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Staging the Fascist War

The Ministry of Popular Culture and Italian Propaganda on the Home Front, 1938–1943


Luigi Petrella

Historians regard the Italian home front during the Second World War as an observation post from which to study the relationship between Fascism and society during the years of the collapse of the Mussolini regime. Yet the role of propaganda in influencing that relationship has received little attention. The media played a crucial role in setting the stage for the regime’s image under the intense pressures of wartime. The Ministry of Popular Culture, under Mussolini’s supervision, maintained control not only over the press, but also over radio, cinema, theatre, the arts and all forms of popular culture. When this Fascist media narrative was confronted by the sense of vulnerability among civilians following the first enemy air raids in June 1940, it fell apart like a house of cards.
Drawing on largely unexplored sources such as government papers, personal memoirs, censored letters and confidential reports, Staging the Fascist War analyses the crisis of the regime in the years from 1938 to 1943 through the perspective of a propaganda programme that failed to bolster Fascist myths at a time of total war.


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Series Index - Panoramas


P A N O R A M A S • I T A L I A N M O D E R N I T I E S Edited by Pierpaolo Antonello and Robert Gordon, University of Cambridge Panoramas is a new strand of books within the Italian Modernities series. These volumes aim to provide accessible, wide-ranging, research-led accounts of significant new trends, emerging fields of study and new methodologies within work on modern Italian culture, history, and related disciplines. Proposals are welcome for edited collections in English. Please provide a detailed outline, including abstracts for each proposed chapter, and a CV for each volume editor. For further information, contact the series editors, Pierpaolo Antonello ( and Robert Gordon ( Vol. 1 Giancarlo Lombardi and Christian Uva (eds): Italian Political Cinema: Public Life, Imaginary, and Identity in Contemporary Italian Film. 427 pages, 2016. ISBN 978-3-0343-2217-1

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