Italian Medical and Literary Discourses around Female Same-Sex Desire, 1877-1906

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Colleges, School and Institutes


This chapter focuses on the under-researched topic of female homosexuality in late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Italy. She analyses discourses of female same-sex desire first in medical publications—in the work of Cesare Lombroso, Guglielmo Cantarano and Paolo Mantegazza—and then in three novels: Alfredo Oriani’s Al di là [Beyond] (1877), Enrico Butti’s L’automa [The Automaton] (1892), and Fede’s L’eredità di Saffo [Sappho’s Legacy] [1908]. Discussion is informed by the theoretical work of Michel Foucault and Eve Sedgwick, and pays particular attention to the multiple, and often contradictory, connotations of such discourses as they migrate between genres and disciplines, troubling the heteronormative matrix.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationItalian Sexualities Uncovered, 1789-1914
EditorsValeria Babini, Chiara Beccalossi, Lucy Riall
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameGenders and Sexualities in History


  • Italy, sexology, female same-sex desire

ASJC Scopus subject areas