Changing Culture I. Past and Present Stories of Italian Immigration

Changing Culture I. Past and Present Stories of Italian Immigration
Tiro a Segno Undergraduate Course in Italian American Culture
Fall 2014
Prof. Martino Marazzi
Arturo Giovannitti, first page of Samnite Cradle Song, 1909. Courtesy David Giovannitti, Yonkers
This course provides a cultural approach to the history of the adaptation of Italian immigrants to
American culture and society, and compares it with the present change occurring in Italy, in the
light of an unprecedented inbound immigration. The epical phenomenon of the Italian mass
migration to the U.S. will be examined using immigrants’ words as primary sources – analyzing
novels, poetry, “colonial” journalism and theatre, and private letters–, with a keen attention to cases
of bilingualism and code-mixing. These will be scrutinized by looking, for instance, at the
production of a bilingual poet like Arturo Giovannitti (1884-1959), and of such diverse novelists
like Pietro di Donato (1911-1992) and Garibaldi Lapolla (1888-1954). Another focus will be
provided by the breathtaking inventions of popular comedians like Farfariello (the Neapolitan
Eduardo Migliaccio, 1882-1946) and Nofrio (the Sicilian Giovanni De Rosalia, 1864-1935).
Furthermore, we will show how complex and deep tenets of Italian culture such as Dante’s Comedy,
the enduring fascination of Renaissance masterpieces, or the patriotic allure of the Risorgimento (as
expressed, for instance, in Verdi’s operas, or Manzoni’s writings), were “transplanted” and reappropriated by Italian Americans in a rich variety of ways (satirically, nationalistically, in theatre
and popular songs, in the visual arts, etc.).
Finally we will be comparing the stratified landscape of Italian American culture with the
challenging new scenario provided by immigrants’ culture in contemporary Italy: a country
characterized by huge waves of outbound migration has reversed this tendency by becoming a
“destination” country, home to over 4 million people (roughly the same amount of Italians who left
for the U.S. from the 1870s to the 1920s) from a variety of disadvantaged nations. We will
introduce a discussion on the thought-provoking scene of today’s “new” Italians, through works
like those by Amara Lakhous, Kossi Komla-Ebri, Elvira Dones, Gëzim Hajdari.
Some of the issues addressed during the course will be:
– Unity or disunity? To what extent Italian historical emigration can be viewed in terms of
opposition to Italy’s mid-nineteenth-century political unity?
– Orality vs. textuality? How and in what terms can we account for the weight of orality
within Italian America, as opposed to the sophisticated textuality of Italian American cultural
– A postcolonial Italian culture – really? Contemporary Italy presents a complex scenario,
where postcolonial conditions meet and intertwine the outcomes of the global economic system and
of geo-political upheaval. To what extent is the so-called “global” paradigm critically valid?
Course materials
The course is conducted in English; knowledge of Italian is not strictly necessary, although it could
Course requirements
Final grades will be assessed as follows: attendance and participation, 20%; class presentation,
30%; final paper, 50%.
Class presentation: according to the schedule, each student will give at least one 15-minute
presentation during the course. The presentation will relate on an assignment based on a literary or
social topic addressed in class, and will preferably expand on a specific aspect of a work of art or of
a historical phenomenon related to the migratory experience.
