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MTV's Jersey Shore Spurs Controversy and Stereotypes

24th January 2010

jerseyshoreItalian Americans have been at the epicenter of pop culture recently given the surprising popularity of the MTV reality show Jersey Shore. The show, hotly contested both by Italian American groups and the state of New Jersey, followed a group of young self-proclaimed “guidos” and “guidettes,” putting the same old cultural stereotypes back in the limelight.

Fordham Press is putting out several books this season focusing on the cultural significance of Italians and Italian Americans, at a time when it’s more important than ever to remember that the Italian American culture is more than pizza, tanning, and hair gel.

italianstyleAmerican Woman, Italian Style: Italian Americana’s Best Writings on Women , edited by Carol Bonomo Albright and Christine Palamidessi Moore and coming out in June, is an essay collection which seeks to bring awareness to the successes and triumphs of the modern Italian American woman. With topics ranging from cookbooks, inventions, Jewish-Italian intermarriages, and entrepreneurship, the collection offers an in-depth look at modern womanhood from all angles.

Italian Folk: Vernacular Culture in Italian-American Lives is another essay collection that aims to dispel popular stereotypes and illuminates Italian-American traditions such as Sunday dinners, parades, and basement kitchens as rituals that lend vitality and meaning to the community. Edited by Joseph Sciorra and publishing in June, the book is “a well-researched, admirably varied, and classroom-friendly collection of essays on Italian-American folklore and vernacular culture.” (Tad Tuleja, Princeton University).

Still another essay collection, forthcoming in August, examines the Italian culture through the tradition of domesticity and issues of gender. Intimacy and Italian Migration: Gender and Domestic Lives in a Mobile World, edited by Loretta Baldassar and Donna R. Gabaccia, adds a new dimension to our understanding of nation-building through its examination of the role of intimate cultural processes.


Lastly, Luigi Bonaffini and Joseph Perricone edited the bilingual anthology Poets of the Italian Diaspora. Approximately 27 million Italians left their home country to live and work abroad between 1870 and 1970, a time of historic upheaval in the small Mediterranean nation. This landmark volume presents a truly international selection of works by more than 70 Italian-language poets who are writing in countries for Australia to Venezuela. The poems are presented in both Italian and English, and are also given critical overviews, and a bibliography for each author, rendering it a thorough and ground-breaking work of literature. You can get your copy in June.