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In the Name of the Mother
Italian Americans, African Americans, and Modernity from Booker T. Washington to Bruce Springsteen
Samuele F. S. Pardini

Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies

2017 • 280 pp. 10 illus. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
Literary Criticism - African American / African-American Studies / Immigration

$40.00 Paperback, 978-1-5126-0019-3
$95.00 Hardcover, 978-1-5126-0018-6

$34.99 Ebook, 978-1-5126-0020-9

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Hardcover is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

“An exceptional book.”
Voices in Italian Americana

A bracingly original dialogue on modernity, class, and difference in the 20th century

In the Name of the Mother examines the cultural relationship between African American intellectuals and Italian American writers and artists, and how it relates to American blackness in the twentieth century. Samuele Pardini links African American literature to the Mediterranean tradition of the Italian immigrants and examines both against the white intellectual discourse that defines modernism in the West. This previously unexamined encounter offers a hybrid, transnational model of modernity capable of producing democratic forms of aesthetics, social consciousness, and political economy. This volume emphasizes the racial “in-betweenness” of Italian Americans rearticulated as “invisible blackness,” a view that enlarges and complicates the color-based dimensions of American racial discourse. This strikingly original work will interest a wide spectrum of scholars in American Studies and the humanities.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“The volume offers examples for identity positions that provide a new view of modernity: a view that does not dovetail with the traditional view of modernity as the total sum of productivity, individuality, and consumption but rather presents a modernity where social inclusiveness and a shared sense of community are still possible. Moreover, the volume offers lucid and persuasive analyses of a wide array of material from diverse contexts and genres.”


“Tracing the transnational arc of the twentieth-century United States, [Pardini] argues that this comparative reading offers a “hybrid, transnational model of modernity” with democratic implications for aesthetics, political economy, and social consciousness.”
American Literature

“A new and timely reconceptualization of Italian American studies.”

Anglistica AION

“A landmark of cultural criticism, linking Italian-American and African-American cultures. The dialogue that it created between the two cultures is original and daring . . . his various readings are carried out with blunt force and with the skill of a narrative artist . . .  All who write on the subject henceforth will need to stand on his shoulders.”—Frank Lentricchia, Katherine Everett Gilbert Professor of Literature, Duke University, Elected Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

“After reading Pardini, you will never again look at the black/Italian interface interface as only a matter of ‘how the guineas got white’: here our first ex-colored men are the pezzonovanti of the Italian gangster classes; the great theoreticians of Italian race and sex are African-American literati at mid-century; and the true subversives of America’s still-brutal color line are those women of the shadows—the displaced Marias from the Italian South. Bruce and Clarence’s ‘soul kiss’ rocks!”—Thomas J. Ferraro, author of Feeling Italian: the Art of Ethnicity in America

“In the Name of the Mother liberates modernist preconceptions of home—coming and going. Mediterranean humanism, invisible blackness (of Italians), and an ethos of sharing are the structural frames for Pardini’s interracial probing of literature, film and music. A major achievement, a fluid, ceremonial alternative to cultural, political, and gender bifurcation. This book insists on the reciprocity of beauty—perceived, made, and embraced. Imagine—the working-class, uneducated mother centered as intellectual. Me and My Shadow, indeed!”—Janet Zandy, emerita professor, Rochester Institute of Technology


Winner of the Italian American Studies Association Book Award

SAMUELE F. S. PARDINI is an associate professor at Elon University.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:08:02 -0500