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Fred Louis Gardaphe
Fred Louis Gardaphe
Distinguished Professor of English and Italian American Studies
Queens College/City University of New York

Class of 1973

How has Triton College made an impact on your life?
I had dropped out of college because my freshman experience elsewhere was so alienating that I felt distant from what was being taught. Even though I had gone to a great college preparatory high school, Fenwick, I needed Triton to help me ease my way into becoming an intellectual during a time when I had to work full time and could not leave my home. What I learned at Triton, both in the classroom and through my friendships, helped me to overcome my early racism and prejudices, and to understand that the more I learned about others, the more I could know about myself.

Fred Gardaphe was born in Chicago and raised in Melrose Park, Illinois. His grandparents on his mother’s side emigrated from Bari, Italy. On his father’s side, his grandmother’s family emigrated from Calabria, his grandfather’s family from Canada and France. He earned an Associate of Arts degree from Triton College (1973), a Bachelor of Science degree in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1976), a Master’s degree in English at the University of Chicago (1982) and his Ph.D. in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago (1993).

A leading expert in the field, Fred Gardaphe is Distinguished Professor of English and Italian American Studies. He directs the Italian American Studies Program at Queens College, City University of New York and also works at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute. Previously he helped to create the Italian American Studies program at Stony Brook University that he directed from 1998-2008. He taught five years at the high school level before taking a position in English and Educational Studies at Columbia College in Chicago. At Columbia College he created and taught writing and literature courses and courses in Italian American film and literature from 1978-1998.

Gardaphe is Associate Editor of Fra Noi, an Italian American monthly newspaper, editor of the Series in Italian American Studies at State University of New York Press, and co-founding, co-editor of Voices in Italian Americana, a literary journal and cultural review. He is past President of the American Italian Historical Association (1996-2000), and served as Vice President of the Italian Cultural Center in Stone Park, IL from 1992-1998. He is also past President of MELUS: The Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States and the Working Class Studies Association.

His edited books include: New Chicago Stories, Italian American Ways, Shades of Black and White: Conflict and Collaboration Between Two Communities, Cultures, Communities and the Arts, From the Margin: Writings in Italian Americana, Italian Ethnics: Their Languages, Literature and Lives and Anti-Italianism. He has written two one-act plays: Vinegar and Oil, produced by the Italian/American Theatre Company in 1987, and Imported from Italy, produced by Zebra Crossing Theater in 1991. His study, Italian Signs, American Streets: The Evolution of Italian American Narrative, based on his dissertation that won the Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli/Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs award for 1993 dissertations, and published by Duke University Press in 1996; it was named an Outstanding Academic Book for 1996 by Choice. He has also published Dagoes Read: Tradition and the Italian/American Writer and Moustache Pete is Dead!: Italian/American Oral Tradition Preserved in Print. Other books include: Leaving Little Italy: Essaying Italian American Studies, From Wiseguys to Wise Men: Masculinities and the Italian American Gangster and The Art of Reading Italian Americana. He is the recipient of a 2011 Fulbright Senior Lectureship at the University of Salerno, Italy, and is currently at work on a novel and a study of humor and irony in Italian American culture. His reviews of Italian American culture regularly appear on i-Italy television.

Professor Gardaphe has two children, Frederico and Marianna. He is “nonno” to two grandchildren, Michaelangelo and Anthony.