Featured Profile

Thomas J. Ferraro
Preofessor of English
Duke University

Ph.D., Yale University (Co-Winner, Field Prize for Distinguished Humanities Dissertation)
American Literature and Culture, with special expertise in the novel and in the interplay of religion, ethnicity, and the media arts

Professor Ferraro is an aficinado 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 . "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 forthcoming essay, "Boys to Men," examines the street Catholicism of Irish-American charisma, including the untoward and unsuspected sexual chemistries, in the1938 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."

Recent Contributions by Thomas J. Ferraro