By the Breath of Their Mouths
Narratives of Resistance in Italian America
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: State University of New York Press
In the mid-1980s when I began my foray into the literature of Italian America, it felt like walking into the barren spaces of the great Northwest, despite the fact that most of the narratives were urban-centered, cluttered, and noisy. Yet, as Gretel Ehrlich has so eloquently written of the solace of open spaces, I felt a peaceful coming-home among works that were largely unknown in the literary academy...
U.S. writers of Italian America give the lie to the idea represented by the code of omert
1: Justice/Giustizia Private Justice and the Folkloric Community in the World of Italian Americans
In marked contrast to mainstream conceptions of justice, Italian American writers have conceptualized justice in their works through a folkloric view of the world, which includes storytelling, ritualized gatherings, and proverbial beliefs. Institutions of business, official forms of Catholicism, the legal system represented by the police force, and the public school are modified in distinct ways by the cultural behaviors enacted in Italian American families...
2: Faith/Fede Plenty to Confess Women and (Italian) American Catholicism
Capitalizing only two words in her entire poem, “Italian” and “St. Anthony,” Elaine Romaine semantically diminishes the power of Irish domination and the conventional ritual of the Catholic sacrament of communion in her poem “you were always irish, god.” Romaine’s description of the annual festa also illustrates its association with patriarchy as only male figures (most likely Italian)...
3: Story/Racconto Una chiacchierata nel passato Rosa and Marie of Rosa: The Life of an Italian Immigrant
A long time ago, two womenmet and talked for thirteen years. From 1918 to 1931, a middle-aged Italian woman named Rosa Cassettari shared stories with a young widow named Marie Hall Ets. A cleaning lady for over forty years at the Chicago Commons Settlement House, Rosa’s status as a custodian did not prevent her from pursuing her art of storytelling...
4: Land/Terra Village People in Guido D’Agostino’s Novels with Joanne Ruvoli
Guido D’Agostino believes in the land. The four novels he published within a twelve-year period (1940–1952) reflect an agrarian idealism nurtured in homeland Italy but sewn in new-world America. D’Agostino seems to be implicitly remarking on the U.S. industrial marketplace that hired and exploited immigrant Italians,who lived in cities...
5: History Singer/Cantastorie Vernacular Voices in Paule Marshall’s and Tina De Rosa’s Kunstlerromane
For writers who locate their characters in urban enclaves, guaranteeing them long-term security is undercut by rapid changes in the marketplace and themobility that allows some to move away from old neighborhoods. Urban working-class families, subject to assimilative desires, sometimes managed to purchase a home, further testimonial to American-borne values of acquisition and individualism...
6: Precursor/Precursore Mother’s Tongue Italian American Daughters and Female Precursors
While Italian American male and female authors share many of the same cultural and literary concerns, including their incorporation of oral, folk, and family traditions within literary writing that reveals hard-core skepticism toward institutional authorities and reverence toward nontraditional forms of worship, a gulf often separates them in their responses to genealogical and literary precursors...
7: Death/Morte What They Talk About When They Talk About Death
That Italian Americans die in literature is as important as how they die. Authors of Italian America are likely to agree with Maurice Blanchot, who says that when we speak, we “are leaning on a tomb” (55). Italian American writers frequently portray experiences of death, inconsolable grief, and accompanying mourning rituals, especially in the early part of the twentieth century...
8: Revival/Risorgimento Stories Continue Shaping U.S. Italian American Writing
REVIVAL, ITALIAN AMERICAN STYLE From the voices of justice to the voices of mortality, Italian Americans have adapted folk materials from their ancestors’ paesi to create artful narratives that resist oppressions of silence, overlaying them with individual and communal uses of voice...
Page Count: 314
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: SUNY series in Italian/American Culture
Series Editor Byline: Fred L. Gardaphe See more Books in this Series
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