Teaching Italian American Literature, Film, and Popular Culture

  • Editors: Edvige Giunta, Kathleen Zamboni McCormick
  • Pages: xii & 360 pp.
  • Published: 2010
  • ISBN: 9781603290678 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9781603290661 (Cloth)
Teaching Italian American Literature, Film, and Popular Culture Cover

“This journey through the diverse and varied legacy of the Italian American experience constitutes an innovative tool and resource guide for many other fields and disciplines.”

—Simona Zecchi, i-Italy

Italian American studies has long been in conversation with American culture at large and is increasingly present in American universities and colleges. Yet once-celebrated works, such as Pietro di Donato’s Christ in Concrete, have slipped from the public consciousness, and many scholars fear that representations of Italian Americans in popular culture, as in The Godfather films and the television series The Sopranos, have obscured genuine historical inquiry and understanding. This volume aims to foster a deeper and more complex appreciation for the importance of Italian American texts in the study of American culture.

The editors open the volume by outlining the history of Italians in the United States and exploring the potential of literature and the arts to enable the recovery of a forgotten, even repressed, historical past. Over thirty scholars and teachers then present innovative ways of teaching Italian American texts and integrating them with other texts in courses ranging from American literature and history to multiethnic and women’s studies. Contributors discuss Italian American fiction, poetry, memoir, oral history, and theater and performance. A section on film and television provides an overview of popular as well as lesser-known works and interrogates the stereotyped portrayals of Italian Americans. Other contributors offer historical and interdisciplinary approaches to Italian American texts that revolve around themes of race and gender politics, work and social class, and historical intersections. The volume concludes with a review of anthologies that can be used in teaching Italian American studies.

Carol Bonomo Albright
Emelise Aleandri
Mary Jo Bona
Peter Bondanella
Giulia Centineo
Clarissa Clò
Kimberly A. Costino
Peter Covino
Rose De Angelis
Luisa Del Giudice
David Del Principe
Louise DeSalvo
Elvira G. Di Fabio
Teresa Fiore
Donna R. Gabaccia
Fred Gardaphé
Jennifer Guglielmo
Josephine Gattuso Hendin
Peter Kvidera
Dora Labate
Bernadette Luciano
RoseAnna Mueller
Mark Pietralunga
Roseanne Giannini Quinn
Caterina Romeo
Courtney Judith Ruffner
John Paul Russo
Joseph Sciorra
Ilaria Serra
Anthony Julian Tamburri
Stefania Taviano
Marisa Trubiano
Robert Viscusi

Acknowledgments (xi)

Introduction (1)

Edvige Giunta and Kathleen Zamboni McCormick

Part I: Mapping Italian American Studies

The History of Italians in the United States (33)

Donna R. Gabaccia

The History of Italian American Literary Studies (43)

Robert Viscusi

The History of Italian American Film and Television Studies (59)

Anthony Julian Tamburri

Italian American Studies in Italy (70)

Mark Pietralunga

Creating a Program in Italian American Studies (79)

Fred Gardaphé

Part II: Considering Italian American Literature

Fiction and Poetry

Rich Harvest: An Overview of Italian American Fiction (87)

Mary Jo Bona

Innovation, Interdisciplinarity, and Cultural Exchange in Italian American Poetry (97)

Peter Covino

“Stripping Down” Gender Roles in Italian American Fiction by Women (109)

Rose De Angelis

Religion in Don DeLillo’s White Noise and Underworld (115)

John Paul Russo

Avant-Garde Italian American Fiction: Experiential Experimentalism (124)

Josephine Gattuso Hendin

Autobiography and Memoir

Remembering, Misremembering, and Forgetting the Motherland (132)

Caterina Romeo

Past and Present: Teaching the Family Memoir (141)

David Del Principe

Oceans Away: Rethinking Italian American Autobiography in the Antipodes (146)

Bernadette Luciano

When the Story Is Silence: Italian American Student Writers and the Challenges of Teaching—and Writing—Memoir (154)

Louise DeSalvo

Oral History

Spoken Memories: Oral History, Oral Culture, and Italian American Studies (160)

Luisa Del Giudice

From the Classroom to the Community and Back Again: Oral Histories and the Italian American Experience Course (168)

Marisa Trubiano

Theater and Performance

Italian American Immigrant Theater (175)

Emelise Aleandri

A Lived History under Scrutiny: Italian American Performance Art (182)

Joseph Sciorra (appendix coauthored with Stefania Taviano)

Uncovering and Performing Italian American Stories (200)

Stefania Taviano

Part III: Revisiting Italian American Film and Popular Culture

A Contested Place: Italian Americans in Cinema and Television (209)

Anthony Julian Tamburri

Palookas, Romeos, and Wise Guys: Italian Americans in Hollywood (217)

Peter Bondanella

Language and Dubbing in the Filmic Representation of Italian Americans (223)

Giulia Centineo

Cultural Stereotyping in Happy Days and The Sopranos (231)

Courtney Judith Ruffner

Part IV: Historical and Interdisciplinary Approaches

Race and Gender Politics

Situating Italian Immigrant Women’s Radical Writing in American History (239)

Jennifer Guglielmo

Recrossing Ocean Parkway: Teaching Italian American Literacy Narratives and Racial Formation in First-Year Composition Courses (247)

Kimberly A. Costino

Teaching Italian American Literature through Popular Culture and Intersectionality in an Ethnic Studies Class (253)

Roseanne Giannini Quinn

“How Is Sicily Like Jamaica?”: Gendered Multiethnic Identities and Cross-Cultural Encounters (258)

Clarissa Clo

Work and Social Class

Class and Ethnicity: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching Christ in Concrete (266)

Teresa Fiore

The Immigrant Question in the Italian American Experience Course (273)

Elvira G. Di Fabio and Carol Bonomo Albright

Historical Intersections

Imagining the Italian: Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Italian Immigrant Writing, and the Power of Literary Representation (279)

Peter Kvidera

Travel Literature: Negotiating the Gaze between Italy and America (289)

Ilaria Serra

Part V: Resources

A Review of Anthologies for Teaching Italian American Studies (297)

RoseAnna Mueller and Dora Labate

Notes on Contributors (307)

Works Cited (315)

Index (351)