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President's Perspective

President's Perspective - Italian American Studies Association

2020: Support IASA, It's Take Deductible

Dear IASA members,

As many of you know, the Association had to postpone its Lucca Symposium (May 2020) and Pittsburgh Conference (November 2020) to May 2021 and October 20201, respectively. At the same time, we did not want to lose the momentum of our scholarly meetings over the last several years, so, based on suggestions by Ryan Calabretta-Sajder and Courtney Ruffner, we have started monthly Zoom webinars. We opened with “What Does the Future Have in Store for the Italian American Studies Association” on May 22. We have also scheduled our second session, “Italian Americans on Screen: Reception of Black American Films, Italian-American Female Filmmakers, and Italian Immigrant Cinema in Canada,” for this Friday, June 19, at noon EST.

With the success of our first Zoom webinar, the Association realized that hosting monthly virtual presentations could provide an opportunity to generate revenue by having attendees who can donate. Therefore, we have shifted our focus to Donation Campaigns. Since we included the link to Donation Campaigns in our most recent email to those wishing to attend the next webinar, there have been several issues. The Association is working with our Management Software Company, SilkStart, to resolve them.

For example, some members wanted to donate to more than one campaign, such as the Book Award, General Fund, Memorial Fellowship, and/or Travel Grant. Second, some members wanted to enter the amount donated rather than choosing an amount. Third, we have always used PayPal for members to renew membership and/or donate via a credit card; however, PayPal can get glitchy if someone pays their renewal automatically. The Association is working on these issues and will send a follow-up email to the membership regarding the solutions.

On July 22 at 3:00 PM, Jonathan J. Cavallero will present, “Directing The Sopranos: David Chase, Lorraine Senna, and the Visual.”

Additionally, we are working on the schedule for the remainder of 2020. We have our pedagogy presentation in August with Josephine Gattuso Hendin and Phil Sipiora and a queer Italian diaspora panel with Ryan Calabretta-Sajder and Domenico Beneventi in October. We have several other Zoom webinars in the works, including ones on creative writing and Italian-American women’s literature.

Other membership projects that the Association hopes to implement this summer include interviews with all past IASA (formerly AIHA) presidents. We are also considering a contest for current members to submit creative work for an IASA 2021 calendar.

Thank you for your attention, and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are looking for ways to get more involved in the many vibrant committees that bolster our Association.

Best wishes for good work and good health in the weeks and months ahead,

Alan J. Gravano

IASA, President


IASA 2018 Conference: Venue Change

Dear Membership,

In an effort to keep our membership informed of EC decisions and activities, we want to inform the Membership that our Chicago 2018 conference will not be held at Loyola University as planned.  While we had accepted the proposal by Associate Dean for Faculty Arthur Lurigio to hold it at Loyola, he recently withdrew the opportunity following our reaction (via emails and also at our recent conference’s Business Meeting) to a singular but negative situation happening currently there; Loyola’s refusal to recognize their student’s union and sit at the bargaining table with them despite the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB's) decision that recognizes graduate students as workers.

More information about the student’s grievance is here:

The college’s official stance is here:

Scroll down to, “Our Position on Graduate Student Unionization”

Since being made aware of this situation late last month, the IASA EC had a vote and is of the majority opinion to not hold a conference at a location where such violation of graduate students’ rights is taking place, and support the aggrieved graduate students of Loyola University. Furthermore, IASA EC will endeavor to not hold a conference anywhere else where labor and union rights are being violated. Our Italian American history of unionization, immigrant laborers, and workers’ rights makes taking this position all the more compelling.

While there may have been a chance since returning from the conference (where it was brought up at the Business Meeting) to discuss this further with the Association, even bringing it to a vote to the Membership, Loyola’s polite refusal to have us there negates this necessity. As we look for an alternate venue, also in Chicago, we hope this communiqué brings the issue into clarity and hopefully full support of our actions.


Alan J. Gravano, IASA President

IASA, Executive Council


Alan J. Gravano, PhD

Dear IASA Colleagues,

2017 represents the 50 year anniversary of the founding of the American Italian Historical Association (AIHA), which is now the Italian American Studies Association (IASA). To celebrate this enormous achievement, we are having a symposium in Calabria, Italy June 15-18 and a conference in Washington, DC in conjunction with NIAF November 2-4.

 "Theorizing Italian Diaspora Studies" is the title of our Italian American Studies Association Summer 2017 Calabria Symposium. We are pleased to announce that Anthony Julian Tamburri, Distinguished Professor of European Languages and Literatures and Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute at CUNY/Queens College, will present his keynote entitled, "Re-appropriating the Forget-me-nots: The [Mis-]state of Affairs of Italian/American Studies." In addition, Margherita Ganeri, Professor of Contemporary Italian Literature at Universita della Calabria, will give her keynote called, "Italian American Studies and Italy: Theorizing the Birth of a New Union."  The symposium will occur during the Italian Diaspora Studies Summer Program and include a tour of Calabria based on Helen Barolini's Umbertina.

I am happy to share that the symposium program has been finalized and is available online; the total number of participants is 50. On Friday, June 16 we have two workshops: "Theorizing Italian Diaspora Studies" led by Mary Jo Bona and Anthony Julian Tamburri and "Creating, Sustaining, Promoting, and Building Italian American Studies (Programs, Relationships, and Funding Opportunities)" led by Clorinda Donato and Luisa Del Giudice. On Saturday, June 17 we have the final two workshops: "Teaching Italian American Studies" led by Donna Chirico and Fred Gardaphe and "Publishing in Italian American Studies" led by Peter Covino and Alan Gravano. In addition, we have "Creative Writing in the Italian Diaspora: Poetry Readings" by Anthony Mitzel, Giovanna Riccio, and Peter Covino with translations of Covino's poetry by UniCal graduate students. We are having three short screenings: Circe Sturm's Texas Tavola: A Taste of Sicily in the Lone Star State, DJ Higgins's Pasquale's Magic Veal, and Elisabetta D'Amanda's As Good as Bread

For the summation of events in 2017 celebrating 50 years of Italian American studies, we are having our annual conference in Washington, DC entitled: "Faith, (Ir)reverence, and the Italian Diaspora: Fifty years of Italian American Studies." We are excited to announce that Robert Orsi, Professor of Religious Studies and History and Grace Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies at Northwestern University, will be our keynote speaker. We are planning one or more panels on his groundbreaking book, The Madonna of 115th Street, published in 1985. We are planning a Meet & Greet for graduate students attending the conference. In addition, we are moving our Business Meeting to Friday in order to have greater participation by our membership. 

Please remember, our 2018 conference will be at Loyola University Chicago Thursday, October 18 through Saturday, October 20, and our 2020 conference will be co-hosted by the John Heinz History Center and the University of Pittsburgh. I hope to see everyone at one or more of these events.  

Thank you, 

Alan Gravano, President

Italian American Studies Association


Letters and Statements Regarding Turkish Higher Education

Below is the link that includes the Italian American Studies Association standing with others regarding the situation in Turkey. Please click on the link below to read the letters and statements: