Eccentricity and sameness. Discourses on lesbianism and desire between women in Italy, 1860s-1930s

Research output: Book/ReportBook

5 Citations (Scopus)


Dispelling widespread views that female same-sex desire is virtually absent from Italian literature and cultural production in the modern era, this groundbreaking study demonstrates that narratives of lesbianism are significantly more numerous than has been previously asserted. Focusing on texts published between 1860 and 1939, the author traces and analyses the evolution of discourses on female same-sex desire in and across a wide variety of genres, whether popular bestsellers, texts with limited distribution and subject to censorship, or translations from other languages. All the works are considered in relation to broader socio-cultural contexts. The analysis uncovers a plurality of different sources for these narratives of lesbianism and desire between women, showing how different layers of discourse emerge from or are reworked in and across several genres. From scientists who condemned the immoral and degenerate nature of «Sapphic» desire, to erotic publications that revelled in the pleasures of female same-sex intimacy, to portrayals of homoerotic desire by female writers that call (more or less obliquely) for its legitimization, these texts open up important new perspectives on discourses of sexuality in modern Italy.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford and Bern
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages308
ISBN (Electronic)9783035306989, 9783035397574
ISBN (Print)9783034318204, 3034318200
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Publication series

NameItalian Modernities
PublisherPeter Lang


  • Italy
  • lesbianism
  • literature
  • 19th century
  • 20th century

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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