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IASA Executive Council Elections to begin December 15
09 Dec 2015 by Robert Oppedisano

 IASA members are invited to vote for five open seats on the Executive Council,  starting on December 15, 2015, and ending on  December 29. Voting will be on this website. Here are the biographies and state,emts of the six nominees.


IASA 2015-16 Executive Council Nominees


Donna Chirico 
Professor of Psychology and Dean, Arts and Sciences at York College of The City University of New York

My research explores how Italian American identity contributes to psychological development.  I have published and presented in this area including this past year at AATI and delivered an invited lecture to the University of Calabria’s Italian Diaspora Studies Summer School of the John D. Calandra Institute for Italian American Studies.  I am Chair of the Institute’s Italian American Faculty and Staff Advisory Council and President of the Italian Language Inter-Cultural Alliance in the United States.  ILICA is embraces Italian as an international language and Italy as a global culture to promote Italianità in all cultures. I hope to bring this experience and perspective to IASA in its endeavors.


Ryan Calabretta-Sajder 
Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

I teach courses in Italian, Film, and Gender Studies.  I am an Italian American born and raised in Chicago and have had the opportunity to study Italian American literature and cinema as an undergraduate, masters and doctoral student. I am the author of the forthcoming book Divergenze in celluloidi: colore, migrazione e identità sessuale nei film gay di Ferzan Ozpetek (Celluloid Divergences: Color, Migration, and Sexual Identity in the Gay Series of Ferzan Ozpetek) and editor of the forthcoming  Pasolini’s Last Interview: Death, Eros, and Literary Enterprise in the Opus of Pier Paolo Pasolini.  My research interests include the integration of gender, class, and migration in both Italian and Italian American literature and cinema.  My next book project examines the homosexual Italian American author Robert Ferro and his series of gay novels through the lens of gender and class-structure.  

I am currently the Director of Communications for the American Association of Teachers of Italian, the President of Gamma Kappa Alpha, the National Italian Honors Society, and the Co-chair for the Committee of Graduate Students in the Profession for the Modern Language Association.  I received a research grant from the South Central MLA Association to conduct archival research on Italian American authors at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 2015 and attended the Italian Diaspora Summer School through the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute at the University of Calabria. 

I have been a member of IASA and attended the annual conference for last three years.  As an Italian American, Italianist who also works in Italian American Studies, I find the constant misplacement and instability of Italian American Studies unacceptable.  If elected to the Executive Council, one of my main goals would be to better bridge the relationships between the Italian, Italian American, and American Studies worlds, both in North America and in Italy through diverse membership tactics (across professional organizations) and even through a possible joint conference, with a roundtable or two, directly related to discuss these issues faced by our three fields.  

Additionally, I would attempt to find outside funding and create relationships to help lower the overall costs for our conferences and assist in benefiting more while spending less.  Although a challenge, I believe it can be done.  Another objective of mine is to raise the visibility of the organization now that a formal brand and updated website has been created.  The next move would be to expand visibility in other social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, and maybe even sell ‘gear’ with our logo on it.  In this manner, the organization will grab the attention of new, younger members just beginning their careers.  Another way to facilitate fresh membership is to increase membership benefits and co-memberships, in particular for graduate students and contingent faculty.  For example, we could create a reciprocation program with the American Association of Teachers of Italian and the Italian American Studies Association for graduate students; they would only need to pay one membership but would be registered members of both organizations. 


Michele Fazio 

Associate Professor of English, Theatre and Foreign Languages at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

I received my Ph.D. from SUNY-Stony Brook and teach courses on American literature, contemporary U.S. ethnic literature, service-learning, and working-class studies.  I have been an active member of IASA for many years and my work on Italian American literature has appeared in Voices in Italian Americana and MELUS: The Journal of Multi-ethnic Literature of the U.S.  My current research project explores the cultural legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti in literature and music. 

As a member of the Executive Council, I would focus on increasing further networking opportunities at annual conferences for graduate students, junior faculty, and new members as well as fostering collaborations with other academic organizations.



Caroline Pari-Pfisterer 

Department of English, Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York

My contribution to Italian American Studies includes book reviews and essays in VIA  on Italian-American women writers (in the forthcoming anniversary issue as one of the best essays in 25 years).  I have given numerous presentations on Italian-American literature, autobiography, and pedagogy; it is my primary field of research.

I have been teaching Italian American Literature at BMCC since 2010 when the course was created.  I am one of the only ones in the country who teaches the course online, thus inviting a larger student population to take the course, including students  from Belgium, the Caribbean, and many other countries.  By taking an interdisciplinary approach, I’m able to convey the complex history of Italian immigration in this country.  Students not only read the fiction of Italian American authors, but learn of Italy’s past, the Risorgimento, regions, dialects, culture, religion, and beliefs, thus enriching their understanding of the literature.  I am currently writing an essay that reinterprets Pascal D’Angelo’s Son of Italy as an autobiography inscribing a worker identity, above and beyond that of an American identity.  I also plan to complete field research on the role of the Italian American fraternity, Alpha Phi Delta, in the lives of children of Italian immigrants who attended CUNY in the 1940s. 

