Put To The “Passion” Test: Practices and Representations of Male and Female Homosexuality Between Modern and Contemporar

This seminar is positioned within a series of initiatives on LGBTQIA+ history promoted at the University of Verona starting from 2015. An initial encounter, dedicated to the memory of John Boswell, was held in March 2015 (TeSIS Department, PoliTeSse and Interuniversity Centre for Cultural History), followed by the major congress on 21st and 22nd September 2015: Tribadi, sodomiti, invertiti-e, pederasti, femminelle, ermafroditi… Per una storia dell’omosessualità, della bisessualità e delle trasgressioni di genere in Italia (Tribades, sodomites, queers, paedophiles, transvestites, hermaphrodites…For a history of homosexuality, bisexuality and gender transgressions in Italy) (TeSIS Department, PoliTeSse and Interuniversity Centre for Cultural History)1. In the subsequent years, at least two more historical meetings were set within an ideal conversation with the Veronese initiative: the study day Percorsi di storia di genere tra moderno e contemporaneo (Pathways of Gender History between Modern and Contemporary), organised in 2016 at the University of Bologna (DiSCi and TeSIS Departments, ISIG-FBK)2; and the study days Maschili forme e identità: storia, società e diritto (Male forms and identity: history, society and law), organised in 2018 at the University of Perugia (Departments of Law and Political Sciences, DiSCi, TeSIS and PoliTeSse). 

Besides giving visibility and academic recognition to a history at length untold or set aside, moving from a plural and inclusive approach of the different voices and subjectivities, among the objectives of such encounters there was also that of starting an initial and necessary historiographic reconnaissance of homosexuality in the Italian context. Keeping in the background fundamental reference works such as The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault, scholars of differing training backgrounds and provenance discussed the normative frameworks and the repressive interventions implemented in many of the societies of the past vis-à-vis the sexualities considered “deviant” at the time. If, on the one hand, a similar focalization appeared to be mandatory to define the forms and extent of the criminalization homosexuality was subjected to, on the other it cast light on the inevitable partiality of the institutional plane, more addressed to restoring the boundaries of the sexual acts than the history of the subjects involved: that is, repression, more than affirmation.    

The seminar Put To The “Passion” Test. Practices and Representations of Male and Female Homosexuality Between Modern and Contemporary seeks to investigate the history of the relations between people of the same sex while trying to hold together two spheres  –  sexuality and eros understood in the broadest sense – that in Western thinking often recur divided and opposed to each other. Moreover, a dualism discussed at length by the studies on homosexuality in the contexts in which ‘the words to say it’ were lacking, and that has often led to focusing the investigations more on the materiality of the sexual acts (being forbidden), than on possibilities and on the modes of their expression. And yet, taken as a whole and in the long term, also the pre-contemporary sources take account of the nuances of the sentimental sphere, from passion to intimacy, from friendship to love: “Sentiments have a history and love is no exception to this”3. Finally, today love finds itself at the centre of renewed attention by the history of emotions4 

The context studied will be that of Italy between the modern and the contemporary age, the approach multidisciplinary and open to a variety of sources besides the “institutional” ones, such as the epistolary, diaries, treatises, works of art, literature, music. The scope will be deliberately broad, encouraging the presentation and the discussion of research currently in progress above all by young scholars who are working on the subject.  

Seminar Poster

The seminar is organized by the Research Center PoliTeSse (sites.dsu.univr.it/politesse) on the occasion of the first LGBT + History Month Italia (lgbtplushistorymonth.it) 

The seminar will be held in presence and online. To get the Zoom link, or for more information, please contact: tommaso.scaramella@univr.it