Republics and empires

Italian and American art in transnational perspective, 1840–1970

Melissa Dabakis
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Paul H. D. Kaplan
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"Republics and empires showcases transnational perspectives that address the significance of Italy for American art and visual culture while outlining the impact of the United States on Italian art and popular culture. Covering the period from the Risorgimento to the Cold War, this collection of chapters illuminates the complexity of the visual discourses that bound two relatively new nations together. It also pays substantial attention to literary and critical texts that addressed the evolving cultural relationship between Italy and the United States.

Taking into account the significant historical events that linked Italy and the United States, Part I: ‘Hybrid Republicanisms’ and Part II: ‘The Courses of Empire’ highlight important cross-cultural issues. The first section concentrates on the shared notions of republicanism and tyranny that animated American and Italian politics in the long nineteenth century. Rather imperfectly, both nations attempted to bind a community of diverse peoples together on the common values of liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness. The second exposes how the liberal tendencies of nationalism gave way to imperial ambition, and how this transition was given visual and cultural form in Italian and American high art and popular culture.

The anthology serves as a valuable introduction to American-Italian cultural relations. Its fourteen historicised case studies by Italian and American scholars trace how gender, race, ethnicity, and class interests intersect with the powerful political and cultural dynamics of both nations.

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