From Mothers to Citizens: Italian Women from Unification to the Republic.

From Mothers to Citizens: Italian Women from Unification to the Republic.

University of Cambridge

Department of Italian, Raised Faculty Building, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge

29-30 September 2016

Call for Papers

On 1 February 1945, government Decree n. 23 finally granted women the right to vote in Italy and women first exercised their right as full political citizens in the elections of 1946, 70 years ago. This conference seeks to mark this anniversary by investigating the development of women’s status and their changing role and image between Unification and the founding of the Republic.

At the time of Unification, in the writings of educationalists and moralists, women were typically confined to the role of wives and mothers within the household. The 1865 Civil Code, the so-called Pisanelli Code, confirmed the legal status of women as subject to men. However, ideas of emancipation and improvements in women’s rights spread in certain intellectual circles. Figures like Salvatore Morelli and Anna Maria Mozzoni promoted rights for women, including the vote in administrative elections, leading to the foundation of associations and journals supporting women emancipation. At the turn of the century, women’s rights were formally discussed at state level, resulting in the first decrees regulating women in the employment (1902–7) and the first petitions for the right to vote (1906). However, few changes occurred in the position of women within the wider society, and not even their participation in the Great War effort gave them equal rights. On the contrary, women’s expectations of a formal acknowledgement of citizenship were frustrated and finally rejected by the rise of Fascism. During the Fascist era, women’s role was officially reduced once more to that of mother and wife, and although their involvement in Fascist organisations brought them outside the house, the regime silenced any emancipatory claim. Only the convulsions of the second War and civil war would finally make possible full women’s suffrage.

The conference aims to explore the tensions and contradictions in these public, official, civic and private roles in this period of transformation, to better understand the contradictions and conflicts in the status of Italian women from 1861 up to 1945. It aims to retrace the path that led to full citizenship and investigate the changes in the image of women throughout this period of emancipation.

We invite papers which investigate any aspect of this evolution. Proposals may include, but are not limited to, reflections of these historical changes in women’s status in history, politics, literature, media, visual arts, education, law, medicine, religion.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Prof. Ann Hallamore Caesar, University of Warwick

Prof. Perry Willson, University of Dundee

This two-day conference will be held at the Italian Department of the University of Cambridge on 29-30 September 2016.

We welcome the submission of individual papers as well as proposals for complete panels. Panels should consist of three papers and each proposal should contain a title, the names of the chair and the speakers, abstracts (max 250 words) and a short bio of the participants.

Individual paper proposals should consist of a title, an abstract (max 250 words) and a short bio.

Proposals may be presented in English or Italian and those with a comparative perspective are particularly welcomed.

Please submit your proposal for either a paper or a panel to the conference organizers Sara Delmedico ( and Manuela Di Franco (, Department of Italian, University of Cambridge.

The deadline for submission is 30 June 2016.

Notification of inclusion in the conference will be sent by 30 July 2016.

We look forward to receiving your proposals.