Great Authors, Composers and Artists

HON H-233 — Spring 2019

Colleen Ryan
Sycamore Hall 004
Days and Times
TR, 1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.
Course Description

Topic: Mamma mia!: Feeling Ethnicity in the Works of Italian American Women Artists

Open to Hutton Honors College students only

At times a single expression like “Mamma mia!” can be a metaphor for its whole culture of origin---stimulating the senses and conjuring an array of images, maybe even stereotypes, as we pronounce the words or hear them in our ear. If we dig, however, we are likely to discover that this expression takes root in folklore and customs from ages past and that its meaning can change according to the social or historical context in which it is used, the individual subject uttering it, or the vocal tone and body language accompanying it.

This course examines the meaning of “mamma” – moms, madonnas, mother figures, maternal qualities, and mothering experiences-- through the works of Italian American women writers and artists of other genres. Approaching motherhood as a social, historical, and literary construct, we will treat themes such as traditional versus alternative forms of motherhood, limiting versus empowering notions of maternity, the ideal of the “good mother’; the concept of mother as “other”; gender roles and the relationship between mothers and fathers. Among key questions we will entertain together are: What conceptual and theoretical elements are specific to motherhood and which intersect with other aspects of identity such as gender, race, class, profession, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) identity?; What are the predominant images and metaphors that derive from Italian American and maternal identities combined?; What are some essential characteristics of Italian American maternal experiences, desires, and subjectivities?; Which aspects of Italian (continental) and immigrant (first/second generation) cultures still shape artistic representations of motherhood today? ; In what specific ways have Italian American women / mothers contributed socially, politically, and artistically to the American cultural scene?

Class number: 10693

3 credits