“His story” – the exclusion of women in the depiction of nonfiction characters in Italian as a foreign language textbooks: a case study
This paper analyzes the depiction of famous women and men in textbooks of Italian as a foreign language. The textbooks are employed in the specific educational context that involves teaching of Italian to undergraduate students at the University of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina. We interpret textbooks from a constructivist point of view as cultural artefacts that contain not only knowledge and facts related to the specific subject that they are created for, but also dominant ideologies (Curdt-Christiansen 2017). In order to examine the relevance attributed to women in the sociocultural panorama we use quantitative content analysis to calculate and determine the overall number of male and female representatives in different professional spheres and the diversity of professions they occupy. Afterwards, we employ CDA to examine the ideological implications beneath the portrayal of famous women and men and the power relations that shape it. The results demonstrate that the exclusion of women is a commonplace in all textbooks – even those published in a more recent period don’t manifest progressive tendencies regarding gender equality. The sociocultural narrative shaped through textbooks reflects power-structured relations typical for the traditional patriarchal conception of society in which gender inequalities are naturalized and masked as a non-ideological common-sense (Fairclough 1989). Hence, textbooks are recognized as instruments that reinforce patriarchal ideologies and legitimize unequal relations of power.
Keywords: Italian language textbooks, Italian as a foreign language, gender inequalities, exclusion, ideologies, androcentricity.