Virility in the City: The Male Body and Urban Space in Rome, from Italian Unification to Fascism

Sara Vitacca, Ph.D.

Focusing on the relationship between art, urban space and gender perspectives, this project intends to study the construction of a "virile" image of the city of Rome, through monuments, sculptures or urban installations that promoted a new ideal of the male body between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Starting from the post-unification period, when "virilism" imposed itself as a cultural and political discourse widely spread in the Italian society, the chronological limits of this research will extend up to the fascist era, when the manly ideal become particularly significant for the political propaganda of the regime. In addition to the study of monuments and emblematic urbans settings, this project will also give space to the critical and historiographical dimension, in order to comprehend how the city of Rome and its monuments may have embodied a narrative of virility. The visual and popular culture of the time will also be taken into account to explore the multiple representations of the city from a gender perspective. How does the portrayal of the male body dialogue with architecture and the surrounding space? By whom and for whom are such representations conceived? How does the perception of the monument in the urban setting change according to the gender of the spectators and the way they appropriate the city and its public spaces?


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