Cover

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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xvi

I have the duty and the great honor to thank the many colleagues, friends, family members, students, and institutions that helped me to research and write this book. First and foremost, I want to thank Frank Lentricchia and Fred Gardaphé, who provided advice and mentorship for years and supported...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-19

I am going to start with a personal story that frames the larger one that I tell in this book. One morning in the late spring of 2000 I was doing research for my doctoral dissertation at the central branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library in downtown Buffalo, New York. Two African...

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1. New World, Old Woman: Or, Modernity Upside Down

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pp. 20-51

The encounter between Italian Americans and African Americans is an unacknowledged story of modernity, whose twentieth-century development it helped to define. A comparative mapping and assessment of how these people’s literary and popular cultures painted this encounter and the relationships...

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2. Rochester, Sicily: The Political Economy of Italian American Life and the Encounter with Blackness

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pp. 52-78

No single book charts the political economy of the early stage of the Italian American experience better and more comprehensively than Jerre Mangione’s 1942 Mount Allegro. His “Memoir of Italian American Life,” as the subtitle of the last authorized reprint of the book reads, depicts the grid...

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3. Structures of Invisible Blackness: Racial Difference, (Homo)Sexuality, and Italian American Identity in African American Literature during Jim Crow

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pp. 79-128

In 1912 Booker T. Washington was not the only African American writer to invest in Italian Americans in order to make an argument about race and modernity in America. That same year, James Weldon Johnson published The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, arguably the founding...

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4. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Gun: Modernity as the Gangster

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pp. 129-169

Few tropes, if any, succeed in unveiling the interplay of the development and the trajectory of modern capitalism and the hegemonic place of whiteness in our culture as the Italian American gangster does. This synchronic unfolding made the gangster trope coterminous with our culture...

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5. In the Name of the Mother: The Other Italian American Modernity

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pp. 170-217

A woman named Maria towers over and distinguishes the Italian American novel. She appears in a central role since the early stage of the Italian American novelistic tradition and continues to do so in the present time. From John Fante’s Wait until Spring, Bandini to Carol Maso’s Ghost Dance...

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6. The Dago and the Darky: Staging Subversion

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pp. 218-240

Nowhere else does the relationship among Italian Americans, African Americans, and modernity become as clear and tricky, and therefore as enlightening, as on the stage of popular music, to which we turn by looking at two partnerships that epitomize such relationship: Frank Sinatra and Sammy...

Notes

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pp. 241-242

Bibliography

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pp. 243-254

Index

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pp. 255-264