Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • Love's Ethics: Sibilla Aleramo and Queer Feminism in Fin de Si├Ęcle Italy

    Author:
    Ellen Zitani
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Mary Gibson
    Abstract:

    Utilizing the love story of feminists Sibilla Aleramo and Lina Poletti as a case study, this work illustrates lesbianism's complicated intersection with the public discourses of sexology, feminism and sexual ethics in turn-of-the-century Italy. While both Aleramo (famous for her 1906 feminist anthem, Una donna) and Poletti (a lesser-known scholar and activist) served on the frontlines of the Italian women's emancipation movement, their private lives lingered on the far periphery of acceptable sexual practices in recently-unified Italy. This dissertation looks at the public and private discourses surrounding the topics of women's homosexuality, love and polyamory in Italy in order to demonstrate how same-sex attraction, gender-nonconformity, feminism, and sexual ethics were understood and articulated by early-twentieth-century Italians. Italian public discourse by medical, criminological and social researchers categorized lesbianism as a disease, a sign or result of gender-nonconformity and sometimes criminality, or as a foreign plague infecting Italy's feminists. In contrast, Aleramo all but rejected the ideas of the sexologists and instead relied on the discourses of feminism and sexual ethics to inform her ideas on gender-nonconformity, homosexuality and monogamy. For her, homosexuality was not an identity or a disease. She saw love as feminist and debated sexual ethics in order to develop a new sexual space for herself and all Italian women, hetero- and homosexual.

  • The Bright Flash of Peace: Hiroshima in the World, 1945-1995

    Author:
    Ran Zwigenberg
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Barbara Brooks
    Abstract:

    Abstract The Bright Flash of Peace: Hiroshima in the World, 1945-1995 By Ran Zwigenberg This dissertation is a history of commemoration of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in the context of the global development of Holocaust and WW II memory. Using the history of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park as a platform, it examines the role of architecture, psychiatry, emotions, tourism, economics and politics to trace the process by which commemoration was used to normalize and domesticate the memory of the bombing within the discursive space of the Cold War. The "bright flash of peace," as a Hiroshima journalist - oxymoronically - referred to the A-bomb on its first anniversary, was conceptualized not as a cataclysmic horror but as a rebirth and a transformation that allowed its victims to find meaning in the quest for a future world without wars. The bombing, this manuscript argues, was thought to have bequeathed Hiroshima's victims with a global mission and importance. This was synchronous with, and influenced by, a similar view of the place of the victim/witness in Holocaust discourse. This development was not least a direct consequence of the unprecedented nature of the tragedies and of the failure of conventional means to represent and explain them. Hiroshima victims and the peace movement that surrounded these were the first to publicly use and disseminate testimonies as a way of tackling the complex and pressing issues of nuclear victimization. Thus, this manuscript uses the experience of commemoration of the Holocaust and its survivors, mostly in Israel but also elsewhere in the West as well as the East, not only as a point of comparison and contrast but also as an opportunity to trace the many links that ultimately emerged between Holocaust and A-bomb discourses. It traces the convergence of these discourses, the way the survivor was eventually elevated to be the ultimate bearer of moral authority, and the consequences of this development for commemoration and politics in Japan and elsewhere.