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Italian Immigrant Radical CultureThe Idealism of the Sovversivi in the United States, 1890-1940$
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Marcella Bencivenni

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814791035

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814791035.001.0001

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(p.221) Conclusion
Italian Immigrant Radical Culture

Marcella Bencivenni

NYU Press

This chapter discusses the ways in which culture informed and sustained the activities of Italian radicals. Newspapers, for instance, represented the central communication link and means of propaganda; lectures and informal schools helped elucidate complex political concepts promoting education and working-class consciousness; dramatic performances, picnics, and dances created and sustained a rich social life for the movement's members while providing the main source of fundraising. Finally, poetry, literature, and art amplified and invigorated the radical dream while also offering radical intellectuals and artists opportunities to express creatively their feelings and aspirations. Looking at Italian American radicalism through the lens of culture offers a better understanding of the idealism and missionary zeal that inspired and moved early-twentieth-century radical leaders and supporters. It shows that besides political change, the sovversivi also aspired to fashion a “revolutionary” culture—in literature, in art, and on the stage—that could change the way people saw the world and how they lived. The chapter concludes that radicalism was shaped not only in response to economic and social conditions but also in relation to the larger culture that Italians brought with them when they migrated to America.

Keywords:   Italian Americans, sovversivi, cultural forms, Italian radicals, culture, radicalism

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