This collection of articles examines the complex nature of identity in the Italian-American community. Sorrentino and Krase have constructed a volume that covers topics of diverse interest, such as the development of Italian-American literary studies and the integration of a uniquely Italian-American sensibility into a larger and dominant idea of European American culture. As an erudite examination of contemporary studies being done on one of the largest ethnic groups in the United States, this work is an essential addition to the ongoing and contentious debates about the nature of ethnicity, identity, assimilation and acculturation in the United States.
Italian-Americans compose one of the largest ethnic groups in the United States, numbering more than 14 million in the 1990 census. Though they have often been portrayed in fiction and film, these images are often based on stereotypes not borne out among the immigrant and assimilated population.
First published in 1999. The many available scholarly works on Italian-Americans are perhaps of little practical help to the undergraduate or high school student who needs background information when reading contemporary fiction with Italian characters, watching films that require a familiarity with Italian Americans, or looking at works of art that can be fully appreciated only if one understands Italian culture. This basic reference work for non-specialists and students offers quick insights and essential, easy-to-grasp information on Italian-American contributions to American art, music, literature, motion pictures and cultural life. This rich legacy is examined in a collection of original essays that include portrayals of Italian characters in the films of Francis Coppola, Italian American poetry, the art of Frank Stella, the music of Frank Zappa, a survey of Italian folk customs and an analysis of the evolution of Italian-American biography. Comprising 22 lengthy essays written specifically for this volume, the book identifies what is uniquely Italian in American life and examines how Italian customs, traditions, social mores and cultural antecedents have wrought their influence on the American character. Filled with insights, observations and ethnic facts and fictions, this volume should prove to be a valuable source of information for scholars, researchers and students interested in pinpointing and examining the cultural, intellectual and social influence of Italian immigrants and their successors.
When southern Italians began emigrating to the U.S. in large numbers in the 1870s-part of the "new immigration" from southern and eastern rather than northern Europe-they were seen as racially inferior, what David A. J. Richards terms "nonvisibly" black. The first study of its kind, Italian American explores the acculturation process of Italian immigrants in terms of then-current patterns of European and American racism. Delving into the political and legal context of flawed liberal nationalism both in Italy (the Risorgimento) and the United States (Reconstruction Amendments), Richards examines why Italian Americans were so reluctant to influence depictions of themselves and their own collective identity. He argues that American racism could not have had the durability or political power it has had either in the popular understanding or in the corruption of constitutional ideals unless many new immigrants, themselves often regarded as racially inferior, had been drawn into accepting and supporting many of the terms of American racism. With its unprecedented focus on Italian American identity and an interdisciplinary approach to comparative culture and law, this timely study sheds important light on the history and contemporary importance of identity and multicultural politics in American political and constitutional debate.
Raised Italian-American remembers the history, stories, traditions, and values of growing up in an Italian neighborhood. One of my fondest memories as a child was to take a ride and view the beautiful nativity scenes that were erected throughout the neighborhood each Christmas. The popularity of these large statues, they are called presepi in Italy, started in Italy in the 17th century when it was fashionable to find them in palaces and homes of wealthy citizens. The newfound enthusiasm of erecting a presepi during Christmas may be contributed to Saint Gaetano who openly encouraged people to create the presepi as a sign of devotion. It wasn't until the later part of the 19th century that these presepi became a part of family traditions in nearly every home in Italy. This set is a beautiful piece of art and is a prized possession of the families that own them. I know that Phyllis' grandmother cherished her presepi until the day she died and the family still think fondly of their grandmother every time they see it at Christmas time.
The Italian/American Experience: A Collection of Writings represents a meaningful attempt to inform Italian Americans about their group’s varied experiences in America. This book, unlike many works on the Italian American experience, contains writings that explain why popular negative notions of Italian/American life are inaccurate. The Italian/American Experience lists a number of organizations and journals specializing in Italian American culture and provides brief descriptions of many leading researchers in the field of Italian American studies. This unique text also contains an annotated bibliography of key books that deal with the lives of Italians and Italian Americans. This collection of eleven works offers readers an in-depth view of Italian American culture and heritage.
Best Food Book of 2014 by The Atlantic Looking at the historic Italian American community of East Harlem in the 1920s and 30s, Simone Cinotto recreates the bustling world of Italian life in New York City and demonstrates how food was at the center of the lives of immigrants and their children. From generational conflicts resolved around the family table to a vibrant food-based economy of ethnic producers, importers, and restaurateurs, food was essential to the creation of an Italian American identity. Italian American foods offered not only sustenance but also powerful narratives of community and difference, tradition and innovation as immigrants made their way through a city divided by class conflict, ethnic hostility, and racialized inequalities. Drawing on a vast array of resources including fascinating, rarely explored primary documents and fresh approaches in the study of consumer culture, Cinotto argues that Italian immigrants created a distinctive culture of food as a symbolic response to the needs of immigrant life, from the struggle for personal and group identity to the pursuit of social and economic power. Adding a transnational dimension to the study of Italian American foodways, Cinotto recasts Italian American food culture as an American "invention" resonant with traces of tradition.