Becoming Italian-American

Jan 17, 2014 1708

Documents and Artistic Experiences of Early Italian Immigration

Call for Essays

The first major wave of immigration from Italy to North America occurred between the second half of the nineteenth century and the First World War. While this phenomenon has been the object of numerous historical, sociological and anthropological studies, it still remains relatively unexplored in its linguistic and literary aspects as well as in terms of its artistic and cinematic representations. At a time when the Italian motherland was struggling to construct its united history, millions of its citizens – what Pascoli described as a "wandering," "labouring" and "rejected" Italy – experienced both the alienation of non-belonging and, at the same time, the need to recover their identity.

The construction – conscious or otherwise – of the Italian-American condition was vehicled most especially through the use of language: familial writings such as letters and diaries, texts produced for the immigrant community such as local newspapers, or creative works such as novels written and published in the countries of immigration. Aside from a handful of laudable and timely studies, this copious production still needs to be examined with appropriate critical instruments.

Furthermore, this literary-linguistic repertory can be also related to the artistic representation of early Italian immigration, a distorting and historically unfaithful mirror, perhaps, but also an important element to understand and evaluate the cultural mosaic of early "Italian-Americanness."

The purpose of the projected volume, edited by Franco Pierno, Luca Somigli and Alberto Zambenedetti (Italian Studies, University of Toronto), is to bring together studies of these aspects of Italian migration, following two main perspectives, one chronological (from the middle of the nineteenth to first twenty years of the twentieth century) and the other geographical (the area including the United States and Canada).

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

– The use of Italian and of dialects among Italian-Americans, according to available documents;

– Italian-American literature: authors, themes, styles, models;

– Coeval literary and film representations of Italian migration between the first half of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.

– Artistic representations of Italians in North America, from visual arts to early media, including painting, sculpture, photography, and cinema.

200-word proposals should be sent by 15 March 2014 to the three editors at the following emails:

The language of essays will be English. Submissions are refereed in a double-blind review process by international specialists and must therefore not contain any self-references or other indications of authorship. Papers must not be published or submitted elsewhere. Manuscripts should normally not exceed 7,000 words, including notes and bibliography, and should be formatted according to MLA style (with footnotes and final bibliography). Please include both email and postal addresses.

Notification of acceptance will be communicated by 15 April 2014.

Final drafts of the essays should be sent to the three editors by 15 September 2014.

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