chapter  4
16 Pages

Dangerous Children and Children in Danger: Reading American Comics under the Italian Fascist Régime


The rise of children’s literature in Italy during the nineteenth century is deeply connected to the process of state formation which resulted in national unifi cation. Achieved only in 1861, after about sixty years of struggle known as the Risorgimento, the political unifi cation of Italy was not paralleled by an immediate growth in cultural homogeneity; as the Marquis Massimo d’Azeglio famously claimed, “We have made Italy. Now we have to make the Italians.”1 The main prerequisite for cultural unifi cation was a shared language, hence the central role assigned to the school system, which was expected to instil a sense of nationhood through education. In this context, children’s literature served as a powerful tool in the formation of the “new Italians,” whilst also becoming a site for the self-representation of a newly born country.