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This editorial appeared in Volume 9 (1) of The Semiotic Review of Books.

Recounting the Body

by Anne Urbancic

The recent untimely and dramatic death of Diana, Princess of Wales has reminded us once again of how the body is co-opted for various purposes. In the case of the late princess, we can recall how she herself had manipulated her telegenicity in order to highlight various stages and activities of her life. We remember the darkly made up eyes of her famous BBC Panorama interview of November 1995 in which she revealed, dressed in black, her plight as the spurned wife who had no other outlet for her sorrows save bulimia. We recall how, much more recently, she auctioned her designer gowns, all made with meticulous detail to emphasize her slender physique, in order to highlight her good works for charities. Nor can we forget that the freelance photographers who have been blamed for the accident that took her life were intent on producing as many pictures of her body, as a whole or in parts, as possible.

Consideration of the body as a whole and as a series of parts reminds us of a study by Louis Marin, translated into English as Food for Thought and just republished in a paperback edition. Do Marin's ideas on the body as consumer/ingestor, and as the consumed, still prove to be valid almost a decade after they were initially proposed? A press as prestigious as Johns Hopkins seems to think so and, by reissuing the study to a new generation of academic readers, it reaffirms the relevance of his theological/political perspective of the body as consumer and consumed. Let us re-examine this republication by comparing it to some other recent studies on the same theme.

The four sections of Marin's study have as their point of departure several literary works, including, respectively, the fifth edition of the Logic of Port Royal (1683), and a selection of fables recounted by Charles Perrault. Finally there is also an analysis of the portrait of Louis XIV of France by Hyacinthe Rigaud. In the introduction to this translation, Marin describes his assumptions about the body. He writes:

...certain signs have the particular characteristic of being able to exercise an effect on the subject. They have the potential to constitute the subject as a "pathetic I" or, alternately, as the "I" of intense pleasure. Better still, to represent is...to exhibit or display a presence. In other words, the ostentation of the act of representation constitutes the identity of what is represented. Through theatrical display, the effects of a subject are consolidated into an "I" and assume the identity of a self who experiences and carries affect. In theatricality, the effect of a subject finds its own particular substance and value."(xiii)
In hindsight we can see how Marin's thesis quickly applies to a personage of high visibility such as Diana. Let us not forget, however, that Marin adds a theological overview to his study. Here, in fact, is where he clearly departs from the other studies which we will consider in this essay. Yet somehow, the circle comes around again to force closure. Diana, who reflects the secular considerations on the body found in the other books of this review has also been called by Canadian theologian Brian Walsh ‘the first postmodern saint', a role bestowed upon her by her millions of admirers, most of whom have vicariously known her through the media. Ironically, Marin's study, while it begins with semeio-theological considerations of the Eucharist, ends with a focus on another flashy royal/quasi divinity: Louis XIV of France. The latter, like Diana, is presented vicariously through his highly mediated portrait.

The first three parts of Marin's study are constrained by literary texts, namely the Logic of Port Royal and later, the fables of Charles Perrault. Marin's reflections on the Eucharistic utterance "This is my body" are developed to show how these words subsume both the present and the past within themselves. In their articulation, the words become signs; Marin writes that "[t]he act of uttering the eucharistic formula, words, and institutional signs has the power to make truly present on the altar a new and miraculous thing — the body of Jesus" (25). Similarly in his analysis of Perrault's fables (including, among others "Tom Thumb", "Puss-in-boots" and "Red Riding Hood" and including the story of how Aesop manipulated his staged or "produced", unnatural body in order to communicate through the necessary signs that saved him from an unjust punishment), Marin depends on the written text to show how an anti-body, that is, a fictionally produced body (like the talking cat or the wolf or the tiny man) acts as the articulator, pointing to other bodies as a sign of the consumer and the consumed. He warns us, however, to be aware that in his structural analysis, he is engaged in "serio ludere" because "serious playing may be the only way to conduct a truly radical criticism"(161)

