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Numero 1

Primavera 1994 - Anno I


enlightened Dove comincia e dove finisce l'America

enlightened Le frontiere del discorso storico. Rileggendo Frederick J. Turner

enlightened Toni Morrison: i fantasmi e la scrittura

 

Editoriale - p. 5

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Testo a fronte

It Is the Responsibility - È Responsabilità – pag. 6

Grace Paley
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Confini

The sky's the limit: dove comincia e dove finisce l'America – pag. 8

Alessandro Portelli

American imagination combines solipsism with a sense of besiegedness: the "invisible world" outside is empty, available - and teeming with spectres, from Mexican immigrants to Japanese products. Drawing on James, Emerson, Melville, Mark Twain - and on science fiction, the Oz books, folk songs, oral history, and the current multiculturalism debate - this essay discusses America's determination (as James says of Isabel Archer) "to regard the world as a place of brightness, of free expansion, of irresistible action" as a source of America's possibility and danger, imaginative wealth and uncertain identity, democratic vistas and imperialistic threat. Metaphors of boundaries and borders in Ellison, Wright, Morrison, Walker, Anzaldua identifying African American and minority presence are then examined as the element which sets a limit to the hegemonic dream and nightmare of boundlessness, materializing America's body and turning borders from edges on emptiness into grounds of creation and conflict.

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La conciencia de la mestiza / Verso una nuova coscienza – pag. 19

Gloria Anzaldúa
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L'esperienza afroamericana e la storiografia: pregiudizi, cancellazioni, confini – pag. 31

Bruno Cartosio

The writing of history is not simply a matter of rigorous scholarship and rational choices. Culture and ideology play inevitably a major role in the historian's rendition of the past. This explains how a historian like Ulrich B. Phillips, the leading authority on slavery during the 10s and 20s, could altogether exclude the point of view of the slaves by refusing to give any credit to available slave narratives. It was not lack of professionalism on his part, but his ideological prejudices that prevented Ulrich from considering the slaves' own words on the "peculiar institution". Similarly, other "progressive" historians like F.J. Turner and Louis Parrington took for granted the racial and cultural superiority of white Anglo-Saxon civilization, thereby pushing outside the borders of their discourse the past Afro-American, native and immigrant points of view. This ideological consensus, first challenged during the thirties, would eventually break down only thanks to the social and cultural opposition of the sixties. Whatever its new distortions may be, this novel historiography focused precisely on the voices and concerns excluded by elite historians fifty or sixty years earlier.

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Le frontiere del discorso storico. Rileggendo Frederick Jackson Turner – pag. 40

Ferdinando Fasce

Frederick Jackson Turner's The Significance of the Frontier in American History is placed against the background of the Chicago World Columbian Exposition 1893, where it was originally delivered as a paper at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. A close reading of the text shows the complex strategy that Turner deployed in order to turn what appeared a threatening development of the times, the closing of the gates of the Western frontier, into an opportunity for national self-awareness. The article explores the sophisticated and contradictory treatment of issues of race, expansion, and historical evolution which underpinned Turner's discourse.

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Le frontiere della lingua. La commutazione di codice nella letteratura portoricana in inglese – pag. 49

Anna Scannavini

Code-switching is perhaps the key feature of second-generation Puertorican literature in the continental U.S. Code-switching goes beyond standard bilingualism, and is not limited to the joint or alternate use of Spanish and English. The "newness" of American-Puertorican writers lies in their willingness and ability to resort to all social varieties of both languages, as well as other codes -Black English, for example - available to them. Code-switching also fosters a form of grammatical, stylistic, and morphological creativity, exemplified in the writers' use of "Spanglish", "tex-mex" and other mixed codes. Far from being a source of embarrassment, its hybrid linguistic nature provides Puertorican-American literature with a wealth of stylistic and expressive solutions.

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Intervista

Sacvan Bercovitch: storia letteraria e molteplicità – pag. 58

a cura di Cristina Mattiello

In this interview, Harvard University American Literature professor Sacvan Bercovitch speaks about: how the Puritan myth still works in the political situation and culture of America today; the premises behind the new literary history project he is editing, and the move from literary histories to cultural studies. Nationalities, he says, do not only need an organization for living but also a basis for a belief; and this rhetoric Of faith, supplied by the Puritans, continues to be used by politicians in America today. The new literary history he is currently editing aims to emphasize different views of literature and history in detail as opposed to short pieces following a certain formula written by authoritative experts on American literary figures; it will represent a generation rather than eternity. Literary history, he believes, may be moving toward a new kind of cultural study. What an educated person may need to know these days in order to be sophisticated is not only Shakespeare or Milton but gender, race, ethnicity and movies, thus putting literature at the center of human life rather than making it an elite specialty. With representative individualism, there are more women and blacks in elite and prestigious positions against the still enormous backdrop of poverty, illiteracy and discrimination. But while it can't change the system, cultural studies in universities can at least point out problems within the system and is hopeful ground, Bercovitch believes, for unsettling people in more permanent ways and making them think about the relation between language and power.

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Aggiornamenti

Scritture dei Latinos e degli Asian Americans – pag. 62

Mario Maffi
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Saggi

Toni Morrison: la memoria, i fantasmi e la scrittura – pag. 68

Giulia Scarpa

Toni Morrison's narrative discourse stems from the conflict between her characters' ambition to attain mythic status and the usually oppressive reality in which they find themselves. Through her work, Morrison rewrites the heritage of African-American culture and history, thus rethinking the multiple codes and signs comprising the entire American literary tradition. Writing is for her an act of re-membrance: a way to bring together different layers of memory into a meaningful whole. Memory can take different shapes, such as the shape of a ghost. The ghost metaphor aptly embodies the invisible presences of her characters' and narrators' memories, which construct a seemingly endless narrative network. A firm believer in the power and the necessity of narrative, Morrison's work provides an important, significant alternative to the minimalist episode as well as the self-referential world of much post-modernist writing.

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Ideologia come spettacolo e spettacolo dell'ideologia in The Red Badge of Courage di Stephen Crane – pag. 78

Giorgio Mariani

Like several other texts of Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage can be read as a parody of late nineteenth-century American popular literature. However, notwithstanding the narrator's irony, aimed at chivalric and epic representations of war prominent in the emergent mass culture of the day, the novel does not develop a consistent critique of the contemporary martial spirit. On the contrary, because of its tendency to render war as a spectacle, the text ends up supporting the martial ideology that, on another level, it sets out to contest. The spectacularization of war turns out to be the means of ideological containment characteristic of this novel.

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Testo a fronte

Midrash on Happiness - Midrash sulla felicità – pag. 90

Grace Paley
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