From Dale Arden to Valentina. Americanisation and gender representation in Italian comics, 1934-1965.

11 September 2023 → 10 September 2025
European funding: framework programme, Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Visual cultures
20th Century Comparative Iconography and analysis of images Language and text analysis comics
Other information
Project description

Comics are a powerful means through which American values reached Italy in the 1930s and became part of its culture. With their formative potential influence on younger readers and wide distribution, comics provide a unique line of enquiry for exploring cultural changes, as both a reflection of and a contributor to such changes. My project explores the evolution of Italian comics from the 1930s to the 1960s, focusing on gender discourse and transnational exchange to offer a novel perspective on modern Italian
culture. By examining comics in the Fascist era, the post-war era, and the economic boom era, ITACOMICS examines the impact of the American model in shaping Italian comics and assesses their impact in gender representation while taking into account the sociopolitical context which influenced comics production. This approach will show how such cultural dialogue produced a cross-cultural product that reflected transnational influences and contributed to shaping the Italian popular imaginary. Italy’s peculiar political history enables me to use comics to examine how society developed from an authoritarian regime to democracy from a perspective still largely unexplored. The project examines popular comics in Italy in the years between 1934, when the first American adventure comics were published, and 1965, when Valentina appeared, a female-focused comic that revolutionised the image of womanhood portrayed in comics. This analysis highlights changes in Italian culture and society and challenges the centrality of American comics in the English-speaking scholarship. By posing broader questions about interconnected cultures, showing how cultural specificities coexist with foreign models, and how foreign gender models adapt to a specific context, my research project will provide ground-breaking perspectives on comics’ reinterpretation and incorporation of American culture in the Italian context, showing how the two cultures are deeply intertwined.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency (REA). Neither the European Union nor the authority can be held responsible for them.