Second thoughts on the diasporic culture of Italians in America: here, there, wherever (1).
I have already discussed at length the "ragion d'essere" and, I would add, necessity--at least in English--of such a term and its coincidental issues regarding the hyphen. (4) We should not simply cast aside it, or any other neologistic form we might adopt, with statements such as "quante discussioni, forse un po' oziose, intorno a quel fatidico trattino! Da qui in poi, per semplicita, lo aboliremo," as one Italian journalist turned literary critic/historian has declared. (5) Such a dismissive attitude is demonstrative, I would contend, of an intellectual diffidence--indeed, theoretical lethargy--that cannot add, in any constructive manner, to a still much needed critical-theoretical discourse on Americans of Italian descent and the various modes in which they are represented. (6) Further, such diffidence also suggests a lack of intellectual curiosity if not, to be sure, commitment to the field of cultural studies, which, I would submit, with specific regard to Italian Americans, readily transforms itself into a type of socio-political lethargy that, for a second time--especially after our forbearers were forced to leave their native country--lashes out against Americans of Italian descent. It is, in fact, precisely their socio-historical specificity of subaltern that is cancelled out, something we might suspect already occurred in the nineteenth century when, for many of the dominant culture, they were considered colored. (7) They become, so to speak, invisible for a second time, because the critical discourse remains simple and superficial. This said, then, it should become apparent that today we can no longer enjoy the privilege of ignoring such theoretical problematics that lie at the base of much discourse dedicated to both historically non-mainstream as well as dominant culture aesthetic forms of representation of Americans of Italian descent.
Literary and film criticism dedicated to numerous other diasporic groups in the US has, to be sure, developed its own type of theoretical discourse, creating indeed a general mode of thought processes that, for the most part, form part of an overall intellectual articulation of the group under consideration. (8) Such a methodological-theoretical discourse and this inventory have yet to develop with regard to Americans of Italian descent, be it here in the United States or in Italy. (9) The Italian journal, Acoma, for example, published in its first eighteen issues, spanning seven years (1994-2000), two essays dedicated to Italians in America, both of which are translations of essays that had already been published in the United States; the first an abbreviated version of a three-year-old essay, the second a complete translation of a two-year-old essay. (10) The mention of such editorial practices does not intend to impugn any sort of negligence to this or other journals of American Studies in Italy that emulate such low frequencies and importations. However, one might expect, indeed hope, that such attention paid to Americans of Italian descent is not limited to a recycling and translation of what had already appeared earlier in the United States. (11) Indeed, this was remedied, we might say, the following year; in issue 19, Acoma published three essays dedicated to, respectively, Don DeLillo, Louise de Salvo, and Pietro di Donato, and John Fante. (12) Most recently, however, it seems the journal has taken a step, let us say, sideward in this regard; under the rubric Schede, in which Italian scholars speak briefly to the recent state of the art, the journal lists five ethnic literatures of the United States: "La letteratura degli afroamericani," "La letteratura indianoamericana," "La letteratura asiaticoamericana," "La letteratura ebreoamericana," "La letteratura dei Latinos." (13) The lack of an Italian/American category only adds to the assumption that a significant part of American Studies in Italy may indeed still look upon the writings of Italian Americans with a somewhat disinterested eye. Such an assumption is bolstered, I would contend, by members of the journal's editorial board. In their introduction to the monographic section entitled, "L'America che leggiamo: saggi e aggioruamenti," in Acoma's latest issue, Sara Antonelli and Cinzia Scarpino write:
Di particolare urgenza, e in linea con le scelte editoriali che caratterizzano "Acoma," risultano poi i discorsi legati alle tante componenti etniche e sociali del tessuto culturale statunitense ai quali il presente numero dedica una serie di interventi dal formato piu agile. A essere messi in rilievo sono qui i diversi percorsi che, sulla scia dei vari "Rinascimenti" politici e letterari degli anni Settanta e Ottanta (Latinos e asiaticoamericani), hanno portato le diverse letterature d'America a elaborare le esperienze delle minoranze storicamente oppresse (Afroamericani, Nativi Americani). Un discorso a parte meritano, infine, gli Ebrei-americani, le cui opere vengono recepite di volta in volta come interne o esterne alia produzione mainstream. (14)
