As the real American gangsters of yesterday recede into history, their iconic figures loom larger than ever. On Friday, March 31, at 6 p.m., Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, located at 24 W. 12th Street, will host a discussion on the book From Wiseguys to Wisemen: Masculinities and the Italian American Gangster with author Fred Gardaphe, NYU Professor Josephine Hendin, and Robert Viscusi from Brooklyn College. The event is free and open to the public; for further information call 212.998.3862 or visit www.nyu.edu/pages/casaitaliana.
From Wise Guys to Wisemen studies the cultural figure of the gangster and explores his social function in the construction and projection of masculinity in the United States. In the hands of Italian-American writers, the gangster becomes a telling figure in the tale of American race, gender, and ethnicity — a figure reflecting the experience of an immigrant group and the fantasy of a native population.
With the cinematic work of Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, the image of the gangster has been humanized and more broadly disseminated. Gardaphe investigates the role of the gangster in film, as well as in the literature of such writers as Mario Puzo and Gay Talese.
Gardaphe directs SUNY at Stony Brook’s Italian/American Studies Program. His books include Mustache Pete Is Dead! and Leaving Little Italy.