Facing up to the dictatorial past. Cultural memory and the responsibility for fascism in post-1990 Italian literature

Begin - Einde 
2022 - 2025 (lopend)



Memory scholars have been criticizing the state of collective memory in the West arguing that efforts made to commemorate the crimes of the twentieth century have neither reduced racism nor spread tolerance across society. Building on the latest memory studies and historical scholarship, this project contends that the main shortcoming of contemporary memory has been a still too limited conceptualization of a sense of responsibility for the past. To address this problem, the project focuses on the memory of a major phenomenon of Europe’s tragic history, i.e. Italian fascism, examining, through theories of memory and responsibility, a corpus of seventeen Italian novels published from the 1990s onwards. Guido Bartolini’s analysis will demonstrate that contemporary literature breaks with self-absolving ideas that have long dominated Italian memory by thematizing the direct and indirect involvement of common citizens in fascist crimes and addressing the issue of Italian complicity in the dictatorship. The project will show how contemporary literature is not only reorienting the Italian memory of fascism but also offering narrative patterns to think about the past in responsible ways. Hence, through the study of Italian literature, the project will develop a critical approach to past injustices centred on the notion of transgenerational responsibility for the past that can tackle the shortcomings that scholars have found in Western memory.