Current Postgraduate Students
Mr Federico Casari
Literary journalism and its structures. Cultural and intellectual discussion in Italy from 1860s to 1915.
If the primary concerns of literary jornalism are, as Stefan Collini claimed, "those cultural and intellectual discussions that are carried on in the 'literary' pages of newspapers and periodicals", it is also important to reassess the role of the structures through which these discussions are possible.
Italian literary journalism after the Unification contributed to establish three of the most recognisable structures of the most general "literary article", that are still peculiar of contemporary Italian literary criticism: the periodical essay, the book review (rassegna bibliografica) and the so-called elzeviro. My research is concerned with the evolution of the first and the second and the invention of the latter, from the second half of the Nineteenth Century to the early Twentieth Century. The key-figure who contributed to defining the charachteristics of the new genres is Enrico Nencioni, in his role as a collaborator to the front page of the Fanfulla della Domenica, the first literary journal to be spread all over the country. His writings were strongly influenced by British journalism, and in particular by Thackeray's Roundabout Papers. The 'school' of Nencioni was soon imitated both by his young admirers (Carlo Placci, Giuseppe Primoli, Matilde Serao) and his competitors (Luigi Capuana, Enrico Panzacchi, Ferdinando Martini, and a former follower of Nencioni, Gabriele d'Annunzio).
Connected with the Florentine milieu at the end of the Nineteenth Century, the role of Nencioni proved to be crucial in the development of literary journalism in the daily press at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. While the importance of the periodical essay and the book review was declining, thanks to literary criticism on English literature and to its protagonists Emilio Cecchi and Mario Praz, the elzeviro eventually gained a central role in the process of literary reporting.
Core problems are also involved in this survey: the relationship between literary journalism and literary scholarship, the relation of the literary to the more broadly cultural and political, the role of criticism itself in the circuit of cultural production and the question of who identified the books or the cultural trend for the common readership.