Bahar Gürsel

The Depiction of Women in Italian World War I Posters

During World War I, campaign posters were commenced to be used as mass produced tools of propaganda for the purpose of conveying political, economic, social and cultural messages. Several female images were frequently employed by the male illustrators of those posters, and they were utilized to emphasize the importance of the preservation of the nation-state and its institutions which could be achieved by enhancing the strength and integrity of the armed forces during the Great War.

This paper will reveal how Italian women were depicted in World War I posters by focusing on the eminent assumption that the female depictions in those illustrations were divergent; some of them were delineated as fragile and traumatic victims of the war whereas others were portrayed as bold, patriotic and active combatants in addition to the symbolic/mythological female figures that were illustrated as legendary representatives of the nation-state.[1] Hence while demonstrating how various Italian women were visually presented to their own society via one of the most effective and efficient means of war propaganda, this paper will clarify the main favoured/opposed cultural, physical—and to a certain extent—emotional  characteristics of early twentieth-century Italian female stereotypes. In addition, it will also pinpoint the transnational/international viewpoint(s) and artistic approach(es) that certain artists/illustrators—like Aldo Bruno, Mario Borgoni and Achille Mauzan—utilized while creating their campaign posters.

[1]             For detail, see Jia-Rui Cook, “The Posters That Sold World War I to the American Public,” date of access: 15/07/2017, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/posters-sold-world-war-i-american-public-180952179/.