First of all, one would be bard-pressed not to include Italian Americans among the "tante componenti etniche e sociali del tessuto culturale statunitense"; for better or for worse, Italian Americans are constantly represented in the various media as US ethnics. Second, Italian/American writers could readily fit into at least two of the three categories above. Indeed, a "Renaissance" of Italian Americana, especially literature and film, has already manifested itself, if only by the increased critical activity both from within and outside the Italian/American community. (15) In turn, because of writers like David Baldacci, Don DeLillo, Lisa Scottoline, and Philip Caputo, to name a few best-sellers, Italian Americans might also deserve "un discorso a parte [since their works too] vengono recepite di volta in volta come interne o esterne alla produzione mainstream." Third, and a debatable point, indeed, there are some who would insist that Italian Americans went through their own period of oppression and discrimination; one need only recall the New Orleans lynching of 1891. (16) Finally, we continue to read, the pages of this issue constitute an attempt to "tracciare una mappa dei pieni e dei vuoti di un territorio complesso che invita a una riflessione attenta" and "l'accento dei contributi critici ... cade sui meccanismi che impediscono una fruizione e una comprensione piu completa delle letterature e delle culture nordamericane" (19-20; emphasis textual). By excluding any reference to the existence of the American writer of Italian descent within that kaleidoscopic cultural landscape that we know as the United States, only sets further back the articulation of any semblance of an Italian/American discourse in Italy.
An analogous case seems to exist with the publications of the AISNA (Associazione Italiana di Studi Nord-Americani); the association's official journal, RSA (Rivista di Studi Nord-Americani), has yet to include an essay on Italian Americana, from what I've been able to discern. (17) Its annual conference and subsequent proceedings, conversely, have regularly included sessions and papers on the subject. In fact, its 1985 proceedings of its 1983 conference are dedicated entirely to the theme "Italy and Italians in America." (18) Likewise, its 2001 conference dedicated to the theme "America and the Mediterranean" includes numerous essays dedicated to Italian Americana. (19) Such a distinction in publishing speaks volumes, to be sure, in every sense of the word. It also underscores, I would contend, the presumed reasons why writers such as David Balducci and Lisa Scottoline had originally published in Italian as, respectively, David B. Ford and Lisa Scott.
Be it in Italy or in the United States, the primary benefit from an article's placement in a major journal is, obviously, visibility. In Italy, for example, desired visibility of this sort lies in such publications as those mentioned above. In the United States, conversely, there are three journals dedicated to Italian Americana that regularly publish essays, creative works, and reviews. (20) And while they serve a major purpose--they are the primary organs for the dissemination of works by and about Italian Americans--they are not, nor should they be, the non plus ultra, the ultimate solution vis-a-vis the larger, cultural landscape of the United States. Not until essays on the subject matter appear in journals such as the American Quarterly, American Review, and American Studies can those dedicated to Italian Americana rest more easily; otherwise, we remain in our own little ghetto. Indeed, some "infiltration" into mainstream United States culture has already been successful; for the past fifteen years a handful of university presses and American studies journals have published or republished significant work. (21) In this sense, then, a good part of a foundation has been laid; but much more has yet to be done. In perusing the past six annual addresses of the American Studies Association, for example, it is a curious fact that, among all the topics mentioned dealing with issues immediate also to Italian Americana, there is no mention at all of Italian/American studies, not even an occasional oblique reference to the ethnic origin of an American writer of Italian descent. (22) Such an absence of attention raises a number of issues, and to some degree, adds yet another challenge. For, while there are a number of excellent books in English on Italian Americana, (23) what is still missing, for example, is a rigorous study that, first, examines those whom we might consider the major writers of Italian Americana and, second, then contextualizes them within the greater, United States literary panorama in which we normally situate the corresponding great "American" writers. (24)