In none of the other books is "serio ludere" even considered. For example, Thinking Bodies (1994) is a collection of essays that derives from the philosophical questioning of the post-Cartesian separation of the body of the real and the body of the symbolic. In other words, it examines the philosophical exigency that we (re)think the body. In the opening essay, Jean-Luc Nancy explains the necessity of reproposing the body as episteme: the body, interior and exterior, articulates the sign but at the same time remains trapped by the sign and by sense. The body represents Hegel's dualistic interpretation of sense. According to Nancy, it is inliterature that we most see the body problematized because literature "mimes the body, or makes the body mime a signification (social, psychological, historical, heroic, etc.), or mimes itself as body" (21). While in effect in agreement with Marin, there is none of Marin's sense of play of the "produced" body in Nancy's view. The body-as-sign in the way it is proposed by Nancy also represents the central preoccupation of most of the essays of Feminine Feminists (1994), discussed in detail below, that further elaborate on the cultural and transcultural nature of this sign. But Nancy goes beyond the concept of body as articulating organon into metaphysical enquiries where he posits the body as having "the same structure as spirit, ... without presupposing itself as the reason for the structure"(26-emphasis by Nancy). Here he parallels the enquiries of the Italian post-Romantic thinker Niccolò Tommaseo, who in his proto-semiological treatise on literary aesthetics, Della bellezza educatrice (1838) had also problematized the body vis-à-vis literature, and had concluded that indeed, ‘In the beginning was the word and the word was made flesh'. In her response to Nancy, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak focuses on the issue of the incarnated embodied spirit (of God), arguing that the western monotheistic approach to this issue does not include alternative, polytheistic interpretations. She calls for a renewed rethinking of the body. The following paper by Gary Shapiro is a further response to Jean-Luc Nancy, whose reflections he reiterates, showing how Nancy pushes us to read philosophy-as-corpus anatomically. Later, in "How to Give Body to a Deadlock?", Slavoj Zizek draws on Lacanian representations of need-demand-desire to describe the relationship between "reality" and "symbolic bliss". His elucidation of Lacan's "objet a ", the gaze which prevents the circle of pleasure from closing but simultaneously opens the possibility of pleasure-in-displeasure, is particularly well exemplified by his note on the American penchant for what Zizek calls nonism: non-fat, non-allergenic, non-threatening etc.

The machine as body is the focus of the essay entitled "Por causa mecánica", written by Benigno Sanchez-Eppler. The author describes Cirilo Villaverde's novel Cecilia Valdes (1882) in which the doctrine of blanqueamento, of whitening the black slaves through the coupling of black women with white men, serves as a backdrop for the plot. Sanchez-Eppler, however, is more concerned with the leitmotif of the metaphoric coupling of black male bodies and sugar grinding machines to produce blond (ie. light coloured) sugar. He concludes that in the metaphor of interracial coupling of black man and machine (which in a sense castrates the black man) we recognize our own complicity with various modes of oppression.

Continuing the observation that Jean-Luc Nancy had made in the opening essay regarding the problematizing of the body in literature, the essay entitled "Writing the Body" by Anne Tomiche gives a perspicacious analysis of Marguerite Duras' L'amante anglaise. The novel deals with the murder and later dismemberment of the body of Marie-Thérèse, a deaf mute. Tomiche argues that the work hints at how fragmentation deconstructs the subject, and the text as well, even as Derrida had proposed in Glas. She offers numerous examples to show how the diegesis and the narrative of the text are constituted by "cuts", both metaphorical and not, and by fragmentation; thus the text paradoxically resists totalization while calling for it. Here is an observation that Louis Marin only teasingly alludes to, and does not articulate fully. Jeffrey S. Librett also addresses the problematized body in literature in his analysis of Schlegel's Lucinde. In this brief novel, spirit is no longer identified with life, that is, with the organ-ized but rather becomes distributed across life and death. Using three incidents of the novel, Librett comments on the polymorphous perversity of the organic body that is supplemented and "read" also through its disintegration.

Three other essays complete the study of how the body is problematized in a literary environment. They are "American Indian Lives and Others' Selves: The Invention of Indian Selves in Autobiography" by Greg Sarris, "How to Reinvent Your Body in Cameroonian Women's Writing" by Frieda Ekotto and Mira Kamdar's "Corporal Politics: Diderot's Body of Representation". Following these, the focus turns to visual and electronic media. Dorothea Olkowski, in her paper entitled "Bodies in the Light: Relaxing the Imaginary in Video" wonders if video images can be instrumental in redefining spectatorship given that, unlike film, videos are less "subject to socially and culturally coded narrativization"(166)

She sees in feminist video not so much a reflection of patriarchal attitudes as a relaxation of phallocentric culture that disempowers women. She calls upon Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus to corroborate her observations of desire as social production (as opposed to lack); she elaborates this concept in her analysis of Split, a piece by feminist video artist Ardele Lister. Olkowski's observations are interesting; nevertheless one wonders if they can be applied to film either diegetically or narratorially or both. In addition there is the added problematic of the constantly blurred delineations between video and film that Olkowski does not address.

