Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Richard S Lowry


This dissertation explores how American representations of Italians and Italian Americans engaged, reflected and helped shape the United States' developing concepts of immigration, ethnicity, race, and national identity from 1880 to 1910, when masses of Italian and other "new immigrants" rigorously tested the country's attitudes and powers of assimilation. In a larger sense, the research examines how the process of constructing the modern Italian/Italian American was part of the process of America constructing for itself a modern national identity for a new century.;The dissertation looks at a variety of "texts," including journalism, travel literature, autobiography, fiction, and photographs and illustrations of the period, but concentrates on a handful of American writers and their works. Chapter 1 compares the reportage and photography of the immigrant journalist Jacob A. Riis with the reporting of the "new" immigrant journalist Edward A. Steiner. Chapter 2 examines Henry James's The American Scene in the context of his other writings on Italy and Italians, including travel essays, short stories, and The Golden Bowl . Chapter 3 focuses on Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad and I. Also part of the discussion are two works by William Dean Howells, Venetian Life and A Hazard of New Fortunes .;The research showed that these writers alternately supported and subverted America's often conflicting and confused attitudes and ideas about Italy and Italians, a tangle of discourses related to the romance of artistic, heroic, picturesque Italy and the reality of the Italian "Other" arriving in the form of masses of immigrants on American shores.



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