Fall 2019  
Philip V. Cannistraro Seminar Series  
in Italian American Studies

Defining Italian American Identity in the United States through Opera during the Mass Migration Period 
Davide Ceriani, Rowan University 

This presentation focuses on the role Italian opera had in forming an Italian American cultural and ethnic identity during the mass migration period (1880-1924). Italians who immigrated to the United States adopted various methods to both elevate themselves in society and challenge the cultural hegemony around them; associating Little Italies with Italian opera proved to be a successful strategy to reach those goals because it was both an emblem of Italian culture and one of the most important forms of entertainment for Americans. Ceriani's interdisciplinary, multilingual research aims to fill a significant gap in the field of Italian American studies.
The Divo and the Duce: Promoting Film Stardom and Political Leadership in 1920s America
Giorgio Bertellini, University of Michigan   

In the post-World War I American climate of isolationism, nativism, consumerism, and the democratic expansion of civic rights, Italian-born star Rodolfo Valentino and Italy's dictator Benito Mussolini became surprising paragons of authoritarian male power and mass appeal. Drawing on extensive archival research in the United States and Italy, Giorgio Bertellini's The Divo and the Duce (University of California Press, 2019) shows how both men's popularity, political as well as erotic, depended largely on the efforts of public opinion managers, including publicists, journalists, and even ambassadors. Beyond the democratic celebrations of the Jazz Age, the promotion of their charismatic masculinity through spectacle and press coverage inaugurated the now-familiar convergence of popular celebrity and political authority.

All events are free, open to the public, and held at the Calandra Institute.

RSVP by calling (212) 642-2094.

John D. Calandra Italian American Institute  |  Queens College, CUNY 
25 West 43rd Street, 17th Floor, New York NY 10036 
212-642-2094   |  calandra@qc.edu   |  calandrainstitute.org

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