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Pulp : youth language, popular culture and literature in 1990s Italian fiction

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posted on 15.12.2014, 10:45 by Kate Litherland
In this thesis I analyse a selection of Italian pulp fiction from the 1990s. My approach combines sociolinguistics and literary criticism, and uses textual analysis to show how this writing fuses influences from contemporary youth cultures and languages, and Italian literary tradition. The key themes of my analysis are pulp's multifaceted relationships with Anglophone culture, in particular punk music, its links to previous generations of Italian authors and intellectuals, and its engagement with contemporary Italian social issues. In Chapter 1, I review the existing literature on 1990s Italian pulp. Following on from this, I outline how a primarily linguistic approach allows me to consider a selection of authors, such as Rossana Campo, Silvia Ballestra, Aldo Nove, Enrico Brizzi and Isabella Santacroce, from a unifying perspective, and how this approach offers a means of considering the varied but contemporary perspectives on Italian culture, society, politics and literature offered by this group of writers. In Chapter 2, I show how pulp authors construct their linguistic style on the basis of spoken youth language varieties, and consider their motivations for doing so. Chapter 3 traces the literary precedents for this use of language, using comparative textual analysis to examine the nature of the relationships between pulp and American literature, and late twentieth century Italian fiction by Arbasino, Tondelli and Pasolini, in order to question some of the myths surrounding the literary sources of pulp. Chapter 4 deals with the relationship between pulp and popular culture, contrasting the notion of popular culture presented in this fiction to that proposed by earlier generations of Italian intellectuals, and discussing the theoretical perspectives that this reveals. Finally, I debate the extent to which pulps often disturbing and controversial subject matter reflects an attempt to deal with ethical issues, and consider pulp's success in achieving these aims.


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University of Leicester

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