My dissertation, Promoting the “minor:” A Figural Practice in Italian Literature and Film, studies portrayals of Italian Fascism and the Shoah and foreign immigration to Italy by exploring and expanding the notion of “minor literature” famously developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. I show that these works deploy their minorness more as a practice than an identity. My textual analysis, while providing a valuable window into the relationship between language and power, challenges the established boundaries of the Italian canon and offers a compelling interdisciplinary tool. I see and explore the “minor” as a process by which a writer/director manages to become estranged from his/her own language, as a writing and image-making practice that unveils the foreignness inhabiting even the most familiar verbal or visual constructs and brings to the foreground the arbitrariness of certain definitions and linguistic usages. It is clear that I conceive of language as an interplay between verbal and visual components, which I investigate based primarily on Jean-François Lyotard’s notion of “figural.” In the novels and films of my dissertation, I look at the ways in which “minoring practices,” as I define these practices, remove words and images from their customary associations and equivocate what they are made to signify directly and univocally. Since such relationship can serve hegemonic forms of representation, minoring practices contribute to revealing and opposing the ways in which power is exercised and circulated. The five chapters of my dissertation constitute “alliances” of literary and filmic texts that defy filiations. These clusters are not based on authors’ identities or on textual lines of descent; rather, they revolve around similar minoring practices. By fostering a far-reaching dialogue among heterogeneous texts, my minor approach and the alliances it forges show the knowledge that can be gained by connecting past and present across the constricting categories of belonging and unbelonging that structure and separate Italian literature and film. Moreover, my project, though grounded in the Italian case, provides and promotes a methodological framework that applies and contributes to several other academic disciplines
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