Orality and Literacy in Modern Italian Culture

Edited by Michael Caesar and Marina Spunta

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 12 other titles

Italian Perspectives 14

Legenda: Oxford, 2006
£55.00 ($99.00 US)  Hardback  184pp
ISBN: 1-904350-73-9

In our highly literate culture, orality is all-pervasive. Different kinds of media and performance — theatre, film, television, story-telling, structured play — make us ask what is the relation between improvisation and premeditation, between transcription and textualization, between rehearsal, recollection and re-narration. The challenge of writing down what is spoken is partly technical, but also political and philosophical. How do young writers represent the spoken language of their contemporaries? What are the rules governing the transcription of oral evidence in fiction and non-fiction? Is the relationship between oral and written always a hierarchical one? Does the textualization of the oral destroy, more than it commemorates or preserves, the oral itself? Twelve wide-ranging essays, the majority on contemporary Italian theatre and literature, explore these questions in the most up-to-date account of orality and literacy in modern Italian culture yet produced.

Michael Caesar is Serena Professor of Italian at the University of Birmingham. Marina Spunta is Lecturer in Italian at the University of Leicester.

With the contributions:

Michael Caesar, Marina Spunta — Introduction
Michael Caesar — Voice, Vision and Orality: Notes on Reading Adriana Cavarero
Arturo Tosi — Histrionic Transgressions: The Dario Fo–Commedia dell’Arte Relationship Revisited
Gerardo Guccini — Le poetiche del ‘teatro narrazione’ fra ‘scrittura oralizzante’ e oralità-che-si-fa-testo
Richard Andrews — Composing, Reciting, Inscribing and Transcribing Playtexts in the Community Theatre of Monticchiello
David Forgacs — An Oral Renarration of a Photoromance, 1960
Alessandra Broccolini — Identità locali e giochi popolari in Italia tra oralità e scrittura
Marina Spunta — The Facets of Italian Orality: An Overview of the Recent Debate
Kate Litherland — Literature and Youth in the 1990s: Orality and the Written in Tiziano Scarpa’s Cos’è questo fracasso? and Caliceti and Mozzi’s Quello che ho da dirvi
Elena Porciani — Note su oralità e narrazione inattendibile
Marco Codebò — Voice and Events in Manlio Calegari’s Comunisti e partigiani: Genova 1942–1945
Hanna Serkowska — Oralità o stile? La trasmissione orale e le modalità narrative ne La Storia di Elsa Morante
Catherine O’Rawe — Orality, Microhistory and Memory: Gesualdo Bufalino and Claudio Magris between Narrative and History


  • ‘Other strands link the twelve essays: one centres on the idea that ‘voice’ is something vulnerable and short-lived, while another focuses on the ‘hierarchy’ implicit in the relationship between orality and literacy. Both are demonstrated, for instance, when ‘folk’, ‘women’s’ and ‘youth’ cultures are ‘textualised’ and thus potentially destroyed, rather than preserved, in writing, leading to the hypothesis that ‘orality’ is, essentially, irreproducible as ‘literacy’.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 46.2, 2010, 247-48


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