Television as a news medium is the subject analyzed by Peter Brunette in"Electronic Bodies/Real Bodies". Despite the fact that he does not specifically refer to theorists such as Lacan (imago du corps morcelé) or Blanchot (the fragmentary) who have suggested a rethinking of the body as discourse, (in Brunette's case, electronic discourse), he offers nonetheless some perspicacious observations on the role of the authoritative nature of the body as it is used by television news anchors, by tv news reporters and as it is interpreted by the viewers. In fact, Louis Marin had already prepared the stage for this study in the essays that close Food for Thought which deal with the body of Louis XIV as it is mediated through a portrait.

The body as sexual subject is the focus of the Screen Reader in Sexuality, (1992) an anthology of sixteen essays published in Screen from 1975 on.

The opening essays review the early studies into how Lacan's rereading of Freud gave rise to poststructuralist theories between reader and text, between subject and object. The anthology opens with Laura Mulvey's controversial essay of 1975 "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" in which the author proposed that, diegetically, popular cinema was presented only through the male gaze. Furthermore while the latter is active, the female is its passive object. The presence of an active female subject, according to Mulvey, signals the reawakening of castration anxieties. This seminal work opened up the field of film criticism to psychoanalysis. The Reader then follows with Screen's editorial response to the debates deriving from the use of psychoanalytic theory in film criticism. While the editors were not opposed to it, they did express several reservations questioning the validity of psychoanalysis as science, questioning its applicability to film criticism, and addressing the difficulty of accessing Lacan's interpretations of psychoanalysis because his "expositions and applications are full of obscure passages so that the reading...becomes a torment of endless rereadings in the effort to understand"(37). Stephen Heath's contribution, entitled "Difference" again returns to Lacan and specifically the latter's discussion of the statue of Saint Teresa by Bernini. For Lacan, the statue represents the jouissance of woman. Heath sees in Lacan's interpretation a refutation of the psychoanalyst's own work on the theory of castration. Heath's conclusion is that psychoanalysis, while understanding the nature of gender and subjectivity, nonetheless continues to theorize sexual difference based on the phallus, that is, something which man has but woman is lacking. He warns us that "[t]he representation of sexuality — ‘masculine', ‘feminine' — is one of the most dangerous operations of equivalence (in which psychoanalysis has played and plays its part), and it is no surprise that suchrepresentation should be the great problem, the great affair, of dominant cinema today (with its ‘new sexuality')."(91). Subsequently Dugald Williamson's article "Language and Sexual Difference", as does Stephen Heath's study, proposes that the Lacanian notion of phallus should be construed as both organ and signifier. Williamson discusses how the subject begins to understand the meaning of the phallus, passing from the Imaginary to the Symbolic. He supports his observations with Benveniste's differentiation between "language" and "discourse" and concludes that the Lacanian marriage of psychoanalysis and linguistics is not a happy one.

The readings of Part 2 of the Reader deal with pornography and show how the definition of the term has gradually become extended to include all sexist patriarchal behavior. In her article on "What's Wrong with ‘Images of Women'", Griselda Pollock focuses on how understanding pornography depends also on how a patriarchal society represents women. She bases her observations on magazine ads, some of which are presented in "his" and "hers" versions. Her intent is to show the relationship of pornography as genre to the dominant ideology of a culture at a specific time in history. A similar enterprise is undertaken from a political perspective by Karen Pinkus, as will be seen later. Pollock's observations, written in 1977, are especially interesting when reviewed from a distance of twenty years, years in which viewing the media as representative of ideological practice has been well accepted and developed.

John Ellis in his essay "On Pornography" discusses how the representation of a woman's body often becomes fetishistic in a Freudian sense. Pornography, according to Ellis, leads to fundamental issues surrounding the definition, or lack thereof, of sexuality and of the nature of male pleasure. He also observes that, in the end, it is often the legal arena which determines, for the spectator, which forms of pornography are allowed and which are censored. Subsequently both Paul Willemen and Claire Pajaczkowska critize Ellis for his focus on the (heterosexual) male gaze. Pajaczkowska in particular advocates that the bisexual nature of the pre-Oedipal subject be considered in discussing pornography and argues against using Freud's theories of fetishism because of their problematic nature. She points out that, in effect, "John Ellis's theory of heterosexuality is simply heterosexist, just as his theory of fetishism is fetishistic (stopping the film to identify, to find the one thing that would constitute the fetish)."(192)

The discussion on pornography ends with Lesley Stern's overview offeminism and pornography. She differentiates between the sex of pornography and the sexism; between fantasy and phantasy. The first term refers to "conscious imaginings, daydreams, inventions, make-believe"(214) while the latter is used, as Freud had used it, to denote "fundamental unconscious structures which transcend individual experience"(213). Finally Stern delineates the differences between fantasy and fiction which often serves to structure and organize fantasy. She argues that pornography is fiction in a condensed form and is also over-determined by sexual fantasy. She completes her observation with the suggestion that filmic fiction can certainly be used to challenge the notion of sexual identity that is fixed, and that it be used to construct diverse sexualities for feminism.

