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Crossing Ocean Parkway

Growing up an Italian-American in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of New York city, Marianna De Marco longed for college, culture, and upward mobility. Her daydreams circled around WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) heroes on television—like Robin Hood and the Cartwright family—but in Brooklyn she never encountered any. So she associated moving up with Ocean Parkway, a street that divides the working-class Italian neighborhood where she was born from the middle-class Jewish neighborhood into which she married. This book is Torgovnick’s unflinching account of crossing cultural boundaries in American life, of what it means to be an Italian American woman who became a scholar and literary critic.

Included are autobiographical moments interwoven with engrossing interpretations of American cultural icons from Dr. Dolittle to Lionel Trilling, The Godfather to Camille Paglia. Her experiences allow her to probe the cultural tensions in America caused by competing ideas of individuality and community, upward mobility and ethnic loyalty, acquisitiveness and spirituality.

187 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1994, 1996

Biography and Letters

Culture Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Table of Contents

Pt. 1: Crossing Ocean Parkway
1: On Being White, Female, and Born in Bensonhurst 3
2: Crossing Ocean Parkway 19
3: Slasher Stories 35
4: The College Way 59
Pt. 2: Readings by an Italian American Daughter
5: Dr. Dolittle and the Acquisitive Life 75
6: The Paglia Principle 91
7: The Godfather as the World’s Most Typical Novel 109
8: The Politics of the "We" 137


Before Columbus Foundation: American Book Award

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