Father, Fathering and Fatherhood in the Italian American Narrative (tentative title)

deadline for submissions: 
November 30, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Elisa Bordin Universita Ca' Foscari Venezia and Dr. Theodora Patrona Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
contact email: 

Father, Fathering and Fatherhood in the Italian American Narrative (tentative title)

Elisa Bordin and Theodora Patrona, editors

The primacy of the family unit in Italian American culture inevitably invites examination of the vital role of parenting. Mothers and fathers, present or absent, accessible, inaccessible, engaged or disengaged, populate Italian American novels and memoirs, films and TV series, stamping uniquely their offspring’s lives either with their boisterous voices, overwhelming ways, and unconditional affection, or even through their confrontative attitudes, haunting silences and distance. Whereas the motherly representations in Italianamericanità, iconic or iconoclastic, have been sufficiently researched and discussed in scholarship, the fatherly figures have admittedly received significantly less attention, in stark contrast to their ample and, often, diametrically opposed depictions in fiction, television and film.

Some of the earliest well known novelistic fathers are the cruel Gennaro in Garibaldi M. Lapolla’s Gran Gennaro (1935), the self-sacrificing Geremio in Pietro di Donato’s Christ in Concrete (1939), the moving Pietro in Mari Tomasi’s Like Lesser Gods (1949) and the heavy-drinking and womanizing father in John Fante’s novels and short stories; in later times one cannot forget the outraged and ultraconservative fathers in Dorothy Bryant’s Miss Giardino (1978) and Josephine Gattuso Hendin’s The Right Thing to Do (1988), the traumatized and traumatizing father in DeSalvo’s memoirs, the meek Serafino in Helen Barolini’s Umbertina (1979), and Kim Ragusa’s dysfunctional father with his interracial relationships and heroin addiction in The Skin Between Us (2006), to name but a few. As regards visual culture, the blockbuster filmic sequels of the The Godfather foregrounded the emblematic patriarch Vito Corleone, while TV viewers pondered over the psychologically fragile “pater familias” Tony Soprano in the multi-awarded TV series The Sopranos.  The crime-prone fathers are, obviously, juxtaposed to moral characters such as the law-abiding MTA bus driver Lorenzo in Robert De Niro’s A Bronx Tale (1993) and the tender father Tony Micelli in the 1980s ABC sitcom Who’s The Boss (1984-1992). These are only very few narratives that assist in underlining the omnipresence and chiaroscuro of the fatherly portrayal, a parameter that along with the scarcity of bibliography on the discussion of the father, fathering and fatherhood stresses the originality and necessity of such a publishing venture.

Taking all these into consideration, the editors invite submissions for possible inclusion in a collection of essays that will explore literary fiction, memoirs,  film and television to address issues that include (but are not limited to) the following questions/matters:


  • Representations of fatherhood in literature, memoirs, cinema and television
  • Surrogate fatherhood and alternative forms of fathering
  • Fathers and patriarchy/gender roles
  • Fatherhood and cultural identity
  • Fatherhood/fathering and religion
  • Fatherhood and violence
  • Fathers and sexuality
  • Interracial fathering
  • “Diverse” father figures (queer, multiracial/multiethnic, differently-abled, etc.)
  • Immigrant fathers as countermodels for their U.S.-born children
  • Fathers as connections between the ancestral land and the adoptive country
  • Fathers and their expectations for U.S.-born children

We are looking for papers which are theoretically informed and ethnohistorically grounded. They must engage with key theoretical concepts associated with ethnic studies, and must be written in a compelling and accessible prose. Length should not exceed 6,000 words, including bibliography.

All submissions will undergo peer review.


Please send a well-developed, 350-500 word abstract, and a CV to Elisa Bordin (elisa.bordin@unive.it) and Theodora Patrona (tpatrona@gmail.com) by November 30 2022. The abstract must outline the author’s theoretical framework and identify the aims of the work. It must include relevant bibliography.

Formal invitation to contribute to the volume by December 15, 2022.

Deadline for the submission of the book chapter, May 31, 2023.

Projected date of publication TBA