The female spectator is the primary thematic concern of the essays in Part III. In the first, "Film and the Masquerade: Theorizing the Female Spectator", the author, Mary Ann Doane, reproposes Laura Mulvey's theory of the active male gaze vs. the passive female as an opposition of proximity and distance. She exemplifies her observations with an insightful analysis of Un Regard oblique, a black and white photo taken in 1948 by Doisneau. In this she elaborates upon Luce Irigaray's description of the dichotomy between proximity and distance as it is proposed in her essay "Women's Exile". Later, she focuses on female masquerade in film which represents "an acknowlegement that it is feminity itself which is constructed as a mask"(234) However, we shall see later in Karen Pinkus' study of advertising during the Fascist regime in Italy that the politics of the moment imposed the same kind of acknowledgement as far as masculinity was concerned as well. It is worthwhile also to compare Doane's article to Italianist Angela Forti-Lewis (1992) who has written on male masquerade.

Later, Jackie Stacey again draws upon the work of Laura Mulvey to analyze two films that deal with one woman's obsession with another woman: All About Eve (1950) and Desperately Seeking Susan (1984). She notes the frustrating options from which the female spectator must choose: masculinization, marginality or masochism. She argues for a model of cinematic spectatorship that is more complex and that separates gender identification from sexuality.

The Reader then turns its attention to the images of men. Two essays, "Don't Look Now: The Male Pin-up" by Richard Dyer and "Masculinity as Spectacle" by Steve Neale problematize the term "masculinity". The dominant male gaze is explored in relation to male homosexual desire, to male masochism and to racism and sexism. Dyer points out that thedichotomy between active male/passive female continues to exist even when the female gaze is on the male pin-up body. He writes that this has been maintained "in the history of the pin-up, where time and again the image of the man is one caught in the middle of an action, or associated, through images in the pictures, with activity."(270). It is regrettable that no attention has been allowed the teenage pin-up male intended for the gaze of the teenage female. It would appear that there is in play still another discourse that elicits a sexual response but not necessarily through muscularity or action as Dyer has suggested. The sequencing of the androgynous Just Be ads of Calvin Klein which focus on attitude (bad attitude is good) would also be an interesting addendum to Dyer's comments. Neale, on the other hand, speaks of the repressed representation of homosexual desire in film. His observations will also be echoed by Karen Pinkus in her culturally and historically specific analysis of Italian Aquasol trench coat ads. It is also worthwhile to compare the observations of Dyer and Neale to Marin's comments on the portrait of Louis XIV where it is not masculinity but historicity that is highly problematized. While Marin never engages in a discourse of masculinity, his comments on representation are nevertheless appropriate to the theme of pornography and exhibitionism. He writes:

the act of representing involves showing oneself to be representing something. Representation constitutes its subject reflexively, that is, by exhibiting it. It thus effects a process of epideixis that picks out qualifications, justifications, and titles that are to describe the being of whoever is to be made present. Representation reproduces the conditions that make possible the reproduction of a given being and does so both in fact and by right.(194)
These are ominous words indeed if we look forward to Neale and Dyer's essays, and even further to the alleged involvement of media and readers in the death of Princess Diana.

The closing essays of the Reader repropose the main themes of the articles: gender, difference, subjectivity, gaze. Annette Kuhn's overview of soap operas as constructs of female gendered narrative and identification has been the point of departure for subsequent more detailed analyses of the genre, including Where The Girls Are. Growing Up Female with the Mass Media by Susan J. Douglas among others.

