Women in Italy, 1945-1960 : An Interdisciplinary Study (review)

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This book is an excellent addition to the literature in English on Italian gender history, which has only recently overcome its marginal status and shifted focus from the medieval
and early modern periods to the more recent past (Willson 2006). The period 1945–1960 saw the aftermath of the Second World War, reconstruction, female suffrage, the
Cold War, American consumerist influences and the beginning of the postwar boom. The book’s success in fusing social, historical and cultural concerns in writing women’s
history is shown in, for example, Nadia Zonis’s chapter on the 1960 Rome Olympics, Mary P. Wood’s analysis of women and prosperity in postwar cinema and Daniela Cavallero’s discussion of women’s educational theatre. Cavallero recognises the Catholic Church as enabling women through education, just as many of the other chapters emphasise its role in quashing women’s desire for equality. Motherhood is an important theme, of course: Ursula Fanning’s examines Anna Banti’s writing, Donatella Fischer’s explores Eduardo de Filippo’s plays and Lesley Caldwell analyses three films of the period. The book moves from Madonna to whore in Molly Tambor’s discussion of the Legge Merlin debates and Danielle Hipkins’s account of Visconti’s Rocco e i suoi fratelli.
Domesticity is central in critiques of the domestic imperative for postwar women, in discussions of domestic advice and in Ellen Nerenberg’s discussion of ‘Public Housing in Postwar Rome’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-120
JournalModern Italy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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