FLUSHNG, NY, April 20, 2010— Fred Gardaphe, Distinguished Professor of English and Italian American Studies at Queens College and the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar teaching fellowship. He will lecture in American Cultural Studies at the University of Salerno in Italy during the 2010-11 academic year. Fulbright recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
Gardaphe will teach one undergraduate and one graduate course that will explore how the humor expressed in major U.S. cultural works by artists as diverse as Mark Twain and Chris Rock reflects the nation and its people across a significant period of historical development. “I want Italian students to understand the changes large and small wrought upon the American identity, and I want them to understand the role humor plays in American media arts,” he says.
The multidisciplinary and multicultural classes will expose students to a wide variety of American print and electronic media. “My goal,” observes Gardaphe, “is to work with students to facilitate a transatlantic understanding of how European cultures have contributed to the creation of American culture, and how Americans developed different kinds of humor based on the interaction of these cultures.”
“At Queens College, we value teaching and scholarship in equal measure,” says President James Muyskens. “And so I am especially proud that Distinguished Professor Fred Gardaphe has received a Fulbright Award to work abroad. His focus on ‘the American sense of humor’ and what it reveals about our culture echoes the college’s own emphasis on fostering deeper understanding between cultures. It’s wonderful that his inspirational teaching will now be crossing the ocean, reaching more college students.”
Raised in the predominantly Italian American community of Melrose Park, Illinois, Gardaphe earned a BS in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; an MA in English from the University of Chicago; and a Ph.D. in Literature at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with an emphasis on cultural criticism and American multicultural literature. A leading expert in the field of American Studies, he directs the Italian American Studies Program at Queens College, where he teaches courses in Italian American history and culture, film and literature. He was recruited to Queens in 2008 after a decade spent building up an Italian-American studies program at SUNY-Stony Brook. Queens’s student body is ethnically very mixed, and many students work full or part time. Maybe that’s why QC feels “more connected to the rest of the world,” he says.
Gardaphe, a prolific writer of essays, book reviews, drama, fiction, film, video scripts and poetry, has delved into subjects rarely tackled, including the experiences of immigrants and their American-born children. Among his books are Italian Signs, American Streets: The Evolution of Italian American Narrative (1993), based on his award-winning dissertation; Dagoes Read: Tradition and the Italian/American Writer (1996); Moustache Pete is Dead!: Italian/American Oral Tradition Preserved in Print (1996); Leaving Little Italy: Essaying Italian American Culture (2004); and From Wiseguys to Wise Men: The Gangster and Italian/American Masculinities (2006), his study of the gangster figure in U.S. culture. He also serves as associate editor of Fra Noi, an Italian American monthly newspaper.
In 2005 Gardaphe was awarded the John Fante and Pietro di Donato Literary Award for his contributions to Italian American Literature by the New York State Lodge of the Order Sons of Italy in America. The American Italian Cultural Roundtable honored him and author Helen Barolini in 2001 for their distinguished service to Italian American culture. Along with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Gardaphe received the 1999 Lehman-LaGuardia Award for Civic Achievement from the Commission for Social Justice of the Order Sons of Italy in America and the Tri Boro/Long Island Region of B’nai B’rith International.
Approximately 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals will travel internationally this fall through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. America’s flagship international educational exchange program operating in more than 155 countries, the Fulbright is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Among previous Fulbright recipients are Muhammad Yunus, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006; Ruth Simmons, President, Brown University; Craig Barrett, Chairman of the Board, Intel Corporation; Alejandro Jara, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organization; Renee Fleming, soprano; and Aneesh Raman, CNN Middle East Correspondent.
Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY), founded in 1937, is dedicated to the idea that a first-rate education should be accessible to talented individuals of all backgrounds and financial means. Its more than 20,000 students come from over 140 nations and speak scores of languages, creating an extraordinarily diverse and welcoming environment. Located on a beautiful, 77-acre campus in Flushing, Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. Queens College was named one of the nation’s 25 “hottest” and “most interesting” colleges by the 2008 Kaplan/Newsweek How to Get Into College guide, and is rated one of America’s 100 “Best Value Colleges” by the 2009 edition of The Princeton Review. The college opened its first residence hall in August 2009. More info on Queens College at www.qc.cuny.edu.