“Queering Internal Exile on Italian Screen” a Public Lecture by Prof. Dana Renga
On Thursday Nov. 16th Prof. Renga (Chair of Italian and French at Ohio State University) will give a lecture on the forced exile of several homosexual inmates during fascism as represented and memorialized in a number of Italian documentaries and fiction films.
Nov. 16th (5pm)
In 2003, multi-term ex-prime minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi stated: ‘I understand the difficulties of teaching democracy to a people who for nearly forty years have known only dictatorship.’ Interviewer Nicholas Farrell prompted: ‘Like Italy at the fall of Fascism.’ To this, Berlusconi infamously declared ‘That was a much more benign dictatorship; Mussolini did not murder anyone. Mussolini sent people on holidays to confine them to banishment to small islands such as Ponza or Maddalena which are now exclusive resorts.’ The promotion of internal exile (‘confino’) as holiday is particularly interesting when considering the experience of men sent to the islands for suspicion of ‘pederasty’ (as it was referred to at the time). As this talk discusses, gay men found a certain amount of freedom on an island prison where conditions were grim, barracks were overcrowded, illness was rampant, jobs were unavailable, and the average stipend was only four lire per day. At the same time, the experience of gay men sent into internal exile is cloaked in silence. The lecture interrogates this silence by looking at two feature films, three documentaries, and a graphic novel that treat, to different degrees, the experiences of gay men sent into internal exile.