Call for Papers  

Gerardina Antelmi

Gerardina Antelmi

Interstices of Silence. What the Sky Does Not Narrate


Considering the sky as a spatial text re-created by men, this paper will question whether there is a missing perspective in the Western interpretation of the Cosmos, and to what extent the reading of the sky would be enriched by the contribution of the female viewpoint.

This contribution will commence by examining the myth of Arachne who, in competition with Athena, is punished by the goddess as her tapestry represents Jove, Neptune and other gods tricking humans, specifically women. In contrast Athena's weaving illustrates gods punishing those humans who dared challenge them (Metamorphosis, VI). Taking this myth as a model expressing two competing perspectives of the world, in which the female voice is silenced, the argument will extend to explore a literary example where human vicissitudes are interrelated with gods' will. In Chaucer's The Knight's Tale the characters are associated with specific gods, Mars, Venus, and Diana; the female character, Emelye, has to surrender to Saturn.

Questions will be asked regarding the selection of human experiences the sky narrates from a Western cultural perspective as opposed to those that are untold. Alongside constellations named after traditional masculine heroes, what aspects of femininity have been projected and perpetuated by the naming of celestial bodies? Is the interpretation of the sky still unique in the post-modern perspective? What might the unsilenced female voice narrate?


Since I graduated at Genoa University in Modern Languages and Literature, I have been teaching, firstly in Italy and then abroad. My main interests lie in Medieval Literature, Linguistics, and Women's Studies. I taught Italian Literature and Language in China at the Guangdong University of Foreign Languages in Guangzhou, and then moved to Cardiff University to teach Italian Language and Literature. In Cardiff I attained my PhD with a dissertation on medieval oneiric literature. I lectured Italian Women Studies at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland; Italian Language and Culture at the University of Split (Croatia), Faculty of Philosophy. At present I am teaching Italian Language and Literature and Women's Studies at Adam Mickiewicz University. My new research project focuses on the medieval terminology related to states of consciousness.



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