Another significant point within this bicultural landscape concerns those who, to use the verb in a transitive mode, "live Italy." Expressed in such a manner, the phrase literally refers to those who live within the geopolitical confines of the country, whereas metaphorically it may refer also to those who live the experience that is Italy and all that it pertains, but they do so beyond its geopolitical borders: namely, they embody in their manner of existence that geo-cultural sign we all know as Italy. Some members of this second group--those who "live Italy" but reside in the United States--seem to define themselves as Italians living abroad, even though their period abroad has been, to say the least, rather extensive. (25) Others, still, identify themselves a tad bit less generically as Italians in America. Sociologically speaking, however, since they have, for a significant period of time, inhabited a geo-cultural territory that is indeed the United States of America, the desire to opt for the appellative of "Italian" as opposed to the binomial "Italian American," might readily, to paraphrase a popular disco tune of the 1980s, make us want to go Hmmm. More seriously, it begs a number of questions, one of which might be: Is there something to the notion that for those who "live Italy"--while residing in the United States--there exists an inscrutable, sociologically semiotic mechanism of the Italian immigrant that springs into action, one who is identified with a certain period of United States history (1880-1924), for example, and who belongs, most likely, to a certain social class--proletariat, for lack of a more adequate term--with peasant origins and possibly illiterate? (26)
Strong words, indeed, some might say. But they constitute the thoughts and whispers of many, spoken "between us," on the QT, but never brought out into the open. It is the proverbial white elephant, the naked emperor, that which no one wants overtly to recognize. Yet, intellectually speaking, the label "Italian American" simply refers to a sociological category that refers to any person who leaves one country for another, with the intentions of remaining in that second location. It is the basic coupling of two terms, a registry's description, so to speak, of the individual, in that the first term signals the country of origin whereas the second indicates the long-term country of residence. This said, then, the binomial "Italian American" should, as we all know, merely signal that Mr. or Ms. "So-and-so" is (1) either of Italian origin or was born in Italy and, if the latter, (2) now has been a resident for a significant amount of time in the United States. (27) The fact that there may be a semiotic that, at first glance, seems difficult to perceive--namely, that such a term has a peculiar connotation with respect to relocating from one country to another, migration, as mentioned above--clearly amplifies further the above-mentioned discussion on class and individual self-identification and complicates the issue for many involved. (28)
These are some of the reasons, I would contend, why the cultural world of Italian America might benefit from a more rigorous theoretical and methodological tune-up, one that takes into consideration both the creative and critical realms. Furthermore, and indeed for reasons slightly different, I would include both those in the United States as well as those in Italy who study Italian/American cultural productions. Indeed, one of the major tasks of all who study cultural Italian Americana is to examine further the numerous factors that lie at the base of such culture, to seek out all possible answers to the various questions we might want, once again, to examine:
Why, we might first ask, did so many of our forbearers have to leave Italy during those forty-plus years of the great wave of immigration? Because the south was miserably poor is indeed true. But is this, in itself, a satisfactory response? On the threshold of the third millennium, we find ourselves among fourth- if not fifth-generation Italian Americans. This said, may we not ask what sort of debt, if any, might contemporary Italy have with regard to those who have lived either directly--immigrants--or indirectly--subsequent generations--the migratory experience and its legacy among the later generations? What has Italy done over the past one hundred years to better the conditions that lead to the great exodus that began at the end of the nineteenth century? (29) What are, today, the roots of those aesthetic works--written and visual--that contribute to the cultural world of Italian America? Why are there, and not rarely, certain unpleasant images in many written and visual works, and yet the writer/director feels the need to insert them into the work? (30) In general terms, then, what type of world do Italian/American artists represent in their works?
