Graduate Research in Modern Italian Culture


Location: Hesburgh Library, Special Collections Room

Presenters include: * Sara Troyani, University of Notre Dame, “Making the Guidos: The Construction of Italian-American Identity in Jersey Shore” * Charles Leavitt, University of Notre Dame, “What Was Neorealism?”

"Making Guidos: The Construction of Italian-American Identity on Jersey Shore" explores the performance of "guido" and "guidette" subculture on _Jersey Shore_. Troyani argues that the MTV series deploys stereotypes of Italian-American identity in ways that challenge the possibility for a real—as opposed to constructed—Italian-American culture. Consequently, its representation of guidos and guidettes may be read productively to denaturalize essentialized notions of what it means to be Italian American. "What was Neorealism?" re-interprets neorealism through a holistic, critical analysis that contextualizes the movement within the debates that dominated post-war Italian cultural and political periodicals. Leavitt argues that neorealism represents the convergence of trends in modern European literature with the social and political demands of post-Fascist Italy. Neorealism radically revises the theoretical and ideological foundations of textual representation and fundamentally re-envisions the relationship between literature and society. Leavitt argues that neorealism consolidates the modernist cultural innovations of the first decades of the 20th century and sets the stage for the rise of experimentalism and the neo-avant-garde in the decades to come, serving as the fulcrum of the Italian 20th century. Sara Troyani holds a B.A. _summa cum laude_ in Spanish and Italian from Cornell University and a master’s in Italian Studies from University of California, Berkeley. She is pursuing her doctorate in Italian studies with a concentration in screen cultures at the University of Notre Dame, where she is a Humanities Presidential Fellow. While completing her doctoral work, Troyani is also lecturing in Italian studies at Berkeley. Her research interests include travel literature and the formation of Italian identities. Charles Leavitt is a postdoctoral fellow in Italian studies at the University of Notre Dame, having earned the Ph.D. in literature from Notre Dame in August 2010. He studies postwar Italian literature in a comparative context. His dissertation, _Reconciling Word and World: Theories of Literature in the Age of Neorealism_, examines postwar Italian newspapers, journals, and literary periodicals in order to illuminate the cultural, political, and literary debates that re-shaped Italy after fascism, and to redefine the Italian contribution to modern European literature and culture. Leavitt has been a Humanities Presidential Fellow at the University of Notre Dame and an Annese Fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.