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The Cult of the Duce

Catalogue Cover - Against Mussolini

This research project was awarded £482,500 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and ran from 2006-11. Principal investigator Professor Stephen Gundle (Warwick University) was joined by co-investigators Christopher Duggan (Reading University) and Dr Giuliana Pieri (Royal Holloway).

Cult of Mussolini 

The cult of Mussolini is central to an understanding of 20th century Italy and, more widely, to the role of charisma in modern history. Mussolini was the first political leader to harness systematically the techniques of theatre, the visual arts and the mass media to a personalised system of rule.

The cult was vital to the way Italian Fascism became a regime, integrating the population in a system of consensus that appeared solid until it was undermined by the setbacks of World War Two. The aim of the project was to investigate the nature, purposes, functioning and impact of the cult in the period from 1918 until 1945 as well as the aftermath of the cult between 1945 and the present


The project team members curated an exhibition at the Estorick College of Modern Italian Art in 2010 called Against Mussolini: Art and the Fall of a Dictator.  An interactive website featuring the exhibition and the gallery talks that were delivered during it can be visitedhere.

The project also produced three documentary films under the collective title Mussolini: The Story of A Personality. Copies of these in English or Italian can be requested from Giuliana Pieri.


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