These are some of the questions for which we still need to seek out answers, even if such answers (1) are not easy to ascertain at first glance, (2) are not the clutch answers we might readily desire, and (3), further still, are not all positive and consequently do not contribute to a more sentimental overall picture of the immigrant experience. In an attempt to seek them out yet a second time, I would contend, we must pass over that critical threshold based primarily on biographical and accepted historical factors, as well as that which one assumes is based on the author's intentions. Or, as Joseph Sciorra recently characterized it, those "'common sense' histories and assumptions," which constitute an "uncritical and linear account of self-resolve, family cohesion, and religious conviction ending in the boardrooms and suburbia of white America [, which] involves a significant amount of memory loss and obfuscation of the historical record." (31) Finally, in order to complete the cycle, so to speak, we also need to acknowledge that specific, historical patrimony of suffering, marginalization, and exclusion that many immigrants had to endure on both sides of the ocean, both in their country of origin, which eventually lead them to leave, as well as their country of arrival, which, as the apocryphal story goes, made them then pave the mythical "streets of gold."
Antonelli, Sara, and Scarpino, Cinzia. "L'America che leggiamo." Acoma 31 (Winter 2005).
Baker, Houston A. Singers of Daybreak: Studies in Black American Literature. Washington, DC: Howard UP, 1974.
Bona, Mary Jo. Claiming a Tradition: Italian American Women Writers. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1999.
Brown Ruoff, A. LaVonne. American Indian Literatures: An Introduction, Bibliographic Review, and Selected Bibliography. New York: MLA, 1990.
Bruce-Novoa, Juan. Chicano Poetry: A Response to Chaos. Austin: U of Texas P, 1982.
Cannistraro, Philip V. Blackshirts in Little Italy: Italian Americans and Fascism, 1921-1929. West Lafayette: Bordighera P, 1999.
Carravetta, Peter, and Paolo Valesio, eds. Poesaggio. Poeti italiani d'America. Treviso: Pagus, 1993.
Ciccarelli, Andrea. "Fuoricasa: scrittori italiani in Nord America." Esperienze letterarie 29.1 (2004): 83-104.
Cosco, Joseph P. Imagining Italians: The Closh of Romance and Race in American Perceptions, 1880-1910. Albany, NY: SUNY, 2003.
DiStasi, Lawrence. Una storia segreta. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2001.
Durante, Francesco, ed. Italoamericana. Milan: Mondadori, 2001.
Ferraro, Thomas. "'My Way' in 'Our America': Art, Ethnicity, Profession." American Literary History 12.4 (2000): 499-522.
--. Feeling Italian. New York: NYU P, 2005.
Fisher Fishkin, Shelley. "Crossroads of Cultures: The Transnational Turn in American Studies: Presidential Address to the American Studies Association." American Quarterly 57.1 (Mar. 2005): 17-57.
Fontanella, Luigi. La parola transfuga. Florence: Cadmo, 2003.
Frazzi, Andrea, and Antonio Frazzi, dirs. Come l'America. 2001.
Frisch, Michael H. "Prismatics, Multivalence, and Other Riffs on the Millennial Moment: Presidential Address to the American Studies Association." American Quarterly 53.2 (June 2001): 193-231.
Gardaphe, Fred. Italian Signs, American Streets. The Evolution of Italian American Narrative. Durham: Duke UP, 1996.
Gates, Henry Louis. The Signifying Monkey: A Theory, of Afro-American Literary, Criticism. New York: Oxford UP, 1988.
Gattuso Hendin, Josephine. "The New World of Italian American Studies." American Literary History 13.1 (2001): 141-57.
Giunta, Edvige. Writing with An Accent: Contemporary Italian American Women Authors. New York: palgrave, 2002.
Gnisci, Armando. Creolizzare l'Europa: letteratura e migrazione. Rome: Meltemi, 2003.
Guglielmo, Jennifer, and Salvatore Salerno, eds. Are Italians White? How Race Is Made in America. New York: Routledge, 2003. (Also available in Italy published by Baldini e Castoldi.)
Jacobson, Mathew. Whiteness of a Different Color. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1998).
Kaplan, Amy. "Violent Belongings and the Question of Empire Today: Presidential Address to the American Studies Association." American Quarterly 56.1 (Mar. 2004): 1-18. Kelley, Mary. "Taking Stands: American Studies at Century's End: Presidential Address to the American Studies Association." American Quarterly 52.1 (Mar. 2000): 1-22.
