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Italianness and Heteronormativity in Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman / Luca Guadagnino

Manuel Zaniboni


This paper aims at analysing both the multilingual novel and film titled “Call me by your name” written by André Aciman (2007), subsequently shot—ten years after—by Luca Guadagnino in 2017. In the first part I will be taking into account the concepts of: compulsory heteronormativity, homonormativity, gender, sex, skin, social class and gender performance while linking all these terms to the two protagonists: Oliver and Elio; who are embedded in an unfavourable historical setting: post-fascist Italy.

In the second part, I will be analysing all those perversions that imbue the book and the film by shedding light upon: bodily fluids, sexual perversions and Elio and Oliver’s porosity—which is not physical per se but a cultural fact, since they are living within a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multilingual space—Elio’s parents’ house that ultimately creates the room for a more just inclusion of “the other”, without presuppositions and prejudices. Moreover, in order to better understand the two works, I am also going to map out—within the texts themselves—those fluids and humours that act as leitmotiven that ultimately create “texts” of queer comprehension that consequently enable the reader to comprehend the homosexual fabric of the narration, e.g. the sperm stain on Oliver’s shirt that has been passed onto Elio at the end of the narration. As a matter of fact, those bodily fluids create a sort of continuity in the relationship between the two male figures: the sheets embedded in Oliver’s skin scent, the odour of sweat in the swimsuit, Elio’s cum into the ripped peach (that is eaten by Oliver soon thereafter) and the aforementioned sperm stain onto the fabric of Oliver’s shirt.

To conclude with, may we have a better grasp of queerness by observing the world Oliver and Elio have been living in? The post-fascist Italy that contrasts with the microcosmos, that is the villa, characterized by cultural openness, open-mindedness but most of all: open heartedness.


Primary sources:

Aciman A., Call Me By Your Name, London, Atlantic Books, 2009.

Call Me By Your Name, dir. by Luca Guadagnino, Sony Pictures Classics & Warner Bros. Pictures, 2017.

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