Italian American ethnicity transcends, for the authors who appear in this study, the restrictive bounds of identity politics. While Italian American identity is not, as such, a political choice, the authors I write about treat ethnic identity as political by underscoring the impact of class, race, gender, and sexual orientation on their self-identification. Italian American identity is called into question by writers who are uncomfortable with any prefabricated or reductive notion of identity I use the denomination “Italian American” as a lens through which to investigate certain features of this literature. This lens, molded according to different criteria for defining identity itself, also helps me to put under scrutiny the unquestioned reliance on the term “Italian American”: I am interested in the status of the term and the multiple—at times contradictory—ways in which these authors engage Italian American identity.1 While I reject, as do the authors I focus on, any essentializing notion of identity, I believe that terminology is politically relevant.
KeywordsAmerican Woman Ethnic Identity Literary History Political Choice Woman Writer
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