2004 Student Research Conference:
17th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

The Reader as Voyeur in the Works of Italo Calvino
Rhiannon C. Shoults
Dr. Antonio Scuderi, Faculty Mentor

Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities recounts imagined dialogues between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, and stories Polo tells Khan about his travels. This story-telling and receiving relationship indicates a metaphor of Khan as reader and Polo as writer. This reader-writer dynamic is something Calvino explores thoroughly in If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. Through a combined reading of these texts I explore the idea of reading as an act of voyeurism, of the reader achieving a satisfaction through viewing acts of a sometimes sexual or violent nature which he or she couldn't or wouldn't participate in or view in everyday life. In Invisible Cities this idea is conveyed through the metaphor of travel. Calvino characterizes cities as living individuals (for instance, the cities he describes all have women's names) that Polo views from an outsider's perspective, which he then conveys to his listener, Kublai Khan.

Keywords: Calvino, voyeurism, reading, travel

Topic(s):Italian

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 46-1
Location: VH 1320
Time: 3:45

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