Schedule of bi-weekly course meetings and Readings
1. Introduction. Italy and emigration: outbound, inbound. Here and There: Garibaldi in New
York, Whitman in Italy
Vecoli 1995 and 2010
2. The Italian scene: a smalltown exodus. The American scene, from East to West. “Italian
American” in the OED
3. “Rebellious brothers”: transatlantic and circular migration of a poetical image. From the
street to the page: the first stories
Marazzi Voices, 46-52
4. Saving Private Arturo. The papers and poetry of Arturo Giovannitti
Marazzi Voices, 216-30
Harrington, 105-25
5. The Kitchen of a Novelist. Garibaldi Lapolla and his Grand Gennaro
Lapolla, The Grand Gennaro
Marazzi King
Belluscio, introduction to Lapolla, Fire in the Flesh
6. Tragic modernity, modernist writing. Pietro di Donato’s masterpiece(s)
Midterm Exam
Di Donato, Christ
Viscusi, Buried 53-58, 95-110
7. The Italian American Theatre. Farfariello and Nofrio
Durante 75-94, 103-16
8. Italian Classics in Little Italy. The Italian American Press
Marazzi, “Our Brother Dante”
Marazzi, Voices 22-46
Vecoli 1998
9. Mutual Traumas and adjustments. Booker T. Washington in Sicily, Washington Square Park
by Onorio Ruotolo
Booker T. Washington
10. Piazza Vittorio, Rome. Carlo Emilio Gadda and Amara Lakhous
11. “Embarassing” encounters. A multicultural Italian literature
Orton – Parati
Parati – Tamburri
12. The return of the native. Pietro di Donato’s Christ in Plastic. The global FIAT on an ethnoanalytic couch
13. When We Were Albanians. New perspectives and masters
Lombardi-Diop – Romeo
14. Review session. Final Exam
Required Readings [ * = available at NYU Bookstore and at Bobst Library]
* Di Donato, Pietro, Christ in Concrete (New York: Signet Classic, 1993 [1939])
* Marazzi, Martino, Voices of Italian America. A History of Early Italian American Literature with a
Critical Anthology (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012)
* Lakhous, Amara, Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, Europa, New York 2008
Recommended Readings [ * = available at NYU Bookstore and at Bobst Library]
* Lapolla, Garibaldi, The Grand Gennaro, ed. Steven J. Belluscio (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University
Press, 2009 [1935]) (at Bobst: New York: Arno P, 1975)
* Giovannitti, Arturo, The Collected Poems of Arturo Giovannitti (Chicago: Clemente, 1962; and New York:
Arno P, 1975)
* Haller, Hermann, Tra Napoli e New York. Le macchiette italo-americane di Eduardo Migliaccio (Rome:
Bulzoni, 2006)
* Orton, Marie – Parati Graziella (eds.), Multicultural Literature in Contemporary Italy (Madison-Teaneck:
Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2008)
Comberiati, Daniele, Scrivere nella lingua dell’altro. La letteratura degli immigrati in Italia (1989-2007)
(Bruxelles: Peter Lang, 2010)
Bibliography and Further Readings [ * = available at Bobst Library]
* Aleandri, Emelise, The Italian-American Immigrant Theatre of New York City (Charleston, SC: Arcadia,
Audenino, Patrizia – Tirabassi, Maddalena, Migrazioni italiane. Storia e storie dall’”ancien régime” a oggi
(Milan: Bruno Mondadori, 2008)
* Belluscio, Steven J., Introduction to Garibaldi Lapolla, The Fire in the Flesh [1931] (New York:
Bordighera P, 2012)
Bencivenni, Marcella, Italian Immigrant Radical Culture. The Idealism of the Sovversivi in the United
States, 1890-1940 (NYU P 2011)
Bendinelli Predelli, Maria – Andreoni, Antonio, Piccone e poesia. La cultura dell’ottava nel poema
d’emigrazione di un contadino lucchese (Lucca: S. Marco Litotipo, 1997)
Bertellini, Giorgio, Italy in Early American Cinema. Race, Landscape, and the Picturesque (Bloomington,
IN: Indiana UP, 2010)
Bonaffini, Luigi, “Arturo Giovannitti e l’establishment letterario americano,” in Norberto Lombardi (ed.), Il
bardo della libertà. Arturo Giovannitti (1884-1959) (Isernia: Iannone, 2011), 139-51
Casillo, Robert – Russo, John Paul, The Italian in Modernity (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011)
* Cautela, Giuseppe, “The Italian Theatre in New York,” The American Mercury, 12, 45, September 1927,
De Caldas Brito, Christiana, Qui e là (Isernia: Iannone, 2004)
––––, Amanda Olinda Azzurra e le altre (Oedipus: Salerno-Milano, 2004)
D’Acierno, Pellegrino (ed.), The Italian American Experience. A Companion to Literature and Arts (New
York-London: Garland, 1999)
De Rosalia, Giovanni (a.k.a. Nofrio), Nofrio record. Music CD. Palazzolo’s Italian Records, 2006
