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Thomas J. Ferraro

Thomas J. Ferraro, Professor of English and Education and Bass Fellow of English

Education:

Ph.D., Yale University, 1988
M. Phil., Yale University (with distinction), 1983
M.A., Yale University, 1983
B.A., Amherst College, 1979
Contact Info:

323 Allen Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 684-3718
ferraro@duke.edu
http://www.duke.edu/web/education/~ferraro
Office Hours:

Fall 2018 Office Hours


W, 3:15-4:30; Th, 3:15-4:30; and by apt.


323 Allen Building


Duke University


Durham NC 27708-0015

Research Interests: American Literature and Culture, with special expertise in the novel and in the interplay of religion, ethnicity, and the media arts

Current projects: I've promised to illuminate the most outrageous--and darkest--of Mario Puzo's figural registers in _The Godfather_, which have haunted my teaching and gained progressive possession of my thinking since some wonderful conversations and papers, moons ago, with students, mainly female and mainly grad, including Lisa Mulman, Christina Tourino, and Julia Dryer, but which have escaped (except for an indulgent line or two) my publishing., And then to a book on the painter/illustrator/prose-poet Joseph Stella.

Professor Ferraro is an aficionado of the great American stuff--Emily Dickinson, Edward Hopper, the Marx Brothers, and Nina Simone--who writes on literature, film, and the performing arts. He is the author of Ethnic Passages: Literary Immigrants in 20th-Century America (U Chicago, 1993), the editor of Catholic Lives, Contemporary America (Duke, 1997), and a contributor to The Columbia History of the American Novel, Scribner's Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History, and The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature .  Of his essays: "Lorenzo's Chrism," concerns the sacred import of (the battle against) a very rare but fatal disease--adrenoleukodystrophy--given its genetic etiology, mysterious biochemistry, and metabolic havoc; "Of 'Lascivious Mysticism' and other Hibernian Matters" looks at the Protestant temptation to fin-de-siecle Catholic decadence in Harold Frederic.  And a recent essay, "Boys to Men," examines the street Catholicism of Irish-American charisma, including the untoward and unsuspected sexual chemistries, in the 1938 Cagney gangster flick, Angels with Dirty Faces.
    Prof. Ferraro's new book, Feeling Italian: the Art of Ethnicity in America (NYU, 2005), explores the Italian aesthetic seduction of the United States--from the sensational trials of murderess Maria Barbella and the eerily prescient city paintings of Joseph Stella to latter-day icons including Sinatra, Madonna, and the Corleones--yielding not the familiar tale of racial assimilation, How the Guineas Got White, but a revelatory counter-drama of ongoing ethnic enculturation, How America Gets (To Feel) Italian.  Feeling Italian is a winner of a 2006 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, for making "an outstanding contribution to American literature."

Comments:

Professor Ferraro is an aficionado of the great American stuff--Emily Dickinson, Edward Hopper, the Marx Brothers, and Nina Simone--who writes on literature, film, and the performing arts. He is the author of Feeling Italian: The Art of Ethnicity in America (NYU, 2005; winner of a 2006 American Book Award), Ethnic Passages: Literary Immigrants in 20th-Century America (U Chicago, 1993), the editor of Catholic Lives, Contemporary America (Duke, 1997), and a contributor to The Columbia History of the American Novel, Scribner's Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History, and The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature.  Contrary by temperament, at least as a scholar-critic, he is currently at work on a Marian Catholic pedagogy of the great American novel: a revisionist account of the interplay among violative self-making, transgressive sexuality and redemptive sacrifice, in an effort to recapture both the aesthetic wonder and social danger of the canonical warhorses (from Hawthorne's A Scarlet Letter and Melville's Billy Budd to Chopin, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Hurston) .  Of course his arguments don't always turn out as projected--witness the recent accounting of Willa Cather's The Professor's House, in which the resurgent discourse of sin gives Ferraro, like the title character, his comeuppance.
 

Curriculum Vitae

Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1.  Feeling Italian: the Art of Ethnicity in America. New York UP, May, 2005. (Winner, 2006 American Book Award. Choice, Recommended Book.)  [abs]
  2. Ferraro, TJ. Ethnic Passages: Literary Immigrants in Twentieth-Century America. U of Chicago P, 1993. (Chapter I, "Blood in the Marketplace," was originally invited for Werner Sollors, ed., The Invention of Ethnicity [Oxford UP, 1986], and has been reprinted in reference works on Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. The introduction is to be similarly reprinted in August 2008.)
  3. Ferraro, TJ. "Boys to Men (Salvific Masculinity in /Angels with Dirty Faces/)." Catholics in the Movies. Ed. McDannell, C. Oxford University Press, 2008. 59-82.  [abs] [author's comments]
  4. Ferraro, TJ. "At long last love; Or, literary history in the key of difference." American Literary History 15.1Oxford University Press (OUP), (December, 2003): 78-86. [doi]
  5. Ferraro, TJ. "Lorenzo’s Chrism." Saq 103.1 (Winter, 2004): 235-63.
  6. Ferraro, TJ. "Of ’Lascivious Mysticism’ and Other Hibernian Matters." U.S. Catholic Historian 23.3 (Summer, 2005): 1-17.
  7. Ferraro, TJ. "Whole Families Shopping at Night!." New Essays on White Noise. Ed. Lentricchia, F. Cambridge UP, 1991.  15-38  [author's comments]

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