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Imagining Italians
The Clash of Romance and Race in American Perceptions, 1880-1910
Imagining Italians
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Joseph P. Cosco - Author
SUNY series in Italian/American Culture
Price: $68.50 
Hardcover - 243 pages
Release Date: August 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5761-3
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5761-0

Quantity:  
Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 243 pages
Release Date: August 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5762-1
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5762-7

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

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.

Imagining Italians’ linking of popular perceptions with a historical perspective should stimulate discussion in American literature classes.” — Journal of American Ethnic History

"Fascinating to read ... Cosco analyzes authors with a keen eye for detail and contradiction, without losing the main frame of his argument." — John Paul Russo, editor of Italian Americana

"I very much like the grouping of writers (journalists, novelists, and politicians) Cosco chose in order to highlight the intense debate over race in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century America. That Cosco places lesser-known immigrant writers with well-known novelists allows the thematic concerns about race and immigration to be reinforced. Moreover, Cosco's analysis of James and Twain also allows readers to see how abidingly influenced these men were by the issues of immigration and nativism. Without damning those writers for being influenced by the contemporary thought of their day, Cosco does a good job of illuminating their struggle to tell a compassionate story while holding on to Anglo-Saxon values." — Mary Jo Bona, author of Claiming a Tradition: Italian American Women Writers

Joseph P. Cosco is Assistant Professor of English at Old Dominion University.


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Magnificently Miserable Italians and Their Wretched, Princely Italy

1. Jacob Riis: Immigrants Old and New, and the Making of Americans

2. Edward Steiner: All Is (Not) Race?

3. Henry James's Picturesque Peasants: Heroes of Romance or Modern Men?

4. Henry James's "Flagrant Foreigners": Whose Country Is This Anyway?

5. Mark Twain: Racism, Nativism, and the Twinning of Italianness

Conclusion: The Fight for Whiteness

Notes

Bibliography

Index



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