Poster: Giulio Argenio

Between science and fiction

Children Periodicals and the Sociotechnical Imaginaries of Cold War Italy

This poster was removed in accordance with the author’s wishes.

Giulio Argenio


  1. Adele Guyton says:

    It’s really interesting to see this Giulio — I work on English and German periodicals and the representation of astronomy, mainly earlier on (1890-1950), and I definitely see parallels in the discourses going on. Das Neue Universum is a progress-oriented, fairly nationalist German youth periodical with a lot of professor characters, whereas the Boy’s Own Paper has a strong Christian twist while still promoting science as a central concern for youth…

    1. I am answering with some delay, but the final thesis writing it’s taking it’s toll; I hope everyone can forgive me. Thank you very much for this observation Adele, I am mostly ignorant on the world of German periodicals, but I absolutely think that these transnational continuities should be much more investigated! The name alone of the Neue Universum suggest that there was a strong and durable bond between childhood imagination and space as a horizon of possibilities. The same goes for the Boy’s Own Paper: this deeply felt interest for science in christian culture and education may indicate a higher that expected sensibility towards the changes in mass culture. The Eagle did something very similar I think, and altought not a completely religious periodical, Morris was for sure inspired by a religious understanding of education.


  2. Profile photo ofcbachmann Christian Bachmann says:

    Thank you Giulio, for sketching out your research! I’m looking forward to see it publish and take a closer look at your results. One thing that might interest you, although it is perhaps too late for the space of time you are interested in, is that “Il Pioniere dell’Unità”’s “Atomino” was translated to German and re-published in the GDR, hinting at the science-fiction-discourse spanning borders.

    1. Fabio Guidali says:

      Thank you for this reference to Atomino, although Giulio is probably not concentrating on it. It is indeed quite interesting, because this character demonstrates first that cultural exchanges in this field did not follow just one direction (from abroad towards Italy), and secondly that these cultural products were highly politicised. In fact, Atomino was criticised by workerist groups at the left of the Italian Communist Party for its unreflected love for science.

      1. Profile photo ofcbachmann Christian Bachmann says:

        I couldn’t agree more!

        1. I am answering with some delay, but the final thesis writing it’s taking it’s toll; I hope everyone can forgive me. Many thanks to the both of you! Even if it’s a bit beyond the time span of my research, I cannot avoid to mention Atomino and it’s exemplary figure. I am aware that some adaptions from il Pioniere (especially the vegetables characters created by Gianni Rodari) reached soviet Russia and GDR, but I wasn’t informed about Atomino: I’d really love to hear more on how this translation worked out!

          I must also admit that I am not aware of the workerist critics that Fabio is mentioning, but this is for sure something that I MUST look upon. If you could point me in the right direction it would be really helpful. Was this something coming maybe from the likes of the Quaderni piacentini group? I remember they were quite interested in science fiction and Urania especially.

          Thanks again!

          1. Profile photo ofcbachmann Christian Bachmann says:

            Giulio, if you can read ze German language, as it were, I can furnish you with an article on Atomino in the GDR which focuses on translation issues, editing, and visual modification.

  3. Profile photo ofSTEAD Evanghelia STEAD says:

    Thank you, Giulio, for this nice poster. I am wondering to what extent the strong ideological bias that informs these journals may have not be transgressed in a way by illustrators’ inventivity or desire to play with the set of rules, as children might want to play. Perhaps we could discuss this in the workshop.

    1. Fabio Guidali says:

      I agree, we could talk about this in the workshop. My question logically follows Evanghelia’s: it seems that the same set of pictures (rockets, atomic reactors etc.) had different connotations or meanings depending on the magazine in which they were used. Would a young reader be able to discern a magazine from the pictures or the storyline? What is the role of bubbles, the role of the written word in general to specify the ideological connotation of a storyline?

      1. Thank you again Evanghelia and Fabio for these great question I hope to have answered, at least partially, to this during the live discussion. To add a bit more details, my impression is that, regarding the “set of rules”, writers and illustrators shared the core values of the various periodicals. This was made easier tough by the fact that, while present, the ideological bias was a really “elegant” one: apart from a few cases it’s hard to find overtly violent forms of propaganda and shaming of the political enemies. Nevertheless, this was something that happened more in the “real world” of the associations linked to the periodicals, especially the Azione Cattolica tried hard during the first years of the fifties to discredit the communist side.

        Regarding what Fabio asked I would also like to specify something. Written word and captions played a major role in the characterization of both fictions and recurring features and I think this had various reasons. First of all, there was a strong visual competition with more commercial types of illustration and comics, so many authors tried to go for a style of drawing that was more similar to the commercial one, albeit with different morals and content. That’s particularly true in the Vittorioso, I think: without paying attention to the written text, one could easily exchange their comics for something that was coming from a US commercial magazine. On the other hand, Il Corriere dei Piccoli e Il Pioniere, using most of the time more traditional form of illustrations and less comics, were very keen on a fantastical and fairy tale-like style of drawing. As a consequence, the space for explicit political symbolism was quite small, I think. I must note also that, as a wannabe historian, being more used to text rather than images might have pointed me towards and over-representation of written texts.

        Again thank you all very much.

Scroll to top