La Gumina, Salvatore. Wop! A Documentary History of Anti-Italian Discrimination. New York: Straight Arrow Books, 1973.
Marazzi, Martino. "Pietro di Donato and John Fante." Acoma 19 (Spring-Summer 2000): 55-59.
Marchand, Jean-Jacques, ed. La letteratura dell'emigrazione: gli scrittori di lingua italiana nel mondo. Turin: Edizioni della Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli, 1991.
Orsi, Robert. "Il colore dell'altro: confini, religione, identita in mutamento tra gli italiani di Harem. Acoma 5 (1995): 5-12.
Patriarca, Gianna. Italian Women and Other Tragedies. Toronto: Guemica, 1994.
Portelli, Alessandro. "I rifiuti, la storia e il peccato in Underworld di Don DeLillo." Acoma 19 (Spring-Summer 2000): 4-15.
Pugliese, Stanislao. "The Culture of Nostalgia: Fascism in the Memory of Italian-Ameircans." The Italian American Review 5.2 (1996-1997): 15-26.
Radway, Janice A. "What's in a Name? Presidential Address to the American Studies Association." American Quarterly 51.1 (Mar. 1999): 1-32.
Romeo, Caterina. "Vertigo di Louise de Salvo: vertigine della memoria." Acoma 19 (SpringSummer 2000): 33-39.
Saldivar, Ramon. Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1990.
Sanchez, George. "Working at the Crossroads: American Studies for the 21st Century--Presiden-tial Address to the American Studies Association." American Quarterly 54.1 (Mar. 2002): 1-23.
Sciorra, Joseph. Rev. Heaven Touches Brooklyn in July (2001) by Tony De Nonno. Journal of American Folklore 117.466 (2004): 459.
Shirley, Carl, and Paula Shirley. Understanding Chicano Literature. Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 1988.
Sumida, Stephen H. "Where in the World Is American Studies? Presidential Address to the American Studies Association." American Quarterly 55.3 (Sept. 2003): 333-52.
Takaki, Ronald. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. Boston: Little, Brown, 1993,
Tamburri, Anthony Julian. "Beyond 'Pizza' And 'Nonna'! Or, What's Bad about Italian/American Criticism? Further Directions for Italian/American Cultural Studies." MELUS 28.3 (2003): 149-74.
--. "Italian/American Critical Discourse: Studies for the New Millinnium with a Little Help from Our Friends!" Altreitalie 20.1 (2001): 23-42.
--. A Semiotic of Ethnicity: In (Re)cognition of the Italian/American Writer. Albany: SUNY P, 1998. 109-17.
--. To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphenate: The Italian/American Writer: Or, An Other American. Montreal: Guernica, 1991.
Tusmith, Bonnie. All My Relatives: Community in Contemporary Ethnic American Literatures. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1993.
Valesio, Paolo. "The Writer Between Two Worlds: The Italian Writer in the United States." Differentia 3 & 4 (Spring/Autumn 1989): 259-76.
Vecoli, Rudy. "Emigranti italiani e movimenti operal negli Stati Uniti. Una riflessione personale su etnicita e classe sociale." Acoma 5 (1995): 13-22.
ANTHONY JULIAN TAMBURRI
John D. Calandra Italian American Institute/Queens College
(1) I should state at the outset, especially since the tone of these reflections tend toward the critical, that I would be remiss not to mention those few who have proven to be steadfast in their interest, and therefore diffusion, of Italian/American studies in Italy. I have in mind the Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli, its pioneering journal Altreitalie, and its members, led by, especially, Maddalena Tirabassi. For more on the Foundation and its impact on the study of Italian Americans, see my "Italian/American Critical Discourse." Claudio Gorlier, in turn, has contributed to the recognition and, dare I add, validity of such a category if only because of his many reviews and essays on the subject matter. Others would include: Simone Cinotto (food), Simona Frasca (popular music), Paola Casella and Giuliana Muscio (cinema), Stefano Luconi and Adele Maiello (history). My intention is not to paint American Studies either in Italy or in the US with one brush; rather, to look at those nooks and crannies that could readily be revisited, with the aim of examining further a greater consciousness overall among "americanisti" in both countries. Finally, I would underscore that these thoughts, as the reader will realize, are limited to the literary, which explains any lack of reference to works in other fields, such as anthropology, history, sociology, etc.