In her re-thinking of the body, Karen Pinkus restricts the parameters of her study to the years of Fascism in Italy. Bodily Regimes. Italian Advertising under Fascism (1995) purports to delve "into the dark reaches of Italianmemory and [sift] through the forgotten icons of a generation that now passes itself off as dead" [See note 1]. It is a horrifying consideration, however, that Pinkus' book may continue to reflect attitudes that remain under various guises to this day in advertising. Pinkus openly acknowledges the politics inherent in her attempt to repropose the Fascist era, and specifically the years after 1922 and before WWII. She discusses how the Italian imperialistic agenda in Africa was extended into contemporary stylized advertising which sought to manipulate the black body, especially the female black body, by iconographically imbuing within it illicit sexuality. Later, the image was extended to the Jews as well. She also observes that the Italian attitude towards the black body is evident even today in advertising such as that proposed by Benetton. She writes that the clothing company's "proposed all-inclusiveness masks the single most significant binary opposition of colored/white and empowered/subordinated on which the real economy of the international clothing and textile industries is based" (80). One may add that since the advertising campaign for Benetton and other companies is often global and "understood" by consumers throughout the world, such racist/racial complicity extends well beyond the borders of Italy.

Bodily Regimes also explores how the idealized "fascist" body was constructed through advertising. Often it was modelled on Mussolini's own body, although there are no advertisements included that exemplify this. Pinkus also sees Italy as a politically and culturally unified country under the Fascist regime. Thus the advertisements analyzed do not address the geopolitical divisiveness of the North of Italy vs. the Mezzogiorno (the South) which would bring to the fore once again issues of color and race. Nor does Pinkus address how advertising of the time reflected Fascist policies of the ethnic cleansing of the white Slovenes who had been annexed to Italy after WWI, and who, in a play on words were often referred to as ‘slaves' (the Italian Slavi rendered schiavi ). What she does provide, however, is a thoughtful and thorough analysis of how Fascist politics coopted the (mostly male) body, whether fragmented (her analysis of how the hand was used in advertising is especially interesting), or as homunculus (like the Buitoni pasta doughboy), or even as absence-of-body, into its ideology. She also offers analyses of ads that address representations of homosexual desire. The changing role of women is also discussed, and in this she complements the work of Robin Pickering Iazzi discussed below.

In the background of this study remain the American advertising principles and techniques on which much of the work discussed was based. It will befascinating to compare Pinkus' observations of the Fascist regime as it was reflected in its representation of the body through advertising, to how the American print media of the same era promoted the political ideology of the US.

Feminine Feminists. Cultural Practices in Italy (1994), is a volume of twelve essays. These are presented not as a historical or even socioliterary overview of feminism in Italy but rather, are intended to show how the feminist perspective is reflected in Italian culture, both formally and informally. The collection assumes one important base, namely that the Italian feminist movement is "extraordinarily heterogeneous" (xi). Feminine feminists are specifically defined as "politically conscious women who explore ways of enhancing their femininity through an ironic distance that was not present in the past. That is, they act with a consciousness of being feminine for their own pleasure and out of a personal, subjective choice." (xiii).

In the opening essay there is a sociocultural introduction to the cult of the madonna figure in Italy. The author, Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum sees it as bipartite, consisting of the ecclesiastically legitimized white madonna and the socially accepted black madonna who recalls her pagan goddess roots. The essay shows clearly and effectively how madonnas of everyday cultural practices in Italy (the midwives, the protectresses, the witches/healers, the mourners and the sybills) have come to represent challenges to gender injustice in Italy and in Italian America. She argues convincingly that these challenges are reflected even in Italian politics. An excellent example, which Chiavola Birnbaum does not mention, of how the Italian black madonna has informed and is treasured in the Italo-North American psyche is the extremely popular children's series Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola where injustices, including gender injustice, are ably dealt with by the black madonna protagonist.[See note 2]

In the second essay, "Unseduced Mothers", Robin Pickering-Iazzi presents a brief portrait of the Woman-Mother as she was idealized by the Fascist regime. She focuses on woman as reading subject and includes the antifascist attitudes of many women readers and writers of the day, who rejected the official sociopolitical ideology. The resistance to accepting women beyond their traditional roles of wife and mother, as is portrayed in the aggressive and "virile" literature of the Futurist male writers and specifically Filippo Tommaso Marinetti himself, is described by Gabriella Parati in "The Transparent Woman". Borrowing from Gianni Vattimo's La società trasparente (The Transparent Society,) the author convincingly demonstrates how the discursive practices of the Futurist agenda deniedwomen an independent signified. Women could establish themselves as signifieds only through male intervention. Parati reviews the writings of various female futurists, concluding that in essence, even they were co-opted eventually into "silencing the woman by engendering her"(57). Essays such as this one underscore the major weakness in Louis Marin's study: reproposed a decade after the original, a decade in which numerous other studies have dealt with gender politics, it is all too obvious that in Food for Thought no allowance is made for a female/feminine/feminist interpretation of Marin's political/theological outlook.

