CONFERENCE: The Art of Desire. Homosexuality, literature, difference

Florence (Italy), March 17-18, 2011
Palazzo Medici Riccardi – Palazzo Strozzi

Press conference: March 11, 2011: 12.00 pm,
Sala Fallaci di Palazzo Medici Riccardi

The Province of Florence and the Italian Institute of Human Sciences (SUM) are pleased to announce the first international conference on gay and lesbian literatures in Italy. The event, which is being held in Florence (Palazzo Medici Riccardi and Palazzo Strozzi) on March 17 and 18, 2011, will host Sarah Schulman, Valeria Viganò, Mario Fortunato, Walter Siti, Tommasio Giartosio, Adam Mars-Jones, Marco Mancassola, Franco Buffoni, Maureen Duffy, Paul Burston, and Massimo Fusillo.

The emergence of a “gay literature” has always been a controversial issue: nevertheless, it seems clear that the growing visibility achieved by gay men and women in recent decades has fostered a wide and varied network of emotional, political and artistic relationships.

Moreover, it is difficult to assess what its distinguishing features are: the alleged or actual sexual life of the writer? Is it the plot, the characters or the writing itself? Or rather the implications of formal choices closely connected to the homosexual agenda?

An eclectic and distinguished group of writers – men and women – have decided to give voice and body to the various homosexualities that inhabit contemporary culture and thus triggered a transformation process that encouraged -– beyond the specificity of sexual orientation -– a new way of thinking and living what Audre Lorde called “the house of difference.”

It is not our differences that divide us: it is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences, in this respect, literature yields a crucial form of knowledge. Our conference aims to provide an opportunity for discussion and reflection on the relationship between writing and sexuality, through the opinions and considerations of Italian and international writers on some relevant topics.

The first of these topics, Choices of Freedom, will focus on what has changed since the rise of the gay liberation movement in the 1970s? How has this change affected artistic expression? If there is a collective and/or political dimension to queer writing?

The second session is dedicated to the Tradition and the Individual Talent. Is it possible to talk about desiring genealogies? Is there a gay and lesbian cultural heritage? Are there writers/authors who have influenced you or your own work? How do gender dynamics interact with sexuality?

The third and final session is defiantly dedicated to The Happier Years. Recent years have seen a growing destabilization of the notions of sexual identity categories that were considered relevant in the early days of gay and lesbian visibility. Has the shift from the emphasis on the role of identity to the concept of fluid subjectivity – with its multiple identifications and disidentifications -– influenced your writing? What do you think of post-gay fiction?

The “Art of Desire” conference, organized by Nadia Fusini, Valeria Gennero and Gian Pietro Leonardi, with the support of the Italian Institute of Human Sciences, is part of the Libertè, Fraternitè, Difference campaign against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, launched by the Province of Florence and strongly supported by President Andrea Barducci and by the Councillor for Equal Opportunities, Sonia Spacchini

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