(2) With regard to the slash (/) in place of the hyphen (-), see my To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphen-ate. A second point to underscore is the use of a truncated form of the first term, which, in its own right, deserves more space than can be dedicated here. For more, see my To Hyphenate 46.
(3) There would be much discussion, to be sure, about an analogous term in Italian. Such a couplet, composed of two independent terms, might indeed be joined by a diacritical mark, if not joined together as one word, as is the case not only with "italo-americano " which becomes "italoamericano," but also with other terms such as "afroamericano" (or "afro-americano").
(4) In my To Hyphenate, especially 20-27, 33-42, I also approach, among other things, the necessity of a more representative term for Italophone culture in the United States.
(5) I am quoting from Durante's edited volume Italoamericana 5.
(6) Of course, here, for economy's sake, I intend both how they represent themselves and how they are represented by others both within the US and in Italy.
(7) Such cultural-historical erasure becomes increasingly evident as new studies appear. Furthermore, one might also say the same for Italians in the United States for the twentieth century. I have in mind Lawrence DiStasi's long-fought struggle to bring attention to the internment of Italians in the US during World War II. See his Una storia segreta.
(8) A list of primary examples would surely be close to exhaustive as well as most debatable. Nevertheless, I offer up a few names and titles dedicated to the study of other multicultural literatures: Bonnie Tusmith, All My Relatives: Community in Contemporary Ethnic American Literatures; A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff, American Indian Literatures: An Introduction, Bibliographic Review, and Selected Bibliography; Ronald Takaki, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America; Ramon Saldivar, Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference; Carl Shirley and Paula Shirley, Understanding Chicano Literature; Houston A. Baker, Singers of Daybreak: Studies in Black American Literature; Henry Louis Gates, The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of AfroAmerican Literary Criticism; and Juan Bruce-Novoa, Chicano Poetry: A Response to Chaos. What stands out when one attempts such an inventory is the conspicuous absence of Italian/American literature as one of the many categories that make up bibliographies, be they written or virtual. One website, associated with a university, lists six categories, four are general while the remaining five are group-specific (General Background, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Native-Americans, General Background on Literature, Critical Theory, Literary Terminology). See, Research Guide to Ethnicity and Identity in Literature (http:// www.wcsu.edu/library/gd_ethnic_lit.html). Since such an omission occurs at the national level, we should then not be surprised that it repeats itself on an international level. See, American Literature on the Web: Minority Literature/Multi-Cultural Resources (http://www. nagasaki-gaigo.ac. jp/ishikawa/amlit/general/minority.htm).
(9) I would again remind the reader that Altreitalie was, for a long time, the only venue where one could readily find writings in both Italian and English dedicated to the various cultures of the Italian diasporas, especially in the rest of Europe, the Americas, and Australia. See the journal's website at: http://www.altreitalie.it.
(10) The two essays are: Orsi, "Il colore dell'altro"; and Vecoli, "Emigranti italiani e movimenti operai negli Stati Uniti."
(11) The key notion is here the "limited to" that I would underscore. The translation of what has developed in the US is, I would submit, extremely significant for the further development of an intellectual discourse in Italy on Italian Americans. Much has already been done, especially if one takes into consideration those books published on the subject matter by SUNY press as well as Bona's study and Giunta's collection of essays. See further notes 18 and 22 of this study.
(12) See Portelli; Romeo; and Marazzi.
(13) See Acoma 31 (Spring-Summer 2006).