As an Executive Council member, I hope to contribute to IASA in many ways.  For one, I’d like to help plan the conference. I would also like to help IASA promote the teaching of Italian American literature, and focus on pedagogical approaches, perhaps even creating a handbook on teaching.  I’d like to help IASA create connections nationally and internationally with students, faculty, researchers, writers, organizations and social media.  



Anthony Julian Tamburri 

Distinguished Professor of European Languages and Literatures and Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute (Queens College,  City University of New York). 

His research interests lie in literature, cinema, semiotics, interpretation theory, and cultural studies. He has divided his intellectual work evenly between Italian and Italian/American studies, authoring fourteen books and one hundred essays circa on both subject areas in English and Italian. He is also the editor of more than thirty volumes and special issues of journals. His more recent publications include: authored volumes: Re-reading Italian Americana: Specificities and Generalities on Literature and Criticism (2014; pbk, 2015); Re-viewing Italian Americana: Generalities and Specificities on Cinema (2011); Una semiotica dell’etnicità: nuove segnalature per la scrittura italiano/americana (2010); and Narrare altrove: diverse segnalature letterarie (2007); co-edited volumes: Europe, Italy and the Mediterranean (2014); Italoamericana: The Literature of the Great Migration, 1880-1943, edited by Francesco Durante in Italian (2014); The Cultures of Italian Migration: Diverse Trajectories and Discrete Perspectives (2011); Mediated Ethnicity: New Italian-American Cinema (2010); and the best-selling anthology, From The Margin: Writings in Italian Americana (1991; 2000 2nd edition). He is also a co-founder of Bordighera Press, publisher of Voices in Italian Americana, Italiana, and three book series, VIA Folios, Crossings, and Saggistica, as well as The Bordighera Poetry Prize.

            Tamburri is a member of numerous organizations.  He was a Delegate for Foreign Languages of the Modern Language Association, a member of its Executive Committee for the Division on Modern Italian Literature, and co-founder of the Discussion Group on Italian/American Literature. For the Italian American Studies Association, he was the Newsletter editor for eight years, a member of its Executive Council since 1993, and its president from 2003-2007. He was also vice-president of the American Association of Teachers of Italian for 2006-2007, and served as president for 2008-2009.
              I have served the Italian American Studies Association in various capacities since the early 1990s, first as Newsletter editor from 1993 to 2000. In addition to the usual material, we added two other sections: a review section and a “writing on the wall” section, where we would include members’ comments—a small innovation that opened up channels to the membership at large. 
              As president subsequently and also as long-standing member of the Executive Council, one of my goals was to be sure that the scholarship emanating from our publications continued to develop into more broad fields and, as well, into a type of trans-disciplinarity. When I first join IASA/AIHA in 1987, critical theory, the precursor to cultural studies, was for the most part lacking. While the scholarship was rigorous, it was, in many cases, couched within traditional frameworks that did not always allow room for the theoretical.
I am delighted to say that over the years things have changed, the playing field is much more broad than it was in 1987. But there is still more work we need to do. Most recently, IASA established a refereed publication, IASA Annual. Our  new editor, Robert Oppedisano, will need our help in getting it up and running. Secondly, membership has fallen over the years. We shall have to examine possible reasons, engage in a self-study as to what has changed and how that may have affected membership, and develop a strategy to increase membership. Thirdly, we need to be sure that along with increased membership there is a more broadening of representation of the various fields of inquiry. As implied above, we live in an inter- if not trans-disciplinary world, and we need to be sure that all fields of intellectual interrogation are well represented by and within IASA.



Jessica Femiani 

Doctoral student in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Binghamton University and an adjunct professor at SUNY Broome Community College.

I first became a member of the Italian American Studies Association in 2012. At the 2013 Conference in New Orleans I presented my master's thesis, written under the supervision of Robert Viscusi at Brooklyn College, Polytextual Recovery in Immigration Memoir. In 2014 I worked with former president George Guida to arrange an intergenerational poetry reading, Ten Writers Read, that followed the opening reception at the University of Toronto. As a member of the Conference Committee for this year’s Conference in Washington D.C., I collaborated with colleagues to review proposals and coordinate programming. In D.C. I also presented creative work in Negotiating Transnational Identity, as well as a critical paper The Poetics of Maria Mazziotti Gillan: The Diasporic Condition. Both panels sprung from my work this past summer in the Italian Diaspora Studies Summer School at the University of Calabria, which allowed young scholars to forge connections with one another, and work with leading scholars in the field. 

The opportunity to dialogue is essential and an organized effort must be made to schedule networking opportunities for scholars new to IASA, not only to meet and greet, but also to encourage scholarly collaborations that may assist to increase the presence of Italian Diaspora Studies at other related national conferences: MELUS, NAES, ASA, etc.

Lastly, the recent development of the IASA Annual has created a committee to nominate and select a diverse grouping of established scholars. It is my intention to prioritize women applicants as well as established scholars with a progressive edge.