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340 - THE ITALIAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE II

Course Description:

This second part of the course on the Italian American Experience concentrates on the historical period spanning from post-WWII to today, with major emphasis on literary production and narratological scholarship. We begin by exploring the post-WWII years, when the Italians began to achieve a total assimilation in the main stream American society. However, this was also a period when Italian enclaves started to dissolve because of economical improvement and/or social advancement. Little Italies started to get transformed from long-term residence to temporary visiting places. This experience was captured by important writers such as Joseph Papaleo. The second moment of this course focusses on the 60’s. We will consider the Italian contribution to the Civil Rights movement, with figures like Mario Savio and poets of Italian descents such as Gregory Corso and his major involvement in the New York City artistic life alongside with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a leading poet of beat generation. Finally, we will examine women’s contribution to the articulation of the Italian American experience within an historical theoretical perspective. We will read Umbertina by Helen Barolini and The fortunate Pilgrim by Mario Puzo alongside with several short stories by Italian American women writers.

Learning Goals:

At the end of the course, students will be able to recognize how this cultural production reflected a set of values and experiences that transformed the Italians from a marginalized ethnic group to a main producer of American culture. Students will learn to identify the relations of this production to Italy and the Italian culture. Students are encouraged to critically relate their own experience to the topics of class discussion generated by materials presented and analyzed in class. This approach will increase the students’ awareness of their own cultural and existential legacy.

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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