(14) See Antonelli and Scarpino, "L'America che leggiamo" (19). A curious aside--indeed hopeful with regard to a broadening of horizons vis-a-vis hyphenated literature--may be found in Gnisci's Creolizzare l'Europa. With regard to Italian migration literature, that which is written in Italian by the "new" immigrants to Italy, he wrote: "[N]oialtri italiani dobbiamo imparare a imparare dal nostro passato migratorio, oltre che dalla breve ad esagerata (in tutti i sensi) esperienza di potenza coloniale, ad avere ache fare con il presente interculturale, in casa e dovunque nel mondo. Quest'ultima considerazione ci aiuta, infine, a formulare in maniera piu compiuta la rivendicazione di una letteratura italiana della migrazione. Essa deve essere pensata innanzitutto come un fenomeno della modernita avanzata, senza precedenti. Inizia con le migrazioni di intere popolazioni di italiani verso tutto il mondo alia ricerca di lavoro a partire dall'immediato periodo post-unitario e trova il suo completamento nella letteratura scritta dagli immigrati, venuti in Italia da tutto il mondo in cerca di lavoro, a partire dall'ultimo decennio del XX secolo" (83).
(15) From outside the Italian/American community, I would recall the 1987 special issue of Melus dedicated to Italian/American literature and film. This becomes most poignant precisely because it is not an Italian/American voice; rather, one dedicated to the study of "multi-ethnic literatures of the United States."
(16) See also, La Gumina, Wop!; Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color passim; Cosco, Imagining Italians; and Guglielmo and Salerno, Are Italians White?
(17) The journal, an annual, was first published in 1990. The actual issues are difficult to consuit, given certain challenges presented by the national library system in Italy. Nevertheless, AISNA has listed on its website most of the tables of content and, for the earlier issues, essays in MSWord or PDF format, allowing for easy access to most of the journal's articles.
(18) "Italy and Italians in America," edited by Alfredo Rizzardi, RSA Rivista di Studi Anglo-americani 3.4-5 (1985), published by Piovan Editore. There is, as the reader will notice, a slight difference in title between the "journal" and the "proceedings"--Rivista di Studi Nord-Americani vs. Rivista di Studi Anglo-americani--thus constituting a bit of a challenge when seeking our either. In addition, while the "proceedings" carry the title of "rivista" from volume to volume, they carry instead an ISBN number and are produced by different publishers.
(19) America and the Mediterranean, eds. Massimo Bacigalupo and Pierangelo Castagneto (Torino: OTTO editore, 2003). It seems that from the fifteenth conference on, the proceedings now appear as discreet volumes. I would also note that the publisher OTTO editore has indeed a series nova americana that includes a number of volumes dedicated to Italian Americana.
(20) They are Italian Americana, The Italian American Review, and Voices in Italian Americana.
(21) Some examples include: SUNY Press series in Italian/American Studies, directed by Fred Gardaphe; Gattuso Hendin's "The New World of Italian American Studies," or Ferraro's less con spicuously titled essay, "'My Way' in 'Our America'"; other mainstream press books include: Bona's Claiming a Tradition; Giunta's Writing with an Accent; as well as Gardaphe's earlier pioneering Italian Signs, American Streets. Most recently, Ferraro published Feeling Italian, Viscusi published Buried Caesars, and Gardaphe published his From Wiseguys to Wise Men. Let us not forget that the first study to be published in this area was Basile Green's The Italian-American Novel.
(22) The addresses are: Radway, "What's in a Name?"; Kelley, "Taking Stands: American Studies at Century's End"; Frisch, "Prismatics, Multivalence, and Other Riffs on the Millennial Moment"; Sanchez, "Working at the Crossroads"; Sumida, "Where in the World Is American Studies?"; Kaplan, "Violent Belongings and the Question of Empire Today"; and Fisher Fishkin, "Crossroads of Cultures: The Transnational Turn in American Studies."
(23) For a review of what was available until and through the first half of 2003, see my "Beyond 'Pizza' and 'Nonna'!"
