Italian Writers in the US
Italian Writers in the USA

Colonial Writing: Italian Writers in the United States: 1890 al 1940

We can readily consider "colonial" writers those immigrants who were born and, to a certain degree, educated in Italy. At a certain age, around the turn of the twentieth century and soon thereafter, they emigrated to the United States, settled into the local Italian community, and composed their creative works and essays—critical and journalistic—in Italian. In so doing, they published for the most part in the local dailies, weeklies, and other magazines and reviews that were regularly published in Italian.

Precisely because of their education in Italy, they were able to keep themselves abreast of the events in Italy, to further inform themselves of the events within the United States, and thus to discuss them, in writing, in Italian. Much of what they discussed was related to their local experience within the Italian community—sometimes working-class, sometimes more upper-class. While these writers were informed by Italian culture, and while they continued to work within an Italian milieu—both linguistically and, often, thematically—the Italian intellectual establishment in Italy failed to recognize their work as part of an Italian tradition.

The Italians “living” in or “visiting” the States, such as E. Cecchi, G. Prezzolini, and M. Soldati, often looked upon these Italian writers in the United States as entirely different from writers in Italy. The obvious result was that they were never truly studied seriously as a possible part of the Italian tradition or, perhaps, as a tradition of their own in Italian, something today we might readily label Italophone.

This course will take a close look at some of the more active writers of this fifty-year period, examining their work from a variety of perspectives: (a) voices of a new “American” group in the United States; (2) a continuity of an “Italian” cultural discourse carried across the ocean; and (3) a development of a socio-political discourse and its occasional relationship to Italy. Time permitting, it will also consider some of the more contemporary writers who live in the United States and write in Italian.

Required Text: Italoamericana, vol. II, a cura di Francesco Durante (Mondadori 2005)

Selected writings from essays by E. Cecchi, G. Prezzolini, M. Soldati;
Selected writings from Mal d’America, a cura di Ugo Rubeo (Edizioni Riuniti 1987).
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ITAL 6619

All Sections in Summer 2020 Language Schools, Bennington 6 Week Session