In the essay following "Unseduced Mothers", entitled "Filial Discourses. Feminism and Femininity in Italian Women's Autobiography", Maria Marotti provides a challenge to the silencing of woman in traditional discursive practice by means of autobiography. Autobiographies written by Italian women show similar characteristics to those of other women; here too we may perceive the blurring of fictional and nonfictional genres. On the other hand, there are also notable differences between Italian women's autobiographies and those described in Elaine Showalter's fundamental study, "Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness" . In the latter, Showalter has proposed a tripartite faceting of British autobiography. "Feminine" writers are women of the 19th century who accepted the contemporary male assumptions of female nature. "Feminist" writers, that is, women writing at the turn of this century, rejected them while "female" writers of modernist and contemporary periods have derived an autonomous art from female experience. Marotti elaborates on Showalter, showing that, in Italy at least, autobiographies by women would more clearly be considered as "prefeminist" instead of feminine, and as "neofeminist" instead of female. Marotti discerns a common pattern in autobiographies written by Italian women in their resistance to patriarchy, whether this be conscious or not. Furthermore, she also points out the double bind in which many of these writers find themselves caught: "in order to overcome the danger of being silenced like their mothers, Italian women writers... had to step over to the paternal side; they often had to ‘speak and write as men'" (83). Her comments and observations are consonant with Luce Irigaray's theory of the dichotomous relationship between distance and proximity, which does not allow the feminine to speak itself from the outside unless it identifies with the masculine. Marotti's comments concur as well with those made by Greg Sarris in his essay in Thinking Bodies. There he distinguishes between Indian autobiographies and autobiographies by Indians. In the former there is always the mediating but absent voice of the usually non-Indian editor. He points out that recently autobiographies ofIndian women have been appropriated by essentialist discourse, as those of Italian women have also been appropriated by traditional paternalistic discourse. In both cases, the autobiography becomes what Louis Renza termed "prose fiction" (Thinking Bodies 145)[See note 3]. Similarly, Frieda Ekotto in her article "How to Reinvent Your Body in Cameroonian Women's Writing", also found in Thinking Bodies, expresses the concerns of both Sarris and Marotti. Cameroonian women are traditionally objects of male exchange or, in capitalist economies, vulnerable and exploited labor. She urges that Cameroonian women reinvent a new body through writing.

Nancy Chodorow's theorization of gender and sexual difference is the point of departure for Giovanna Miceli Jeffries' reappraisal of caring and nurturing within a feminist environment. She argues that women who choose to be nurturers "do so with an understanding that a nurturing woman is in a historical continuum, enacting a decisive, different ethical operation in society" (104) She concludes by proposing that political legitimacy be given to traditionally feminine practices and that these become an integral part of the feminist agenda. Following, Carol Lazzaro-Weiss applies to the detective novel written by Italian women the observations of Teresa de Lauretis regarding Umberto Eco's Il nome della rosa (Name of the Rose). de Lauretis regards Eco's semiotic logic as being strictly male, and as seeking to ensure its own survival. On the other hand, the novels of women detective writers follow a different logic. After examining some recent examples of the genre, Lazzaro-Weiss concludes that while a detective novel cannot solve questions of justice and equality, it nevertheless shows how women are producing gendered visions and criticisms of this literary genre.

Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, as well as his other works serve as a point of departure for Maurizio Viano's "Feminism in High Culture, Femininity in Popular Culture. Italy in the Nineties?" Viano writes a thought piece in which he reflects on Alice Jardine's complaint that feminist men like Eco and himself "may have learned a new vocabulary perfectly, but have not paid enough attention to syntax and intonation" as far as feminism is concerned(140).[See note 4] He describes femininity in Italy in relation to the Italian preoccupation with bella figura, summarizing its advantages and disadvantages vis-à-vis feminist ideology. He suggests that "what we need to do is to gain a political control over the pleasure in looking (good)"(148) But as Beverly Allen warns in the following essay, looking (good) has intense political ramifications. Using the 1975 Armani collection as illustrations, she describes how, in its reconfiguration of the social, postmodern society has created products that are both national andpostnational. Armani 1975 can certainly be read in its postnational, postmodern context: masculine, wide shouldered women's apparel that were immediately accepted as "new" throughout the world while simultaneously recalling the "old" nostalgified glitter of Hollywood films of the 1930's. However, read as "national" product, Armani 1975 recalled only the fashions of Italian Fascism during which time access to Hollywood films was limited for Italians. She observes that, in fact, "Fascism in Italy, far from disappearing with Mussolini, is alive and well and considered an appropriate response to social unrest(168). In light of her ominous conclusion, she urges that we claim our authority to dispute representations of ideologies that involve the body as a final site.

