- iii Italian Contributions
This year has witnessed a rich production of fine special journal issues and essay collections that cover a wide range of themes, subjects, and approaches. They also reflect the internationalization of American Studies and the complex networks of interactions among scholars. In recognition of this ongoing and fruitful dialogue, I will often refer to the numerous essays by international scholars that have appeared in Italian publications. Both the volumes and the individual essays that will be discussed also highlight the continued and increasing engagement of Americanists in Italy with a variety of critical methodologies (e.g., ethnic studies, women's studies, and cultural studies) and the strong emphasis on interdisciplinarity. African American and ethnic American literatures continue to attract the attention of Italian scholars, while the interest in Italian American literature and culture, as well as on the relationship between American writers and Italy, also remains pronounced.
a. American Studies Journals and Special Journal Issues
RSA, the journal of the Italian Association for North American Studies, has published a special issue titled Poetry and History (14 ), ed. Massimo Bacigalupo. In his opening essay, "History and the American Poet" (pp. 3–16), Bacigalupo points to the central theme of the volume by highlighting how "the Modernists agreed with the Romantics that poetry is a kind of essential history." Inspired also by two conferences on poetry that took place this year in Rapallo (Italy) and Oxford (U.K.), he focuses on Pound's and Stevens's poetic responses to World War II. Modernist poetry is the subject of most of the essays in this special issue, with the exception of " 'Gone to Kansas': A Reading of Dickinson's L182" (pp. 17–35), in which Patricia Thompson-Rizzo analyzes one of Dickinson's letters in its entirety, examining her use of gothicism and her critique of expansionism. Stefano M. Casella (" 'Empty Silences': T. S. Eliot and Eugenio Montale," pp. 67–91) proposes a comparative analysis of Eliot's "Silence" and Montale's "Forse un mattino andando in un'aria di vetro." Contextualizing his own approach through a survey of the critical reception of these poems, Casella examines Eliot's [End Page 494] and Montale's attraction to "spiritual and quasi-mystical experience." In her analysis of Moore's "New York" and "Virginia Britannia," Paola A. Nardi ("Taking the Potomac Cowbirdlike: History Through Space in Marianne Moore," pp. 93–119) discusses the poet's "spatialization of history" and the aesthetics and politics of her critical engagement with the American past of slavery and colonization. Privileging the relationship between technology and writing in "Still Life with a Machine: E. E. Cummings's Typewriter Poems" (pp. 120–38), Salvatore Marano analyzes Cummings's poetry and poetics in light of the "exhilarating effect produced by the mechanical spacing of the typewriter on the poet's compositional habits." He explores in detail the tensions between Cummings's iconoclasm and "arch-Romanticism," illuminating the differences between his relationship with tradition and that of other modernist authors like Pound and Williams. Starting with African American modernist poets of the Harlem Renaissance, Antonella Francini ("Sonnet vs. Sonnet: The Fourteen Lines in African-American Poetry," pp. 37–66) analyzes 20th-century black writers who have chosen the sonnet form. Attentive to "the tension between metrical norm and the subject's voice," Francini proposes a nuanced reading of the different kinds of formal experimentation and thematic concerns that characterize the sonnets of poets such as Claude McKay, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, Rita Dove, and Yusef Komunyakaa. Moving forward in time, Gregory Dowling ("Living Outside the Blast: Andrew Hudgings's After the Lost War," pp. 139–57) analyzes Hudgings's narrative poem and its relation to the American tradition of historical narrative verse in the 19th and 20th centuries, noticing also how the author, though associated with the new Formalist movement, "never rejected the Modernist heritage." The volume closes with a section titled "Notes and Debates" that includes an essay by Pia Masiero Marcolin, to be discussed later, and Ferdinando Fasce's "Politics as Commodity from Eisenhower to Bush Jr.: Half a Century of Commercial Communication and Election Campaigns in the United States" (pp. 163–79). Fasce...