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Leaving Little Italy explores the various forces that have shaped and continue to mold Italian American culture. Early chapters offer a historical survey of major developments in Italian American culture, from the early mass immigration period to the present day, situating these developments within the larger framework of American culture as a whole. Subsequent chapters examine particular works of Italian American literature and film from a variety of perspectives, including literary history, gender, social class, autobiography, and race. Paying particular attention to how the individual artist's personality has intersected with community in the shaping of Italian American culture, the book reveals how and why Italian America was invented and why Little Italys must ultimately disappear.