Professor Amatangelo presents “Italian Women at War”

Jackie Cannon ‘20

Chief News Editor


In the third installment of the “Authors on the Hill” series, Italian Professor Susan Amatangelo presented her publication, “Italian Women at War: Sisters in Arms from the Unification to the 20th Century” on Monday, April 16. As editor of this book, Amatangelo broke down each section to explain the different chapters and essays included and elaborated on the reasons that led her to work on this book.


In addition to serving as editor, Amatangelo also wrote the introduction, which expounded on the themes of the book, and the third chapter: “The Female Brigand’s Search for Identity,” which included two literary analyses of Italian novels.


The book was the result of many years of research and work with colleagues, Amatangelo shared. In part, she was inspired by the work of Holy Cross History Professor Emitera, Karen Turner, and her work on women on the Ho Chi Minh trail. However, Amatangelo elaborated that it was key that she didn’t glorify war or suggest that violence is permissible when carried out by women.


“Italian Women at War” includes a diverse array of themes, historical narratives, and literary and cultural analyses ranging from the Risorgimento period in the mid 19th century, the more “official warfare” of the two world wars, and the contemporary, more abstract “war with a lowercase w” following World War Two, such as clashes between citizens or socio-political forces, explained Amatangelo.


She elaborated on many of the themes that reoccur surrounding the role of women in warfare, especially the tendency to see this as a phenomenon despite the fact that the occurrence of women warriors was fairly ordinary. Also common was the need to see these women as helping men, whether that be through following a husband or son to the battlefield, or exclusively serving in non-combat roles, although this conception is false.


“If what they’re doing is special, that means it’s not regular,” Amatangelo stated, describing how, when women participated in these warrior roles, they were still sent back to hold “traditional” roles as wives and mothers after the war. By continually forgetting the repeated role women have played in warfare, society was able to justify this occurrence as a temporary exception, not a permanent reality.


Amatangelo’s lecture was the final Spring 2018 lecture in the “Authors on the Hill” Series, which previously featured Mathematics and Computer Science Professor Gareth Roberts on his book, “From Music to Mathematics: Exploring the Connections,” and Philosophy Professor Predrag Cicovacki on his book, “Gandhi’s Footprints,”  explained Outreach Librarian Laura Wilson, who introduced Amatangelo’s presentation.


“Our library is full of books, and this series gives them a chance to come to life, and gives students, staff, and faculty a chance to explore the topic with the author of the work,” Wilson said, when describing the lecture series. She also explained how Library Director Dr. Mark Shelton inspired the program to allow “the libraries to engage with the campus community and general public.”


In selecting Professor Amatangelo’s publication, Wilson told how the Outreach and Engagement team focused on recent faculty publications with a broad appeal. “We thought that Professor Amatangelo’s publication would have appeal to not only Italian students, but also anyone interested in history or gender studies,” said Wilson. “We also thought that members of the general public might also be interested in this topic, and we partnered with local libraries to promote this event to their patrons.”


The library staff recorded Professor Amatangelo’s lecture, as well as Professor Cicovacki’s, so those who were unable to attend can watch these installments on the Holy Cross Libraries YouTube page at


Although there are no more “Authors on the Hill” lectures planned for this semester, the Library Outreach team is planning for this upcoming semester. Interested faculty or staff can reach out to Outreach Librarian Laura Wilson at

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