HIST Goodfellas, Godfathers and Sopranos: The Image of Italian American Immigrants in Film and Literature

Course Name:  HIST Goodfellas, Godfathers and Sopranos: The Image of Italian American Immigrants in Film and Literature

Description: This course explores the historical representations of linguistic, social, and cultural contexts of Italian and Italian-American immigrants from the late 19th century to the present. We will examine the historical context of literature and film as a mode of cultural representation with a focus on the following topics: assimilation; the centrality and importance of the family unit, the rise of organized crime; social codes used by the mafia (honor and silence); gender roles and stereotypes; and the modern, creative re-imagining of the “American Dream” as seen through the perspective of the shared challenges and traditions of Italian immigrants.  Texts will include Mario Puzo’s "The Fortunate Pilgrim," Helen Barolini’s "Umbertina," Pietro di Donato’s "Christ in Concrete" and "Vita" by Melania Mazzucco. These primary sources will be used to discuss the construction of historical memory and identity in Italian-Americans and its significance to modern U.S. history. A close comparison between the images of Italian-Americans in these novels to their counterparts in film will include a study of  Francis Ford Coppola’s "The Godfather," Martin Scorsese’s "Goodfellas," Sergio Leone’s "Once Upon a Time in America" and the hit TV show "The Sopranos." 

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: None