Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Comparative Literature


Giancarlo Lombardi

Committee Members

Monica Calabritto

Hermann Haller

Nancy K. Miller

Subject Categories

Italian Linguistics | Italian Literature | Women's Studies


La Storia, L'arte della gioia, L'amica geniale, affect, literature and emotion, language and emotion


This dissertation examines the representation of emotions in My Brilliant Friend and in two Italian novels written between the 1960s and the 1970s – La Storia (1974, History: A Novel) by Elsa Morante (1912-1985) and L’arte della gioia (The Art of Joy, 1998/2008) by Goliarda Sapienza (1924-1996). However, rather than remaining centered on these works’ emotive landscapes alone, I seek instead to trace the continuities that link these two “historical” novels of the past to Ferrante’s successful and more recent tetralogy. I look at the representation of emotions and at what I call “moments of intensity” – moments of disruption in the narrative sequence, along with stylistic and linguistic rupture, used to convey the characters’ modified perception, rather than the affective reaction of the reader – in order to illuminate these works’ multi-layered view on women and history, and to show how the characters’ emotional responses and moments of narrative intensity are intrinsically connected to the authors’ visions of history and women. Thus, my research reflects on the sudden popularity of the contemporary Italian novel within the global literary scene while also looking beyond national borders to argue more broadly for the interconnectedness of emotional intensity, historicity and narrative form.