'Envoicing' women on page, stage, and screen in early post-unification Italy

Mitchell, Katharine; Bassi, Giovannu and Duretto, Ida and Hijazin, Arianna and Riccobono, Marta and Rossi, Federico, eds. (2022) 'Envoicing' women on page, stage, and screen in early post-unification Italy. In: Con altra voce. Edizioni della Scuola Normale Superiore . Springer (Scuola Normale Superior), Rome, pp. 37-61. ISBN 9788876427251

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In this essay, I present a selection of actual and imagined female, middle-class voices – both spoken and sung - in the period from the 1870s up until Italy’s entry into WW1 in 1915, in order to highlight their resonance and multi-chorality. Following Kaja Silverman, who, writing on cinema, insisted on the importance of the authorial voice for feminist purposes in 'The Acoustic Mirror' (1988), here I consider a selection of the many contributions - as authors, performers, readers and spectators – that middle-class women made to the expanding culture industry and its consumption in the early post-Unification period. In pointing to their output and interconnections, and drawing on Carolyn Abbate’s notion of ‘envoicing’ – literally meaning ‘in voice’ - I argue that as role models, women writers and performers (consciously, or otherwise) interpellated growing numbers of women readers and spectators as early-Capitalist, socio-economically-aware, independent consumers. Taken together, I suggest that they constituted a significant force in the struggle for emancipation from the 1890s onwards, even while they may not (in most cases) have identified with the movement.