Explores changes in American attitudes toward Italy and Italians during a crucial period of U. S. immigration history.
Integrating history, literary criticism, and cultural studies, Imagining Italians vividly tells the story of two voyages across the Atlantic: America's cultural pilgrimage to Italy and the Italian "racial odyssey" in America. It examines how American representations of Italy, Italians, and Italian Americans engaged with national debates over immigration, race, and national identity during the period 1880–1910. Joseph P. Cosco offers a close analysis of selected works by immigrant journalists Jacob Riis and Edward Steiner and American iconographic writers Henry James and Mark Twain. Exploring their Italian depictions in journalism, photos, travel narratives, and fiction, he rediscovers the forgotten Edward Steiner and offers fresh readings of Riis's reform efforts and photography, James's The Golden Bowl and The American Scene, and Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson.
Joseph P. Cosco is Assistant Professor of English at Old Dominion University.