Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Dagmar Herzog

Committee Members

Julia Sneeringer

Timothy Alborn

Mary Gibson

Subject Categories

Cultural History | European History | History of Gender | Intellectual History | Italian Literature | Military History | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Masculinity, Post-Fascist Masculinity, Italy 1945-1978, Military Occupation, Sexual Morality, Cultural History


This is the history of how masculinity evolved in a postfascist western European country. Militaristic virility was a core tenet of fascist Italy. World War Two weakened it profoundly, as men’s and women’s conceptions of their own sexual identities were fundamentally reshaped by violence and defeat. At the same time, consumer culture, exemplified by American GIs and expanding continuously through the 1950s and 1960s, encouraged the emergence of a new kind of man, only for this type, too, to be contested in turn in the wake of the New Left rebellions of 1968 and through the tumultuous 1970s. In all these years, at both conscious and unconscious levels, Italian men always tried to understand their existential and political condition by examining their sexual identity. In order to reconstruct this history of dramatic cultural change, controversy, and often raw emotions, my research juxtaposes a recovery of important debates among key Italian intellectuals with close analyses of a significant sample of cultural products (films, novels, and weekly press), exploring both the apparent demise of fascist manhood and its periodical reappearances in the public sphere.