Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type




First Advisor

Cosetta Seno


Women, throughout history, have been frequently viewed as passive and represented as oppressed. Italian Fascism was not an exception. Benito Mussolini, the head of the Italian Fascist regime, wanted to recreate the greatness that was the Roman Empire, and one of the ways to do so was to control the population demographic. To do this, he ultimately needed to control women and their rights, both general and reproductive. Through numerous laws and amendments, Mussolini, with help from the Catholic Church, managed to ban contraceptives and make abortion illegal. Also, he made certain jobs illegal for women, forcing them to stay and home and play the role of the mother. Furthermore, through financial incentives and government institutions, Mussolini made it seem more appealing for women to stay at home and have children, than going out to work. While it might seem like Mussolini's plan to increase population was foolproof, many women did not follow this agenda. Women continued having abortions illegally, and the population actually ended up decreasing, according to what scholar Lesley Caldwell brilliantly named a “Demographic Strike.” While we as Americans have mostly been shown Italian women during Fascism as passive figures, thanks to recent academic research it is clear that this is not always the case. Women during Italian Fascism fought back, although not throughout a traditional feminist battle, since the feminist movement as it was known in pre-Fascist and Liberal Italy had been seriously undermined, but in a less overtly ideological and yet effective way. We can witness this effort of reclaiming one's body and mind through reading the stories and novels of many women writers of the time. One certain writer, Carola Prosperi, is an example of this. Although she did not consider herself to be a feminist writer, reading her stories today, it is clear that she would be considered a feminist writer. While she was a redominant writer for newspapers like La Donna and La Stampa, she also wrote many novels regarding topics such as abortion and abusive relationships. In the collections of stories, Felicità in Gabbia, written in 1922, Prosperi gives a voice to oppressed women, showing their strength to make decisions regarding children and marriage. It is startling to see how, although she discussed such taboo topics from a very independent and unique point of view, she continued to be published steadily during Fascist times. We have to wonder if, in such a sense, women were indeed so “invisible” that not much attention was actually given to what they were writing, so much that they could, more easily than men, escape censorship. Although in recent times, more attention was given to Fascist women writers, I still feel that more work needs to be done, especially through translating many of the “invisible” and forgotten stories that could offer the American audience a much more complete perspective of the multi-faceted Fascist women society. For these aforementioned reasons, I have decided to write my Honors Thesis on Women, Fascism, and Carola Prosperi. I will begin my thesis with an introduction, which will include information about Fascism in general, women and Fascist laws, and information on Carola Prosperi herself. Also, I will look into specific translation theories, and then elaborate on the theory that I used, as well as the problems that arose while translating the stories. Following the introduction, I will have a translation of three stories from Carola Prosperi's book, Felicità in Gabbia, named Paternità, Mancanza di Serietà, and L'Oscura Passione. I am choosing this book for many reasons, the first and most important being that it has never been translated into English before. Secondly, Prosperi's stories gave women the chance to say that they were not just sitting by and letting Mussolini take control of their world.