The present work posits the phenomenon of the Italian neo-avant-garde in the wider cultural
dynamics of Modernism, Avant-garde Art and Post-modernism. It argues that the Italian neoavant-garde's
understanding and expression of the social value of formalized language and
literariness is to be closely related to Modernist and avant-garde cultural dynamics, and not to
a post-modernist regime of cultural values.
Chapter one presents the Italian neo-avant-garde as a phenomenon to be posited
within the scenario of the changing role of the humanist intellectual in '50s and '60s Italy.
Avant-garde art as a notion and tradition is tackled through Peter Burger and Pierre
Bourdieu's theorizations that are consistently referred to, criticized and used, throughout the
Chapter two focuses on the problems posed by Italian Futurism to any idealistic
notion of avant-garde art as good political praxis. It also explores the rhetorical codifications
of the avant-garde's self-mythologizing discursive practices through the analysis of the
Futurists' use and appropriation of the genre of the manifesto. The relationship between
theoretical discourse and the sense of an end, or epochal crisis, constituting the Futurist
manifesto, is here envisaged as an aspect that is a precursor of the proliferation of theoretical
discourse referred to as 'post-modernism'.
Chapter three analyses the neo-avant-garde's corpus of theoretical writing and shows
that, despite the fact that they did not write a manifesto proper, the rhetorical codifications of
the avant-garde's self-mythologizing discourse are still present in their individually written
texts. The chapter also focuses on the neo-avant-garde's reception of Futurism and on the
similarities and differences between the two movements.
Chapter four posits the Italian neo-avant-garde within the broader framework of the
historical avant-garde while highlighting their use of and relationship with science and
scientific discourse, especially in Umberto Eco's works. It also carries out a comparison
between Eco's modernist understanding of 'form' and literariness and Leslie Fiedler's
Chapter five concludes the work with a lengthy analysis of the use of the montage in
the poetical works of the Novissimi poets Edoardo Sanguineti, Elio Pagliarani, Nanni
Balestrini, Alfredo Giuliani and Antonio Porta. Moreover, it carries out a critical comparison
between the discursive, ideology-oriented and anti-hedonistic use of montaged linguistic
material characterizing the Novissimi's experimentalism and the iconic use of language
characterizing the multimediatic experiments of poesia totale, concrete poetry and
The conclusion highlights the modalities, or in Pierre Bourdieu's terms, the
distinction marks, by which the Italian neo-avant-garde challenge, appropriate, change and
finally perform the practice of avant-garde art as truly innovative art.