The ‘Pulp’ generation between avant-garde and tradition(s): legacies, gender and youth culture in the narrative of Silvia Ballestra, Rossana Campo and Isabella Santacroce

  • Claudia Bernardi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis examines the work of Silvia Ballestra, Rossana Campo and Isabella Santacroce within the context of the so-called ‘pulp generation’ of writers who emerged in 1990s Italy. My analysis addresses three main concerns of these writers: youth culture, gender, and literary legacies. The Introduction provides the methodological coordinates of my study, stating my initial aims, tracing the evolution of my interest in the writers and of my approach to their narratives, and outlining the structure of the thesis. Chapter 1 identifies themes and styles common to the ‘pulp generation’, referring to the work of, among others, Niccolò Ammaniti, Silvia Ballestra, Enrico Brizzi, Rossana Campo, Giuseppe Culicchia, Aldo Nove, Isabella Santacroce, Tiziano Scarpa and Simona Vinci. I focus on the critical reception of these writers and the support they received from the members of 1960-70s avant-garde, Gruppo 63. In Chapter 2, I map out the links between the 1990s writers and some of the authors who emerged in the 1980s, and particularly Pier Vittorio Tondelli, teasing out similarities and differences between the two generations. The remaining three chapters are devoted to in-depth analyses of my three main writers, who have been selected for having already published a sizeable body of texts, for exhibiting a very distinctive evolution in themes, styles, and genres, and for having already acquired the status of ‘canonical’ writers of their generation. Chapter 3 on Ballestra, Chapter 4 on Campo, and Chapter 5 on Santacroce chart this evolution from their early postmodern fiction, dominated by youth themes and experimental language and structures, to more realist forms and mature themes of their later works, which combine a continued engagement with narrative form with a commitment to communication and with gender-oriented thematics. My investigation brings into relief the different treatment of these thematics and the styles adopted to convey them by the three authors. More importantly, it highlights the intertextual dialogue each one of them conducts with the tradition(s) of women’s writing, something that has been overlooked by critics in Italy and abroad. The Conclusion offers a brief sketch of the evolution of these three writers and of ‘pulp’ narrative in general.
Date of Award1 Jan 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAdalgisa Giorgio (Supervisor)

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