Anthony Julian Tamburri. Re-Reading Italian Americana: Specificities and Generalities on Literature and Criticism

By Renzo, Anthony Di | Italica, Spring 2015 | Go to article overview

Anthony Julian Tamburri. Re-Reading Italian Americana: Specificities and Generalities on Literature and Criticism


Renzo, Anthony Di, Italica


Anthony Julian Tamburri. Re-reading Italian Americana: Specificities and Generalities on Literature and Criticism. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2014.

This landmark collection of critical essays is a mariner's log of Italian American Studies. Anthony Julian Tamburri, Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute and Distinguished Professor of European Languages and Literatures (Queens College, CUNY), notes past currents, sounds present depths, and charts future courses in a tempestuous ocean. This transatlantic voyage is both exhilarating and unsettling. To make the field more seaworthy and to improve cultural dialogue within the Italian American community, Tamburri asks readers to jettison "blind ideologies" and "misinformed histories," not to mention willful ignorance and raging egotism (x). Only then will we become true explorers and chroniclers of a complicated and often troubling heritage.

Written in a trenchant, conversational style, Re-reading Italian Americana addresses writers and scholars but also engages general readers. Like a triptych, its three sections hinge on each other to form a striking panorama. Part One analyzes our field's current state of affairs and reviews the ways in which Italian American authors "have been ignored or, when noticed, misunderstood, mostly due to age-old stereotypes" rooted in both nineteenth-century Anglo-American culture and nineteenth-century Northern Italian culture (x). Part Two, the book's longest section, skillfully examines the work of six Italian American authors: three prose writers (Pietro di Donato, Mario Puzo, and Luigi Barzini), and three poets (Joseph Tusiani, Rina Ferrarelli, and Maria Mazziotti Gillan). Part Three summarizes and evaluates scholarship in Italian American studies to date and proposes a new cultural studies model for our discipline.

Tamburri, author of the classic A Semiotic of Ethnicity: In (Recognition of the Italian/ American Writer (SUNY Press 1998), is an astute and original critic. Me makes a strong case for including Luigi Barzini's cosmopolitan memoir O America, When You and I Were Young (1977) in the Italian American canon. Equally impressive, he highlights the concerns about class and ethnicity in Rina Ferrarelli and Maria Mazziotti Gillan, whose poetry too often is considered merely confessional and lyrical. He also demonstrates their thematic relationship with Joseph Tusiani, a more formal, bilingual poet from an earlier generation, who overtly and directly wrestled with the problems of immigration and assimilation. These aesthetic judgments of specific writers, however, are always framed within a general inquiry into history and politics.

"There is no ontology without archeology!" declared poet and educator Felix Stefanile. Re-reading Italian Americana dares to ask the large questions: Why did our forbearers leave Italy during the Great Diaspora? How have recent scholarship and archival materials changed our understanding of the social, political, and economic causes behind this traumatic migration? What debt, if any, does contemporary Italy owe these immigrants and their descendants? What has Italy done over the past one hundred years to improve the conditions that led to the mass exodus at the end of the nineteenth century? How might confronting these issues initiate a transatlantic dialogue between Italian and Italian American writers and scholars and help both Italy and the United States better understand the new immigrants of the twenty-first century?

Two pillars support Tamburri's overarching analysis of Italian American literature. The first is language, "the sine qua non without which one cannot access and therefore know the culture whence one came" (121). Indeed, the controversies surrounding language and literacy are crucial to understanding Italian identify on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly for those with roots in the Mezzogiorno. Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed, the book that created modern Italian, is an epic of literacy and a debate about the material forces that shape language and culture. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Anthony Julian Tamburri. Re-Reading Italian Americana: Specificities and Generalities on Literature and Criticism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.