Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Wu Ming; Italy; collectivity; Berlusconi; Berlusconism; copyleft; popular culture; digital activism; transmediality; gaming culture; Second Republic

Major Advisor

Norma Bouchard

Associate Advisor

Franco Masciandaro

Associate Advisor

Eduardo Urios-Aparisi

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The early 1990s marked a shift in modern Italian history with the advent of the Second Republic and the arrival of Silvio Berlusconi on the political and cultural scene. Berlusconi’s almost complete control of the country’s media, in addition to his political power as center-right prime minister, presented a unique challenge not only to democracy in general but to Italian culture in particular. It was in this context that Wu Ming, an ‘anonymous’ Bolognese writing collective emerged. In this study, I will argue that the group is both a unique product of and response to the period of 1993-2016, which runs from the start of the Second Republic, through the Berlusconi years and up to the elections of 2013 and the birth of Beppe Grillo’s “Five Star Movement.” This period also fully encompasses the literary, political, and cultural formation of the Wu Ming collective, from their beginnings as members of Luther Blissett to the publication of five of their collaboratively written novels (1999-2009) to their increased presence on social media platforms such as Twitter and Pinterest (2010-2016). My work will be organized into four distinct chapters in which I focus on a different element of the Wu Ming project—their novels, transmedial projects and performances, and digital presence—and discuss the variety of strategies and media platforms that they use to question the dominant paradigms established by Berlusconism. I will also assess and evaluate the effectiveness of the cultural and political solutions offered by each of these components, as some of Wu Ming’s strategies of ‘writing back,’ though aimed at subverting Berlusconi’s tactics of culture creation, might instead have the potential to undermine their project and ultimate goals.