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Gendered Contexts

New Perspectives in Italian Cultural Studies

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Edited By Laura Benedetti, Julia Hairston and Julia L. Hairston

The application of feminist thought to the study of Italian culture is generating some of the most innovative work in the field today. This volume presents a range of essays which focus on the construction of gender in Italian literature as well as essays in feminist theory. The contributions reflect the current diversity of critical approaches available to those interrogating gender and offer interpretations of prose, poetry, theater, and the visual arts from Boccaccio, Michelangelo, and Galileo to contemporary Italian writers such as Carla Cerati and Dacia Maraini.

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Post-Petrarchism and Language(s) of Desire: Robert J. Rodini 69

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Post-Petrarchism and Language(s) of Desire Robert J. Rodini The purpose of this paper is to examine ways in which sixteenth-century Italian poets express desire in the lyric form. I will be concerned essen- tially with poets who write in a transgressive mode, that is to say, with poets who are writing outside the boundaries of the canonical text, Petrarch's Rime sparse. With one exception, they are poets whose gender and, therefore, whose poetic voice differ in essential ways from Petrarch's. In the case of the exception, Michelangelo, I will be concerned with a male poet who, in the poems I have chosen, is addressing an object of desire of his own sex. However, in all cases the object of desire, or the muse, is male. I begin with a series of statements which are patently obvious, but important because they will serve as the foundation for my later remarks. These statements have to do with the Petrarchan model and how that model lends itself to appropriation by Cinquecento lyric poets. They are also statements which have been explored to one degree or another recently by scholars such as Roland Greene and Ann Rosalind Jones in two books: the first on the post-Petrarchan lyric sequence and the second on poetry by women in Renaissance Italy, France, and England. 1 First, in the canonical text and in the poems inspired by Laura, the poetic voice, or "io," functions in the absence of the woman, or the object of desire. Poetry is...

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