In the second part of the class we focused on how the Italian American identity has been represented from the perspective of the second generations between the 1930s (Di Donato’s “Christ in Concrete”) and the 1940s and 50s (Madalena’s “Confetti for Gino”).
Prompt: Write an analytical and argumentative essay on Lorenzo Madalena’s fictional representation of the ethnic experience in “Confetti fro Gino.” How does Madalena’s writing respond to the background of the postwar period and how this was reshaping Italian ethnicity in America? What is the author’s message about diversity and ethnic identity? What strategies does Madalena use to convey this message in his writing?
Develop a coherent argument based on a central thesis, and support your ideas with enough close reading and evidence from the novel. You are encouraged to strengthen your argument by making reference to one or more of the following secondary sources and reflecting how the source(s) you chose might help illuminate one aspect of the novel that relates to your central thesis:
– Italian American scholar Richard Gambino’s chapter on “the family system,” what it entailed and how it affected different generations of Italians in America. How does the family system affect the sons and daughters of the Italian fisherman San Diego in Confetti (Peter, Bruno, Costanza, Teresa, etc.)? How does it shape their destiny as we learn through various characters in Confetti?
– Sociologist Richard Alba’s chapter on the “twilight of ethnicity,” the various social and cultural factors that slowed the Italians’ Americanization at first and, then, the factors that encouraged it after WWII. What leads Gino to question the old ways of peasant traditions reinforced by the first generations? Does he altogether reject ethnicity to choose assimilation into white Anglo-Saxon America and, thus, a “twilight of ethnicity”?
– Food historian Simone Cinotto’s argument on the symbolic significance of food across different generations of Italian Americans and how it might be applied also the meaning of festivities. What is the symbolic role of food, cultural rituals and festivities in Confetti? How does the first generation use these traditions? How and why does the narration use irony when describing certain rituals or how some of the characters view and conduct them?
– Literary and Cultural Studies scholars Scholar Kenneth Scambray’s and/or Pasquale Verdicchio’s argument on Confetti: How does Gino, and his sister Anna before him, renegotiate tradition to incorporate the new and develop a multi-layered identity? What is the symbolic meaning of the celebration and of Gino’s indecision in the novel’s conclusion?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_system