Eugenia Paulicelli continues the focus on fashion; she presents the topic as a bipartite grammar, both verbal and visual. Both words and images point to a discourse that has social and political ramifications. The discourse of fashion is fragmented into numerous intertextual "know-ledges" that, segmented as they are, dull our critical acumen. Paulicelli corroborates the Barthian view that the discourse of fashion is both synchronic and diachronic adding that the political ramifications of fashion are evident in what she refers to as hedonistic "Italian style" (178). She describes how politics appropriates the discourse of fashion, so that the shocking apparel of George Sand is acceptable today. There is never an ultimate interpretation of fashion; fashion is the mobility of fashion, or even, as Paulicelli shows through her analysis of a Moschino ad, the denial of fashion. It would be interesting to apply the Lacanian model of petit objet a , as it is described by Zizek, to fashion which acts to manipulate and reformulate reality through the need-demand-desire triad. In psychological terms, the appropriation of the Armani masculine silhouette of which Beverly Allen speaks and the fashion-through-denial which Paulicelli proposes, are the symbolic acknowlegement of the lack posited by Lacan.

Àine O'Healy returns to the theme of female autobiography in her essay on director Marco Ferreri's film of an interview between feminist author Dacia Maraini and dramatic actor Piera degli Esposti entitled Storia di Piera (1982). O'Healy's essay derives from the fundamental query: Whose story is the Storia di Piera? She wonders whether the film may be, in de Lauretis' terms, a regressive Oedipal text which follows traditional development of a narrative through the male gaze. She concludes that because, finally, the film draws attention to the gaps within itself, it allows for the feminist reflection that arises from the knowledge that the story of Piera is not translated cinematographically as it was originally told oreven as it was written/mediated by Dacia Maraini.

In the following essay, "I Don't Know What You Mean By ‘Italian Feminist Thought'. Is Anything Like That Possible", author Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio, "a new immigrant imported as an intellectual laborer into the system of higher education"(210), examines how divergent are the attitudes of Italian feminism versus American feminism. Her position is that of someone who has not felt integrated into the feminist/feminine culture of the US, with the resulting transcultural angst that makes speaking of Italian feminism for her an experience akin to recounting "when [she] was a little Italian girl". (226) In this, she corroborates the point of view of many transcultural female writers describing their US experience.[See note 5] Curiously, however, it seems that for many women living a Canadian trans-cultural experience, where the politics of multi-culturalism have been juridically mandated, the same observations do not hold.[See note 6]

As far as Italian feminism in Italy is concerned, the liberatory movement came from Anglo-American media culture, but was given the opportunity to develop only on the political left. The American culture on the other hand, continued to perceive the Italian woman and the Italian-American woman through the stereotypes perpetuated by Godfather type films and books. Nevertheless, Anderlini-D'Onofrio points out that the Italian feminist movement in the 1970's was one of the most intense with profound sociopolitical ramifications. Following Selase Williams, she traces Italian feminism through its "diunital" phase and beyond to the feminist conceptualization of affidamento (entrustment).[See note 7] Affidamento, according to the author, "does not institute power structures in which women's relations develop; it recognizes their presence and reclaims women's power to inhabit them with other women like themselves" (223). Again the Canadian experience of feminists like June Callwood seems to point to a different conclusion.[See note 8]

Finally, in the closing essay, which could have been effectively placed before Anderlini-D'Onofrio's, author Renate Holub compares the feminist philosophy and praxis of Italian group Diotima of Verona and feminist groups in the US as these concern the philosophy of liberational practices and the notion of sexual difference which informs these practices. She describes in detail the history and the ideology of the Veronese feminist group Diotima, advocating their pro-active feminist pragmatics.She presents an overview of the essentialist/anti-essentialist stance of American feminism, contrasting it to the Italian, which, vis-à-vis the American has existed in a marginal way "next to big-time feminist theory,in the United States" (239). She contends that it is inexplicable that Italian feminisms "are indeed not easily marketed on the North American continent"(239). It would seem, however, that Anderlini-D'Onofrio has offered a possible and plausible answer to this conundrum in her essay: Italian feminisms have developed through leftist political ideologies which the American psyche finds generally unacceptable.

