Susan Amatangelo, professor of Italian and current speaker of the faculty, edited the volume Italian Women at War: Sisters in Arms from the Unification to the Twentieth Century, which was published in August 2016.
“Italian Women at War offers diverse perspectives on Italian women’s participation in war and conflict throughout Italy’s modern history, contributing to the ongoing scholarly conversation on this topic,” says Amatangelo, who also wrote the introduction and one of the chapters. “The aim of this book is not to glorify violence and war, but to celebrate the active role of Italian women in the evolution of their nation and to demystify the idea of the woman warrior, who has always been viewed either as an extraordinary, almost mythical creature or as an affront to the traditional feminine identity.”
She first wanted to learn more about this topic when she was researching the female brigand (or bandit), which led her to explore more broadly the role that Italian women had in conflict throughout their country’s history.
The first part of the book focuses on heroines who fought for Italy’s unification and the anti-heroines, or brigantesse, who opposed the change. Part two discusses female efforts, both military and civilian, during the world wars, while part three moves in to the later part of the 20th century, when women engaged in less conventional conflicts and used weapons as varied as cannons and cameras. ■
—Maura Sullivan Hill