Transitive Gender and Queer Performance in the Novels of Mario Mieli and Vittorio Pescatori

  • Marco Pustianaz
Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)


One of the normalizing effects produced by modern sexual discourse is the mutual implication of gender and sexuality, both regulated according to a seemingly natural, symmetrical opposition: masculine vs. feminine, homosexual vs. heterosexual. On the one hand, any overlap between masculine and feminine within the subject is prohibited by a strictly binary definition of gender; on the other, the very contact between male and female bodies is required by the regime of heteronormative sexuality. In other words, gender norms command that the two opposite poles never merge in order to avoid gender confusion, whereas sexual norms insist that they touch for fear of sexual perversion. Caught up within this apparent double bind, a heterosexual body is discursively produced.1


Gender Identity Feminine Gender Queer Performance Transitional Subject Queer Commune 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    For a critique and commentary of the opposition desire/identification in Freud as a precondition of heternormativity, see Diane Fuss, Identification Papers (New York: Routledge, 1995), in particular the title essay, pp. 21–51.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Mario Mieli, Il risveglio dei Faraoni (Milan: Cooperativa Colibrì, 1994). The author’s suicide kept the novel hidden until 1994 and it remains something of an underground novel to this day. As an editorial note specifies, Einaudi was left with uncorrected galley proofs. Their decision not to publish the book was due at least in part to the intervention of Mieli’s family. A subsequent intervention by Mieli’s family succeeded in getting the book off the market, but a few “pirate” copies are still available in Italian lesbian and gay networks. Thus an important experimental work of Italian literature from the late 1970s has remained virtually clandestine despite Mieli’s own radical visibility. It too will be reissued by Feltrinelli.Google Scholar
  3. 17.
    On the “eccentric” positionality of the gay subject, see David M. Halperin, Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 60–61.Google Scholar
  4. 25.
    Vittorio Pescatori, La maschia (Salerno: Edizioni Sottotraccia, 1995); this volume also includes the two subsequent installments in the Teo trilogy, L’odalisco (1989) and L’animalo (1995). La maschiawas first published in 1979 by the publishing house of the alternative magazine Re Nudo.Google Scholar
  5. 32.
    Maschia, p. 9. On the relationship among transsexuality, sexual politics, and gender politics, see Bernice L. Hausman, Changing Sex: Transsexualism, Technology, and the Idea of Gender (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 1995), which probes the medical and technological connections between transsexuality and the discursive construction of gender. For Hausman, the emergence of a transsexual subject in the last century is closely tied to medical authority. It is interesting to read Teo/Tea’s (dis)identifications as a way of interrupting what Hausman calls the “gender narrative,” which naturalizes a “core gender identity” under the scientific supervision of psychology and medical technologies.Google Scholar
  6. 50.
    For a critique of the unquestioned priority of “the political” in gay and lesbian identity politics, see Diane Fuss, Essentially Speaking: Feminism, Nature and Difference (New York and London: Routledge, 1989), particularly pp. 105–07.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gary P. Cestaro 2004

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  • Marco Pustianaz

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