From the evidence offered in the books reviewed, we can understand that the body cannot be read without fragmenting it. It is gendered, sexed, cultured, raced, politicized and time-bound. The mass media have emphasized this in their posthumous treatment of Princess Diana. Louis Marin's original premise of the body as a political entity, whether bound by literary or iconographic constraints, continues to be explored, re-evaluated and validated. On the other hand, his interesting and original comments on the Eucharistic body, so fundamental to his own study, seem not to have attracted the attention of the critics writing after Food for Thought first appeared, making his opening chapter appear to be a footnote among the studies of the body as consumer and consumed.

Notes

1 Perhaps the recent evidence of how Doisneau manipulated the photo entitled The Kiss may offer an opportunity for further observations of Un Regard oblique.
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2 De Paola, Tomie. Strega Nona. An Old Tale. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1975; Englewood Cliffs, NJ:Prentice-Hall; published as The Magic Pasta Pot ( Hutchinson, 1979); also Book/Audio Set, also Strega Nona Doll (Simon & Schuster); also in Big Book format (Scholastic, 1992); also recording (Caedmon, 1984) and filmstrip (WestonWoods, 1978); also musical adapted by Dennis Rosa, based on Strega Nona, Big Anthony and the Magic Ring and Strega Nona's Magic Lessons, produced in Minneapolis by the Children's Theatre Company, 1981 and available on 16mm film or videocassette from Weston Woods, 1984; story also available in French, Spanish. There have been several sequels.
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3Louis P. Renza, "The Veto of the Imagination: A Theory of Autobiography", (1977) New Literary History, 9, p.2.
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4He is quoting Alice Jardine in Jardine, Alice, and Paul Smith, eds. Men in Feminism. New York: Metheuen, 1987, 56.
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5Cf. essays in Hall, Kira, and Mary Bucholtz (eds.). Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self. London and New York: Routledge, 1995.
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6Cf. Goldstein, Tara. "‘Nobody is Talking Bad': Creating Community and Claiming Power on the Production Lines" in Hall, Kira, and Mary Bucholtz(eds.) Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self. London and New York: Routledge. 1995, pp.375-400.
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7Williams, Selase. "Developing an Afrocentric Discipline: Intellectual, Cultural and Political Issues." Paper presented at the "Multiple Tongues" Conference, University of California, Los Angeles, Jan. 31, 1992.
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8Cf. Freedman, Adele. "White Woman's Burden" in Saturday Night,April 1993, 40-44, 74-84.
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References

Barthes, Roland. (1983) The Fashion System. New York: Hill and Wang.

Benveniste, Emile. (1971) Problems in General Linguistics. Coral Gables, Fla.: University of Miami Press.

Blanchot, Maurice. (1969) L'entretien infini. Paris: Gallimard.

Clément, Catherine. (1979) L'Opéra ou la défaite des femmes . Paris: Grasset.

Chodorow, Nancy. (1978) The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoananlysis and the Sociology of Gender. Berkeley: University of California Press.

de Lauretis, Teresa. (1987) "Gaudy Rose: Eco and Nar-cisssism" in Technologies of Gender. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp.51-69.

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. (1983) Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. by Robert Hurley, Mark Seem and Helen R. Lane. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Derrida, Jacques. (1986) Glas, trans. by John P. Leavey, Jr., and Richard Rand. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Douglas, Susan J. (1994)Where The Girls Are. Growing Up Female with the Mass Media. New York: Times Books.

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---. (1975) Le Séminaire livre XX: Encore (1972-1973) in Le Champ freudien. Ed. by J.-A. Miller. Paris: Seuil.

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MacCannell, Juliet Flower and Laura Zakarin. (Ed.) (1994)Thinking Bodies.Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Marin, Louis. Food for Thought. Translated, with an Afterword, by Mette Hjort. Paperback Edition, 1997. Originally published as La parole mangée et autres essais theologico-politiques. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Press.

Marinetti, Filippo Tommaso. (1916) Come si seducono le donne. Florence: Edizioni da Centomila.

Miceli Jeffries, Giovanna (Ed.). Feminine Feminists. Cultural Practices in Italy, 1994. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.

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Schlegel, Friedrich. (1967) Lucinde in Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe. (1967) Ed. by E. Behler, J.-J. Anslett and Hans Eichner. Paderborn: Schöningh.

Showalter, Elaine. "Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness" in New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women Literature and Theory. (1985) Ed. by Elaine Showalter. New York: Pantheon. Especially pp.243-247.

Tommaseo, Niccolò. (1838) Della Bellezza Educatrice. Venezia: Gondoliere.

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Anne Urbancic teaches in the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Toronto and in the Program in Semiotics and Communication Theory at Victoria College (University of Toronto). Recent publications include articles in SRB and Semiotica.


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