Robert S.C. Gordon

Inside-Out. History, beauty and the cultural currents of Italianness within and across borders

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Keywords: Translation; Reception; Primo Levi; Paolo Sorrentino; Elena Ferrante.

Fields of perception of «Italianness» are significantly shaped by cross-border migrations of culture, through cycles of translation, reception and reimportation, moving between «inside» and «outside» and shifting value along the way. These cultural mobilities are enacted equally around aesthetic artefacts, individual artists or cultural operators, and stereotypical discourses or tropes (e.g. history, beauty). National and transnational perceptions of these, although often in contradiction, are mutually conditioning and intersecting. This essay explores aspects of such transnational dynamics and their impact on senses of «Italianness», first through some framing considerations of a general, theoretical nature, and then through three case studies of figures whose work has circulated recently, with particularly charged tensions or complexities, between Italy and North America and back again.

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