Queering the Habitus: Lesbian Identity in Stancanelli's 'Benzina'

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This article reads Elena Stancanelli's 1998 novel and its 2002 adaptation to film by Monica Lisa Stambrini as examples of texts that challenge their soao-cultural and textual habitus. Discussion draws on Bourdieu's notion of the habitus as a framework of disciplinary 'structuring structures', as well as on Adrienne Rich's notion of 'compulsory heterosexuality' to analyse the resistance to cultural norms displayed within these texts, with a special focus on sexual orientation. Although queer narratives are arguably more prominent in contemporary Italian cultural production than in previous times, narratives of lesbian subjectivity in particular remain relatively silenced. These texts therefore constitute vital attempts to unsilence such narratives. Importantly, while openly unmasking and challenging pervasive norms, the texts also insist on lesbian identity as already compatible with, and 'thinkable' in terms of their socio-cultural and textual habitus. Thus they function to broaden the subjectivities sanctioned by the structuring structures from both within and outwith the habitus in terms of socio-cultural identity, but also as textual artefacts that simultaneously oppose and locate themselves within a particular tradition of cultural production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-250
Number of pages14
JournalRomance Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2004


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