for independence. After the country’s unification, women continued to have a strong presence in the press industry either as advocates of female education (e.g. Sofia Bisi Albini) or as proponents of labour rights (e.g. Emilia Mariani). By taking into account the larger sociopolitical context in which Italian women developed their editorial activities, this roundtable will provide new insights into the main characteristics and the impact of their journals. Last but not least, special focus will be set on the transnational character of the press and the contribution of women editors in taking the Italian language and culture beyond the borders.

This roundtable outlines possible avenues for theoretical reflection on the connections between the periodical press in Italy and the participation of women in the public sphere. Special focus will be set on two main areas: a) the genesis and the early development of the press in Italy throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, b) the emergence of female editorship and its contribution to the transnational exchange of ideas during the 19th and 20th centuries. We welcome interdisciplinary approaches that examine the impact of Italian women editors on science, art, literature, politics, fashion, and other related fields.