SLAVERY, SUBALTERNITY, EMPIRE: PERFORMING THE MULTICULTURAL MEDITERRANEAN IN ITALIAN COMEDY Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
Creator
  • Gurney, Tessa
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Romance Studies
Abstract
  • In the sixteenth century, the powerful Ottoman Empire is expanding further west. In Italy and elsewhere in Europe, exotic visitors are arriving each day from the vast and elusive oltremare. Others depart from Christendom, “turning Turk” in search of a new life or increased social mobility. Corsairs patrol the Mediterranean and its coastal areas, looking for slaves to row their powerful galleys. This period of increased conflict on the Mediterranean Sea converges with Italian theater’s golden age. The already established negative stereotypes of the Turk thus find an appropriate home in comedy, a genre uniquely equipped to incorporate cultural aspersions. Comedy manages the popular fear of the “Turkish menace” as Turks are represented as barbarous pirates, sexual predators, or as a weak, often female, subaltern. This study traces the discourse of the Other in early modern Italian comedy by focusing on racial differences, religious erasures, and issues of gender in an attempt to identify an origin for certain racial tropes still present in contemporary Italian literature and culture. Special attention is paid to the work of several playwrights from various parts of the Peninsula. Florentine Giovan Maria Cecchi is credited for the innovation he brought to the genre with La stiava. La turca, La sorella, and Il moro are three of Neapolitan Giambattista Della Porta’s comedies that evoke increased conflict and address the coastal concerns of kidnapping and piracy. Luigi Groto’s Emilia reads as a revisionist account of the War of Cyprus. Finally, the plays in Giovan Battista Andreini’s Turkish trilogy are shown to condemn Turkish practices and imagine Christian triumph and meanwhile display a certain fascination for Turkish wealth, culture, and power not uncharacteristic of the age.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Welch, Ellen
  • Luisetti, Federico
  • Rao, Ennio
  • Escolar, Marisa
  • Finucci, Valeria
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016
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