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339 - THE ITALIAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE I

Course Description:

This course -- taught in English -- concentrates on the Italian immigration in the Americas (North and South) from 1861 to the 1940s and explores the historical conditions that led to this massive phenomenon as well as its consequences. We will address questions such as: what factors motivated the wave of emigration from Italy in the late 19th century? What were the major social, political, and economic challenges that the immigrants encountered upon arrival? How did immigrants represent their own experiences and what is the role of gender and class in these forms of representations (music, literature, arts, and politics)?

Major emphasis will be placed upon the Italian literary production in New York among expatriates and second generation Italian Americans, particularly during the so-called New York modernism (middle 1930s). We will explore the ways in which immigrants became more and more politicized when they came in contact with Labor unions or political parties; the role of the Catholic Church in fostering Italian integration in the US, and the social relationships with other immigrants communities (e.g., the Irish).

We will analyze the ways in which the Italian community in NY was portrayed in the media and the source of the strong bias towards new immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe.

Readings include articles by Simmel, Sombart, Bailey, Orsi; literary works by Garibaldi, Lapolla, Di Donato, Arturo Giovannitti.

Learning Goals:

At the end of the course student will be able to locate human actions in a historical and social context and to examine critically different theoretical issues concerning the nature of human experience. They will also be able to understand the relation of literature and other forms of representations to specific histories, cultures, and languages. Students will have learnt to express complex ideas concerning the historical nature of cultural production in standard written English and to communicate effectively in modes that are appropriate to the discipline.

Departmental Goals II and III: Cultural Proficiency and Professional Preparation.

Required Texts:

Course packet and materials distributed in class

Grade distribution:

Class quizzes (3 class quizzes): 30% (10% each)

Midterm exam: 25%

Class attendance, participation and presentation: 20%

Final Exam: 25%

Contact Us

Department of Italian
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
15 Seminary Place, #5105
New Brunswick, NJ 08901


Voice (848) 932-7031
Fax (732) 932-1686

Sheri La Macchia, Administrator

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