Breaking Open: Reflections on Italian American Women's Writing

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Mary Ann Vigilante Mannino, Justin Vitiello
Purdue University Press, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 357 pages
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Breaking Open explores the deep connection between prominent Italian American women writers, their heritage, and their writing. In-depth discussions of these writers' family traditions and memories of growing up in an American culture as an Italian child, including the difficulties of dueling dialects and dual cultures, explain how their unique cultural connections have impacted their work. For many of these writers, there has been a distinctive separation between their involvement with their families, immersed as they were in the culture the immigrants brought to this country, and their eventual rise to positions of prominence in academic or literary circles in the United States. While reading Breaking Open, readers are encouraged to determine for themselves whether or not this is the case.In trying to establish a unified identity, Italian American women writers face conflicting home values, those steeped in the traditions of the Italians (immigrants) and those values emerging out of a sense of what it means to be Italian-American. These differing views are further confounded by the beliefs of the overarching American society. As writers, they discuss the ways these conflicts are respresented in their works. In addition, five scholars in the field of Italian American literature critically analyze works by many of the creative writers in this anthology and discuss the future of the field.

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What I Wanted to Ask and Say Where and When This Book Was Conceived
Difference Identity and Saint Augustine
Breakage and Beauty
Toward a New Catholic Novel The ItalianAmerican Woman Writer and the Church
Breaking the JarMending the Jar
Until the Voices Came
Recollections of My Life As a Woman
Shame and Silence in My Work
Forging into the American Mainstream since the 1960s On Being a Woman Writer with an Italian Name
A Usable Past Writing to the Hybrid Future
Notes of a Lyric Artist Working in Prose A Lifelong Conversation with Myself Entered Midway
But Is It Great? The Question of the Canon for Italian American Women Writers
The Double Burden of Italian American Women Writers
Speaking Through Silences Ethnicity in the Writings of ItalianAmerican Women
Stains of an Immigrant Past Inherited Habits of Being

La Carta Parla
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Page 15 - In attempting to work out a synthesis, the self has added a third element which is greater than the sum of its severed parts. That third element is a new consciousness - a mestiza consciousness - and though it is a source of intense pain, its energy comes from continual creative motion that keeps breaking down the unitary aspect of each new paradigm.

About the author (2003)

Mary Ann Vigilante Mannino is currently a visiting assistant professor of English at Temple University. Her most recent book, Revisionary Identities: Strategies of Empowerment in the Writing of Italian American Women, argues that current writers remember and write about their immigrant grandmothers as empowered women. A creative writer herself, her poem ""Jimmy Fahey"" was given first place in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards in 2001. She has published short stories and poetry in many literary journals.

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