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Italian-American Folklore
     

Italian-American Folklore

by William M. Clements
 

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Italian-Americans compose one of the largest ethnic groups in the United States. Though they have often been portrayed in fiction and film, many of these images are based on stereotypes not borne out among the immigrant and assimilated population. Italian-American Folklore draws its material directly from Americans of Italian descent in both urban and rural

Overview

Italian-Americans compose one of the largest ethnic groups in the United States. Though they have often been portrayed in fiction and film, many of these images are based on stereotypes not borne out among the immigrant and assimilated population. Italian-American Folklore draws its material directly from Americans of Italian descent in both urban and rural communities. The result is a book that, while strongly anchored in scholarship, is readable, entertaining, and illuminating. Chapters on folk speech, superstitions, folk medicine, games, and more tell of customs common to Italian-Americans. But the authors have also taken pains to stress the importance of regional ties, detailing how customs vary among the Italian provinces, and how those differences have traveled to Italian-American communities as well. This collection of Italian folktales will teach readers the importance of caring, resourcefulness and respect.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Based on published research, fiction and interviews, this work offers an diverting overview of the popular cultural baggage--customs, beliefs and entertainments--that Italian immigrants brought to America (and some embellishments they added as they adapted to their new life). At best, the book informs without being too scholarly for the general reader (for example, a discussion of folk superstitions is introduced by the insight that some immigrant Italians found the Catholic Church in the U.S. to be more legalistic and formal than the Catholic Church in Italy). But at times the authors seem merely to be ticking items off a list, as when they enumerate folk medicine cures--rubbing urine on one's forehead or wearing a crown of lemon leaves to cure a headache--without hinting when, where or why the cures were used. However, those who grew up listening to folk tales and proverbs or hearing about St. Joseph's Day food offerings and the ``evil eye'' may page through this work for the fun of it or even because, as the authors note, such traditions ``help people know who they are.'' Malpezzi and Clements teach English and folklore at Arkansas State University. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Folklorists Malpezzi and Clements have produced a colorful overview of the folkways of Italian immigrants and their descendants in the United States. Following an introduction of other scholars' efforts to collect data about Italian American folk customs, the authors present a history of Italian immigration from Europe to the eastern United States and California (which began largely around 1880). The lore of a broad cross section of Italian Americans is then analyzed through chapters on conversation, life rituals, religious days and other important events, supernatural beliefs and medicine, recreation, storytelling, performing arts, and food. Other folklore studies, such as Elizabeth Mathias and Richard Raspa's Italian Folktales in America: The Verbal Art of an Immigrant Woman ( LJ 9/1/85), focus on lore from one Italian person or region; the strength of this volume is its interview materials and data representing many Italian Americans. For ethnic/immigrant and folklore collections. (Photos and index not seen.)-- Christina Carter, California State Univ. Lib., Fresno

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780874835335
Publisher:
August House Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
12/28/2005
Series:
American Folklore Series
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
487,069
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.53(h) x 0.88(d)
Lexile:
1300L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Lillian Morrison Bio: As the coordinator of young adult services at the New York Public Library, Lillian Morrison collected rhymes and chants from her young patrons that she later compiled into anthologies. Morrison also edited a collection of folk sayings, I Scream, You Scream: A Feast of Food Rhymes. A School Library Journal reviewer wrote that the book,“has the tone of something that really is for kids, who all know the magic of a good, loud chant. Put a copy on your shelf, then put your ear to the window at recess, and see if you don’t hear some of these short verses rising up from the chaos of the schoolyard.” “Lillian Morrison’s contributions to the world of children’s literature and librarianship were many,” said Ellen Ruffin, curator of the de Grummond Collection at University of Southern Mississippi, where Morrison’s papers are housed. “She spent more than forty years as a librarian and wrote children’s poetry books, an unusual combination of both a writer and a practitioner - proof positive of her commitment to children and books.” Her dedication to library services for children led to her receiving the ALA Grolier Award for her contributions in stimulating the interest of young readers. Nancy Dunaway Bio: Nancy Dunaway’s work is a reflection of her life: very eclectic, a curious combination of objects often inspired by a glimpse of something natural and then taking a leap somewhere else. She has a very spiritual side and her work always reflects that component as well. She likes to think that her work tells stories of her journey along the path. Although her art is very specific to her life, she hopes that it connects with her audience to touch their life stories as well. She works in a variety of media and loves to explore the unique attributes of each form. Making her art is a dialogue between her, the process and the materials. She begins with a loose notion, then puts a mark or an image on canvas or paper. She gathers materials to assemble, and then, they guide her where to go next. As a result, her work is filled with a constant dialogue and surprises along the way.

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