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“The loss, the search, the story”: paradigma iniziatico e meditazione sull’identità afro-italo-americana in The Skin Between Us (2006)

By placing Kym Ragusa’s memoir, The Skin Between Us (2006), in the context of the Italian American Bildungsroman and memoir, this article identifies Ragusa’s as a pivotal text, diverging from the “traditional” Italian American coming-of-age narrative. Through the analysis of the interstices, thresholds, and entry/ exit rituals present in the memoir, I propose a reading of The Skin Between Us as a narrative of initiation. Such a shift in interpretation entails a refunctionalization of some specific features of the Italian American Bildungsroman and configures The Skin Between Us as a turning point in the Italian American literary canon. In fact, the reflection carried out by the author on her dual African American and Italian American cultural belonging does not solely revolve on the negotiation between ethnicity and mainstream American community, but rather incorporates an element of additional otherness (the racial one) in the definition of an Italian American subjectivity. In this sense, the lyrical reflection that ends Ragusa’s memoir is investigated as a potential reconceptualization of the self that indicates a new, transnational threshold of existence.

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Cristina Di Maio
titolo rivista di riferimento: 
Il Bildungsroman negli Stati Uniti: una storia problematica
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