Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Comparative Literature


Paolo Fasoli

Committee Members

André Aciman

Hermann Haller

Subject Categories

Contemporary Art | French and Francophone Literature | Italian Linguistics | Italian Literature | Modern Literature | Other History | Philosophy of Language


Italian Dialectology, Genre Studies, Surrealism, Flânerie, Italian Literature


Over the course of Italy’s linguistic history, dialect literature has evolved a s a genre unto itself. The scope of research presented in this study examines the question of dialect literature as a valid genre which bears lines of demarcation that would assign it the distinction of genre. Research reveals that in fact the simple election of a language, or dialect, does not itself constitute a genre; moreover, most dialect literature bears characteristics that would neatly place it in another genre.

To examine this verity, this research compares two dialect poets who employ Milanese as a means of transmission instead of standard Italian, Delio Tessa and Franco Loi, with the Paris Surrealist group members who coined the infamous anti-novels on the 1920’s and 1930’s, André Breton, Robert Desnos, Louis Aragon, and Phillipe Soupault. By intersecting dialectology, sociolinguistics, and genre and literary theory, the poetics of Tessa and Loi show the same characteristics as the Surrealist anti-novel. Due to similar influences, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé, similar traumas of modernity, and the same social exigency to write, Tessa and Loi’s work can be placed within the lines of demarcation of Surrealism. Further, this is revealed to be a trajectory as genre invention and the development of Italian and its dialects have been historically concomitant.