(24) Other questions are begged at this point. What should be, if at all, the relationship between Italian Studies and Italian/American Studies in the United States? Should intellectual outlets--journals and book series--dedicated to Italian Studies open their doors, so to speak, to Italian/ American essays and creative works? To date, if memory does not fail me, three Italian journals in United States have already done so: Forum Italicum, Italian Culture, and Italica.
(25) This reminds us of the self-described group of "Italian Poets in America," first presented as a category with the special issue of Gradiva 10-11 (1992-93). A good deal of literature has been written on this phenomenon of the bilingual Italian writer in the United States. It raises a series of issues, to be sure, that deals further, among other things, with labels, as the title of the special number of Gradiva suggests: "Italian writer in America," "writer in exile," "expatriate" are just some of the labels that circulate. In my A Semiotic of Ethnicity, I saw this type of writer included in what I consider a later group of those writers who, though linguistically different, belong nevertheless under the greater umbrella of Italian/American writer. See "Italian/American Writer or Italian Poet Abroad? Luigi Fontanella's Poetic Voyage," A Semiotic of Ethnicity 109-17. Other essays have been written on this phenomenon. One of the more acute contributions to the discussion is a recent essay by Ciccarelli, "Fuoricasa: scrittori italiani in Nord America," where, in closing, he also raises the issue of Italian writing outside of Italy and its relationship to Italian literature. Previous significant essays and collections include, first and foremost, Valesio's "The Writer Between Two Worlds"; the relevant essays in Marchand's edited volume, La letteratura dell'emigrazione; Carravetta's insightful introduction to Poesaggio; Fontanella's La parola transfuga (Florence: Cadmo, 2003).
(26) The "Italian" writers mentioned above have all, to some degree or another, dealt with the issue of their bilingual and bicultural sociological status in the United States. Two elder statesmen who have also championed their bicultural status are Giose Rimanelli and Joseph Tusiani, each of whom has composed prose or poetry in at least three languages (Italian, English, and dialect), with Tusiani also writing in Latin. Others, instead, seem not to have done so in any fashion, except, perhaps, in re-writing or translating their creative work into English. In any event, the many names that come to mind, both those who have and have not negotiated their bilingualism and biculturalism, might include: Luigi Ballerini, Emanuel Carnevali, Alessandro Carrera, Giovanni Cecchetti, Ned Condini, Rita Dinale, Franco Ferrucci, Arturo Giovannitti, Ernesto Livorni, Irene Marchegiani, Mario Moroni, Eugenia Paulicelli, Mario Pietralunga, and Annalisa Sacca.
(27) By significant amount of time, I have in mind no less than ten years during which time the individual is engaged in his/her daily activities, personal and professional, in his/her host country, even if there are frequent trips back to the country of origin.
(28) Might the possible referent here be the stereotyped imagine of immigrant of the early twentieth-century: that short, dark-skinned, moustached individual who travels with the proverbial card-board suitcase with string around it?
(29) We might indeed ask what would have happened if the United States had imposed an earlier limit to Italian immigration?
(30) Two works I have in mind are Patriarca's Italian Women and Other Tragedies and the more recent Italian film, Come l'America, dir. Andrea and Antonio Frazzi. In both works one finds the angry immigrant who ends up physically abusing wife and children.
(31) See Sciorra's review of Heaven Touches Brooklyn in July 459. He continues: "'During the past twenty-five years, scholars and artists have begun to critique and dismantle "common-sense' histories and assumptions by exploring topics such as the larger global Italian diasporic experience, Italian American involvement in labor struggles and radical left politics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, their support of fascism during the 1920s and 1930s, especially among ethnic elites, patriarchal violence and intergenerational conflict, and the privileges of whiteness in a racist society" (459). Indeed, some of these hot points have already been addressed in, among others, the following: Pugliese, "The Culture of Nostalgia"; Cannistraro, Blackshirts in Little Italy; and Guglielmo and Salerno, Are Italians White?
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|Title Annotation:||Notes and Discussion|
|Author:||Tamburri, Anthony Julian|
|Article Type:||Viewpoint essay|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2006|
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