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Antigone, Medea, Elettra: il tragico femminile. Amore/violenza nello spazio contemporaneo

Antigone, Medea, Electra. Should we still be reading about them, studying their characters, and perhaps even reworking their stories through new forms of writing?If, as Italo Calvino maintained, the Classics remain those that continue to be ‘reread’, then these three ‘heroines’, as the protagonists of some fundamental tragedies that give shape to the imaginary of a typically Mediterranean culture, are central in defining both the concept of tragic and the love/violence relationship in a contemporary artistic space. But that is not all. Antigone, Medea, Electra represent a female world that is ‘different’ from the logocentric and patriarchal structure in which they are forced to act. It is from the inside, that they deconstruct it by bringing another mindset and other examples of values that are rooted in an alternative model of law, life, and love. They actively react to silencing and passivation by speaking out in a way that wants to give a new meaning to law, responsibility, sisterhood, motherhood, and even abuse and death (both one’s own and that of others). They represent, in essence, emblems of the denied feminine, they subvert roles, tasks, hierarchies, showing that a non-androcentric social structure is possible, and in so doing, enter the space of contemporary writing, representation, and thinking, for a new symbolic structure of difference and otherness. In this complex setting, by using an interdisciplinary perspective that draws mainly from the visual and musical aspects of literary arts, as well as from aesthetics, philosophy and psychology, the aim is not only to bring the constant, dynamic presence of these three classical figures to the 20th-century and present-day scene, but also to view them as a useful heuristic in understanding the conflicting dynamics of the present, where women and women’s issues are pivotal to a ‘new’, more ‘ethical’ concept of gender.


Patrizia Landi teaches Languages and forms of Italian literary production at IULM University in Milan. Since her dissertation, she has been concerned with Leopardi in several essays and volumes. She is also interested in the relantionship between Pirandello’s novelism and Greek tragedy; Milanese cultural-publishing history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; and the historical novel “à la Manzoni”. She co-edits with Tatiana Crivelli the RISL-Rivista Internazionale di Studi Leopardiani.

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