The Italian American Experience: An Encyclopedia

The Italian American Experience: An Encyclopedia

The Italian American Experience: An Encyclopedia

The Italian American Experience: An Encyclopedia

Synopsis

The millions of Italians who have migrated to the United States over the last two centuries have played a crucial -- and at times little recognized -- role in the history of their adopted country. This encyclopedia, the first book of its kind, presents the totality of the Italian American experience. The coverage includes such broad topics as the influence of Italian Americans on politics and society and their contributions to art and to the development of Catholicism in the United States.

Excerpt

The Italian American Experience: An Encyclopedia represents the first attempt to provide a truly comprehensive encyclopedic account of the Italian experience in the United States. Over five years in the making, the more than four hundred entries contain much more than the standard set of biographies; the volume includes substantial analyses of topics relating to the arts, history, religion, Italian organizations and groups, archival depositories, and other resource material, literature, pop culture, social science/politics, sports, wartime military and home front activities, and science and technology. Each area is treated both in general, thematic essays and pieces devoted to specific aspects of a subject. Entries include suggested bibliographic references for further study.

One hundred sixty-six scholars contributed their expertise to the project, many of them members—as are the four main editors—of the American Italian Historical Association (AIHA), the only professional organization devoted solely to studying objectively the Italian American experience. These connections and the general familiarity with the key scholars in the field served the editors well in assembling an outstanding and active advisory board, in soliciting many useful and exciting suggestions, and in recruiting the leading writers in Italian American scholarship.

The major purpose in any encyclopedia is to amass knowledge and information, and this is precisely what the editors have endeavored to do. However, it is also true that all scholarship comes from a distinctive point of view. It is important to point out that the interpretive versions that may be apparent in some essays are the sole responsibility of authors. The policy of the editors in this respect was quite ecumenical; readers will find in this volume intellectual work that is based on quite divergent philosophical perspectives, thereby reflecting prevailing diversity in the field of Italian American studies.

It is not customary for projects of this scope to emanate, even in part, from the community college sector. It is therefore especially important to thank the administration of Nassau Community College—and especially its president, Dr. Sean A. Fanelli—for the support and encouragement provided. It stands as a validation of the college’s commitment to an intellectually rigorous and honest understanding of multicultural education. Among the indispensable assistance afforded the editors was the service of Patricia Forte, a tireless and competent administrative aide. Mention should be made of the hospitality, and courtesies extended, by the Nassau Community College Department of History, the Library Department, and the Computer Laboratory.

As a final note, the editors want to make the obvious admission that The Italian American Experience: An Encyclopedia is, as is all scholarship, a provisional piece of work. On the one hand, we are proud of the accomplishment that the completed work represents. We hope it contributes to the cause of scholarship in Italian Americana and serves to promote a realistic awareness of the Italian contribution to American civilization. On the other hand, we know that no work is perfect. We both expect and hope that future scholars can further perfect and build upon the information and insight contained within this work.

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