Narrative Experience and Social Conflict. Italy, France, 1943-1977

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This dissertation investigates the relation between narrative forms, in both literature and cinema, and historical moments of deep crises of the social order: the interregnum between Fascism and First Republic in Italy; the decolonization process in Algeria seen from metropolitan France; and the worker and student struggles of the Sixties and the Seventies. The goal of my analysis is to show how a traumatic reality can fracture the ideological discourse dominant in a specific historical moment, leaving a mark on the structural and formal (rhetorical) construction of the work of art. My analysis begins with Naples immediately after World War II, by focusing on the works of Curzio Malaparte and Anna Maria Ortese. I then move to Paris in the aftermath of the Algerian War, to analyze the early films of Éric Rohmer, Chris Marker, Guy Debord, and Agnès Varda. My investigation proceeds by examining workers’ struggles in Northern Italy in Vogliamo tutto by Nanni Balestrini and ends in Bologna during the years of the ’77 revolt, where Pier Vittorio Tondelli’s early work dramatizes the communal existence of the student-worker movement. My method is based on a formal analysis of devices of disruption of the mimetic flow: anomalous use of pronouns, fragmentation, tension between verb tenses, and disconnections of the point of view. All are features through which the historical moment, I argue, is inscribed in the reading-viewing experience.





Castaldo, Achille (2019). Narrative Experience and Social Conflict. Italy, France, 1943-1977. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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