The Journal La Camera Blu: a Multidisciplinary Approach to Gender Studies
By Debora A. Sarnelli
“Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue”, Judy Garland sings, blue like the colour of a literary salon that Catherine de Vivonne designed herself in the Hôtel de Rambouillet in Paris during the first half of the seventeenth century for receiving her female guests. The Chambre bleue, the very centre of refined society, was tapestried in blue rather than the usual red or tan, a bold innovation for the seventeenth century architectural design. In a time when women were often excluded from the public sphere, the space of the blue salon became the meeting place of women who actively took part in the political and cultural life.
The journal La Camera Blu owes its name to that legendary salon. Founded in 2006, the journal symbolically recreates the space of Catherine’s “blue room” as a place of cultural exchange, where scholars can meet to discuss and disseminate gender issues in a multidisciplinary perspective, crossing philosophical, literary, historical, pedagogical and socio-anthropological studies. La Camera Blu was originally born as the official journal of the Doctorate in Gender Studies promoted by the University of Naples “Federico II”. Since then, each issue has been structured around a monographic theme, discussed in the sections “Topic” and “Materials”. Book reviews, exhibitions and cultural events are part of the “Interventions” section. “Postcolonial and Transnational Feminism” hosts short essays focusing on the condition of women in postcolonial countries. The section “The Highlighter”, as the word itself suggests, emphasises current events connected to the topic of the issue. The section “Research Laboratory” embraces innovative experiences from an educational and interdisciplinary point of view. “Gender and Education” focuses on the inclusion of the gender perspective in school and education; whereas the column “News”, which concludes the first five volumes, aims at providing a calendar of events in relation to Gender Studies, and a continuously updated database of helpful websites. From issue number 4 the journal hosts a section entitled “Reading and Re-readings”. During its thirteen years of life, La Camera Blu has slightly changed its original structure, introducing two new sections: “Points of View” and “Reviews”.
So far, the journal has released twenty volumes dealing with different but interrelated topics. War and Women opens the series, exploring how in the traditional representation of war the soldier is called to protect the defenceless woman, who is the personification of the homeland. The reflection moves to Bodies and Language, analysing how, throughout the centuries, women have always been connected to the idea of Nature, whereas men to that of Culture. Issue number 3 and number 4 focus respectively on the concepts of canon and of fatherhood, whereas issue number 5 explores fear.
Emerging Subjects marks the shift of La Camera Blu to the platform SERENA created by the University of Naples “Federico II” for its online journals. This edition is characterised by other novelties: the double-blind peer review system was added to the traditional editors’ review (reviewers are chosen from among selected international experts); and texts written in English, French and Spanish appeared for the first time in the original language, enabling the journal to reach a wider international readership. Since then, the number of essays on English literature and on literatures in English has increased, thus strengthening the connection the journal has with English Studies. In fact, the English language plays a major role: each volume includes headlines and abstracts in English. Moreover, the editorial is always written in both Italian and English. It is a bond also sanctioned by the high percentage of English Studies scholars among editors, contributors and members of the scientific committee. Since the very beginning, the journal has accommodated several articles, with a Gender Studies critical perspective, about Angela Carter, the poets Adrienne Rich and Carol Ann Duffy, Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Joanna Kavenna and others, thus recognising the importance of English Studies broadly defined.
Policies of Today charts how, nowadays, the female condition changes in a social context in which man and woman relationships are far from the canons of the patriarchal family; where there is still a struggle to find innovative forms of coexistence that meet the needs for justice and equality. The focus on the contemporary scenario continues in Subjugated Women, which surveys new forms of alienation and oppression.
Sexuality: Differences, Rights, Representations addresses the topic of sexuality in its forms and manifestations. The two following issues, number 10 and number 11, deal with the theme of gender-based violence. Gender and the post-human are studied in the issue 12, while the 13th is dedicated to The Great War.
Wounds emphasises the fractures inscribed not only in the body but also in the psyche. Issue 15 investigates the transformations related to women’s lives on different levels: the body, the couple, the family, academia, social groups and virtual communities in contemporary society. Escaping Gender Violence deals with the increasing problem of conflictual violent relationships. The connection between sport and gender and the consequent gender-related stereotypes are investigated in issue number 17, whereas the number 18 is dedicated to environmental topics and to women’s engagement with the environment, focusing on stories of pollution, injustice and oppression.
The last two numbers, Gender Visions and Sexist Stigmas and Genderism, address respectively the scientific debate on women’s psychic health, the organisation of services to fight gender domestic violence, and how sexist and gender stigmas are still rooted in relationships and in life contexts.
La Camera Blu, currently directed by Caterina Arcidiacono, specifically encourages submissions from young scholars. It publishes one volume in two six-monthly issues (June and December) and provides immediate open access to its content. It supports the idea that free access to research material from all fields spurs interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research efforts. Authors are thus granted the possibility to address a wider audience.