Locked in or locked out, or ‘la vita della cose’: Gender, agency and (dis)embodiment in Primo Levi and Nicoletta Vallorani’s Speculative Fiction

Charlotte Ross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Many of Levi’s speculative stories narrate dystopian scenarios in which individuals express anxiety about the creeping power of technology which is reifying and auto-mating their posthuman bodies, affecting their physical and psychological freedoms. This article develops previous scholarship with a specific focus on the gendered dimension of Levi’s writing. I show how he critiques the problematic ways in which technologisation impacts specifically on women’s bodies. With a view to tracing the contemporary echoes of Levi’s work, I place his stories in dialogue with Nicoletta Vallorani’s recent, more explicitly feminist novels. I argue that Vallorani’s writing echoes and develops many of Levi’s concerns about how technology can be employed to con-strain our bodies and consciousness, and the explicitly gendered dimensions of this oppression. A critical reading of these texts alongside one another reveals striking resonances and confirms how Levi’s intuitions regarding the importance of critiquing unfettered technologised embodiment remain urgently relevant today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91–104
Number of pages15
JournalEnthymema. International Journal of Literary Criticism, Literary Theory and Philosophy of Literature
Volume33
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2023

Keywords

  • Primo Levi
  • Gender
  • Agency
  • Embodiment
  • Nicoletta Vallorani

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