This paper addresses the issue of political cartooning during Italian fascism, with specific reference to the role of women, as it is symbolised in the cartoons (i.e.the woman-mother/care-taker/fascist/worker). The latter will be revealed through a careful study of the contradictions generated by fascism and the representation of this ‘New Woman’ in political satire. The caricatures I will examine belong strictly to the Left discourse. They received high circulation figures and characterised Italy’s popular culture during the 1920’s. Whilst fascism did not provide any space for women to join the high ranks of the PNF (Partito Nazionale Fascista), the Left similarly did not provide any emancipatory discourse equal to a feminist one. Hence, at this stage women are engaged to different role-positions, which do not differentiate in party politics, but are more deeply embedded in the social spectrum of the society. In order to explain this contradiction, I will employ Ernesto Laclau’s concept of the ‘floating signifier’ for my analysis. I will begin with a presentation of discourse theory with specific reference to the ‘floating signifier.’ Following that, I will present a historical background and then turn to a series of examples.
Contradiction and the Role of the ‘Floating Signifier’: Identity and the ‘New Woman’ in Italian Cartoons During Fascism.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 11(4), 128-142.
Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol11/iss4/9