Through the Periscope
Changing Culture, Italian America
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Offers a wider approach to Italian American culture, one that stresses both its material, urban components and the creativity of its formal literary codes.
The constant dialogue between literary forms of the Old and the New World is the core concern of the essays in Through the Periscope, which examine these ever-changing historical, intellectual, and psychological landscapes through the lens of Italian American culture. Moving beyond Little Italy, the book widens the spectrum of "pure" immigrant studies. It analyzes the longue durée of the revolutionary energies of 1848, an arc that leads from Margaret Fuller to Bob Dylan via the Great Migration of European peoples and languages, as well as the merging of various immigrant voices in the "changing culture" of turn-of-the-century New York. It reclaims the importance of Dante for Italian American writers and follows the metamorphosis of a Romance language dense in masterworks and oral nuances through the multiple signs of a new "illiterature." Points of arrival are both the majestic proletarian novels of the 1930s and a contemporary poem like Robert Viscusi's Ellis Island. Martino Marazzi's volume underlines the richness of such an epic cultural transformation and its fundamental importance for a more thorough understanding of Euro-American relations.
Martino Marazzi is Associate Professor of Italian Literature at the University of Milan in Italy. His many books include Voices of Italian America: A History of Early Italian American Literature with a Critical Anthology.
"In his whirlwind tour through New York settings and remembered Italian landscapes, through Dantean poetic appropriations and dime novels by a 'Homer of Little Italy,' Marazzi joins the company of such scholars as Thomas Ferraro, Fred Gardaphé, and Samuele Pardini in giving new meaning to the internal diversity of the cultural lives of Italian migrants and their descendants and making the notion of an 'Italian American canon' questionable." — Werner Sollors, author of Challenges of Diversity: Essays on America
"More than just issuing a provocative challenge to the Italian American literary canon (though it certainly does that), Marazzi's book proposes an innovative way of looking at Italian migrant subjectivity and consciousness through a bidirectional transnational lens. It represents a groundbreaking effort to reimagine the fields of Italian and Italian American studies, and in a way that enables those fields to more forcefully influence the larger ambit of American studies, trans-Atlantic literary studies, and diaspora studies." — John Gennari, author of Flavor and Soul: Italian America at Its African American Edge