This book focuses on the development of Italian American cultural identity throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Italy is becoming a destination, rather than a starting point for immigrants. Immigration remains a source of tension and debate both in the United States and in Europe. Analyzing the evolution of Italian American identity, from diaspora to globalization, from emblematic to latent ethnicity, can thus prove insightful.
Disparate works, including novels, films and newspaper articles, both by Italian and non-Italian American authors illustrate this paradigm. The catalyst for this transformation is the Second World War, which allowed Italian Americans to take part in the struggle to liberate Italy from Fascism, establishing in this way a connection with their roots while adhering more closely to mainstream American society through participation in the conflict. Post-war expressions of Italian American culture include the development of women’s writing, cinematic interactions with American Jews and African Americans, and the works of two novelists, Don DeLillo and Anthony Giardina, who embody different aspects of latent ethnicity.
I would like to express my gratitude to the following people who offered support and guidance for this project.
The present work would not have seen the light of day without the assistance of Professor Paul Giles, who first helped me with its development in Oxford.
I would also like to thank Professor John Paul Russo for his advice on the section on fascism and Italian Americans; this was also the basis for my article in Italian Americana (de Lucia, 2008), which was awarded the prize for the best historical article of 2008.
My thanks also go to the Italian Association of American Studies and in particular to Professor Stefano Luconi, who has offered academic insights and friendship throughout the years.
The members of the Polish Association of American Studies, and in particular Professor Dominika Ferens and Dr Ewa Antoczek, gave me stimulating suggestions and warm hospitality as the biennial conferences have been an opportunity to explore at length various aspects of research on the United States and different places in Poland.
Professor Agnieszka Soltysik and Professor John Blair first opened my eyes to the universe of American studies.
Professor Benedetto Bongiorno of the University of Palermo provided precious information on Sicilian dialects.
Professor Holli Schauber of the University of Geneva allowed me truly to understand the Italian American educator Leonardo Covello’s idea that “the heart is the teacher”.
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