Diomede, Matthew, Pietro Di Donato, the Master Builder (Lewisburg – London: Bucknell University Press
– Associated University Presses, 1995)
Dones, Elvira, Sole bruciato (Milan: Feltrinelli, 2001)
* Durante, Francesco, Storia e letteratura degli italiani negli Stati Uniti. La scena di Little Italy (Napoli:
Pironti, 2013)
Fante, John, Dago Red (New York: The Viking Press, 1940)
Fazio, Michele, “Vomit Your Poison. Violence, Hunger, and Symbolism in Pietro di Donato’s Christ in
Concrete,” Melus, 32, 2007, 115-37
Forgacs, David – Lumley, Robert (eds.), Italian Cultural Studies. An Introduction (New York: Oxford UP,
Franzina, Emilio, Gli italiani al nuovo mondo. L’emigrazione italiana in America 1492-1942 (Milan:
Mondadori, 1995)
Frasca, Simona, Birds of passage. I musicisti napoletani a New York (1895-1940) (Lucca: Libreria Musicale
Italiana, 2010)
Furey, Hester L., “The Reception of Arturo Giovannitti’s Poetry and the Trial of a New Society,” Left
History, 2, Spring 1994, 27-50
* Gadda, Carlo Emilio, That Awful Mess on via Merulana [1957] (New York: Braziller, 1984)
Gazzoni, Andrea (ed.), Poesia dell’esilio. Saggi su Gëzim Hajdari (Isernia: Iannone, 2010)
Giunta, Edvige and Zamboni McCormick, Kathleen (eds.), Teaching Italian American Literature, Film, and
Popular Culture (New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2010)
Guglielmo, Jennifer – Salerno, Salvatore (eds.), Are Italians White? How Race is Made in America
(Routledge: London-New York, 2003)
Hajdari, Gëzim, Poesie scelte (1990-2007) (Nardò: Controluce, 2008)
––––, Poema dell’esilio (Santarcangelo di Romagna: Fara 2007)
––––, Muzungu. Diario in nero (Nardò: Besa, 2006)
* Harrington, Joseph, Poetry and the Public. The Social Form of Modern U.S. Poetics (Middletown, CT:
Wesleyan UP, 2002)
* Komla-Ebri, Kossi, Neyla [Engl.] (Madison-Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2004)
––––, Imbarazzismi. Quotidiani imbarazzi in bianco e nero (Milan: Edizioni dell’arco, 2002)
* Kvidera, Peter, “Ethnic Identity and Cultural Catholicism in Pietro di Donato’s Christ in Concrete,” Melus,
35, 2010, 157-81
Lakhous, Amara, Divorce Islamic Style (New York: Europa, 2012)
* Lombardi-Diop, Cristina – Romeo, Caterina (eds.), Postcolonial Italy. Challenging National Homogeneity
(New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012)
* Marazzi, Martino, King of Harlem: Garibaldi Lapolla and Gennaro Accuci “il Grande”, in Aldo Bove and
Giuseppe Massara (eds.),’Merica. A Conference on the Culture and Literature of Italians in North America
(Stony Brook, N.Y.: Forum Italicum Publishing, 2006): 190-210
–––, “’Our brother Dante’. Dantesque Reappropriations in Italian America,” in Dennis Looney – Donatella
Stocchi-Perucchio (eds.), Dante politico. Ideological Reception across Boundaries, forthcoming as special
issue of Mediaevalia, 2014
Mujčić, Elvira, La lingua di Ana (Castelgandolfo: Infinito, 2012)
Parati, Graziella, Migration Italy. The Art of Talking Back in a Destination Culture (Toronto-Buffalo:
University of Toronto Press, 2005)
* Parati, Graziella – Tamburri, Anthony (eds), The Cultures of Italian Migration. Diverse Trajectories and
Discrete Perspectives (Madison-Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2011)
* Pretelli, Matteo, L’emigrazione italiana negli Stati Uniti (Bologna: il Mulino, 2011)
Seabrook, William, These Foreigners (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1938)
* Vecoli, Rudolph J., The Italian Diaspora, 1876-1976, in Robin Cohen (ed.), The Cambridge Survey of
World Migration (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995 and 2010): 114-22
* –––, The Italian Immigrant Press and the Construction of Social Reality, 1850-1920, in J. Danky and W.
Wiegand (eds.), Print Culture in a Diverse America (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois P, 1998): 17-33
* Ventura, Luigi Donato, Peppino il lustrascarpe, trilingual edition edited by Martino Marazzi (Milano:
Franco Angeli, 2007)
* Viscusi, Robert, Buried Caesars, and Others Secrets of Italian American Writing (Albany, NY: State
University of New York Press, 2006)
* Washington, Booker T., The Man Farthest Down. A Record of Observation and Study in Europe, 1912 and
* Zincone, Giovanna, “The Making of Policies. Immigration and Immigrants in Italy,” Journal of Ethnic and
Migrations Studies, 3, 2006, 347-75
Useful websites