Feeling Italian: the Art of Ethnicity in America

Book

Feeling Italian: the Art of Ethnicity in America (NYU, December ’04?) explores the Italian Catholic aesthetic seduction of the United States– from the once-infamous trials of murderess Maria Barbella and the eerily prescient city paintings of Joseph Stella to latter- day icons including Sinatra, Madonna, and the Corleones– yielding thereby not the wearily familiar tale of racial assimilation, How the Guineas Got White, but a revelatory counter-drama of ongoing ethnic enculturation, How America Gets (To Feel) Italian. The book consists of ten interlocking dramatic vignettes–each of which is tightly focused, historically contextualized, and designed as an analytic (re)enactment on one or another cutting edge of Cultural Studies (crime and captivity, modern industrial visuality, vocalized masculinity, diva performativity, the metaphysics of impersonation, the intercourse of food). Each chapter focuses on a major artist of Italian extraction or critical work of art with an Italianate articulation exemplifying "structures of feeling"–social intuition, sacred form, and aesthetic wisdom- -heretofore not-dreamt-of in our official philosophies. The overarching idea is to take the counsel of Bruce Springsteen’s mother, pursuing her insistence on both joy and seriousness, seeking accessibility without loss of intellectual trenchancy or edginess, paying witness to lived (even embodied) difference but in a way that speaks to us all, of whatever background, situation, or persuasion.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ferraro, TJ

Published Date

  • May 2005

Published By