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From Wiseguys to Wise Men: The Gangster and Italian American Masculinities / Edition 1

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The gangster, in the hands of the Italian American artist, becomes a telling figure in the tale of American race, gender, and ethnicity - a figure that reflects the autobiography of an immigrant group just as it reflects the fantasy of a native population.

From Wiseguys to Wise Men studies the figure of the gangster and explores its social function in the construction and projection of masculinity in the United States. By looking at the cultural icon of the gangster through the lens of gender, this book presents new insights into material that has been part of American culture for close to 100 years.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Seeking to understand the ever-changing meaning of how Italian-American men are portrayed, Gardaphe, director of the Italian-American studies program at SUNY-Stony Brook, deconstructs the evolution of the gangster figure in American literature, film and television. He starts with a brief accounting of how gangsters came to find power and the cultural limelight during Prohibition in the 1920s and the Great Depression in the 1930s. Then, in lively prose, Gardaphe exposes how The Godfatherboth the book and the movieromanticized the gangster while creating a template of behavior for the Italian-American male. When looking at the realism in the gangster films of Martin Scorsese, Gardaphe comments that Scorsese's gangsters are "men trapped forever in an immature stage." The popularity of Francis Ford Coppola's romanticism and Scorsese's realism left the door wide open for parodies of the gangster character as seen in such books as Giose Rimanelli's Bendetta in Guysterland, with its homosexual gangsters, and Louisa Ermelino's The Sisters Mallone, which depicts women embodying the trope gangster qualities as a means, according to Gardaphe, of showing the "folly of basing masculinity on traditional macho gangster behavior." Gardaphe's ability to use criticism based on scholarly topics as well as pop culture concepts elevates this book beyond the academic. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415946483
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 3/1/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Fred L. Gardaphe directs the Italian-American Studies Program at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is author of Italian Signs, American Streets: The Evolution of Italian American Narrative, Leaving Little Italy: Essaying Italian American Culture, Dagoes Read: Tradition and the Italian/American Writer, and Moustache Pete is Dead!: Italian/American Oral Tradition Preserved in Print.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Origins of an archetype 3
Ch. 2 The gangster as culture hero : Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola 21
Ch. 3 The truth about gangsters : Gay Talese and Ben Morreale 45
Ch. 4 Rough boys : the gangsters of Martin Scorsese and Michael Cimino 67
Ch. 5 Queering the gangster : Giose Rimanelli and Frank Lentricchia 89
Ch. 6 Female masculinity and the gangster : Louisa Ermelino 109
Ch. 7 The gangster as public intellectual : Anthony Valerio and Don DeLillo 129
Ch. 8 Fresh garbage : the gangster as today's trickster - David Chase and Tony Ardizzone 149
Ch. 9 New directions in Italian-American manhood 171
Ch. 10 From macho to zero : redesigning Italian-American masculinities 193
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