Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2012

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Comparative Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In my dissertation, “History as Myth and Memory: Bassani, Ginzburg,Levi, and the Re-membering of Fascism” I examine how post-war literature has affected the ways in which Italy has dealt with the memory of Fascism's twenty year rule. I begin by analyzing both the political and the cultural components that contributed to the emergence of a dominant Resistance narrative in the immediate post-war years, focusing in particular on the role that Neorealism played in the formation of this narrative in Renata Viganò's novel L'Agnese va a morire, and Roberto Rossellini's film Roma città aperta. Through my reading of Benedetto Croce's historicism, as well as theories of cultural memory by scholars such as Pierre Nora, Maurice Halbwachs, and Jan and Aleida Assmann, I show how Giorgio Bassani's Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini, Natalia Ginzburg's Lessico famigliare, and Primo Levi's Il sistema periodico created an alternate and competing memory of the Fascist ventennio. I finally conclude that after World War II, the position of Italian Jews became a privileged one from which to explore moral and ethical issues concerning the period of transition that followed the conflict, as well as to question dogmatic truths on the public memory of the war.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Michael Sherberg

Committee Members

Nancy Berg, Iver Bernstein, Robert Henke, Tabea Linhard, Erin McGlothlin, Rebecca Messbarger


Permanent URL:

Available for download on Sunday, May 15, 2112