Celebrating one of the most important Italian American female authors of our time, Personal Effects offers a lucid view of Louise DeSalvo as a writer who has produced a vast and provocative body of memoir writing, a scholar who has enriched our understanding of Virginia Woolf, and a teacher who has transformed countless lives. More than an anthology, Personal Effects represents an author case study and an example for modern Italian American interdisciplinary scholarship.
Personal Effects examines DeSalvo’s memoirs as works that push the boundaries of the most controversial genre of the past few decades. In these works, the author fearlessly explores issues such as immigration, domesticity, war, adultery, illness, mental health, sexuality, the environment, and trauma through the lens of gender, ethnic, and working-class identity. Alongside her groundbreaking scholarship, DeSalvo’s memoirs attest to the power and influence of this feminist Italian American writer.
Introduction: “Habit of Mind” 1
Nancy Caronia and Edvige Giunta
Louise DeSalvo’s “Even in Death, La Bella Figura”: A Meditation on Honor, Respect, and the Silences That Bind 37
The Poetics of Trauma: Intertextuality, Rhythm, and Concision in Vertigo and Writing as a Way of Healing 50
Fixing and Fictioning: Memory and Catholicism in Vertigo 62
Portrait of the Mother as a Writer and Researcher 75
Louise DeSalvo: Essaying Memoir 86
On Vulnerability and Risk: Learning to Write and Teach Memoir as a Student of Louise DeSalvo 105
Fixing Things: What Louise DeSalvo Has Taught Me about Writing 111
Dark Whiteness and Literacy without Assimilation: DeSalvo’s Unlikely Narrative 117
Kimberly A. Costino
Mixing Bowl: On Crazy in the Kitchen, DeSalvo in the Classroom, and the Day I Got into Hunter 130
Furthering the Voyage: Reconsidering DeSalvo in Contemporary Woolf Studies 140
Benjamin D. Hagen
The Context of Louise DeSalvo’s Impact: Incest in Virginia Woolf’s Biography 155
“Thirty- seven Is the Unraveling Time” and Other Fictions of Fidelity in the Works of Louise DeSalvo 169
Life Online: Skating and Breaking the Surface of the Self 179
Amy Jo Burns
The Fruits of Her Labor: Louise DeSalvo’s Memoirs of Food and Family 189
Mary Jo Bona and Jennifer-Ann DiGregorio Kightlinger
Mapping the Female Ethnic Self in the Family Battleground: Vertigo and the Greek American Novel 210
DeSalvo’s Rialto: On Moving as a Livable Bridge 222
The Knife and the Bread, the Brutal and the Sacred: Louise DeSalvo at the Family Table 233
Afterword. Crazy in the Study: Trying to Claim a Tradition in Louise DeSalvo’s Accented Writing 251
Anthony Julian Tamburri
List of Contributors 261
“A very important contribution in the field of Italian American studies, ethnic studies, cultural studies, feminist studies, literary studies in general, and studies on the memoir in particular. Personal Effects explores Louise DeSalvo’s work as a memoir writer, teacher, and scholar, illustrating the contribution Italian American authors can give both to Italian culture and to American culture and literature.”
Sapienza Università di Roma
Wide-ranging, sophisticated,and stylish, Personal Effects is both a brilliant tribute to a powerful scholar-memoirist and a significant contribution to Italian-American studies and cultural studies more generally. It is a collection to savor!
—Sandra Mortola Gilbert
author of The Culinary Imagination
The essays in Personal Effects do more than bear witness to the extraordinary achievement of Louise DeSalvo; they extend and amplify her inquiry into the nature of self, the politics of identity, the consequences of trauma. No study of memoir, of biography, of the role of literary criticism in the understanding of our time, can be complete without this multifaceted colloquy. Like the work of DeSalvo herself, this is a book of heartfelt intelligence and brilliant passion.
author of Half the House, and Love & Fury
“Personal Effects is a significant contribution to DeSalvo scholarship. It is a stunning example of the power of blending literary and cultural criticism with creative nonfiction.”
—Roseanne Giannini Quinn
With equal parts scholarship and creativity, Personal Effects penetrates the diversity and importance of DeSalvo's body of work. These thoughtful, disquieting, and insightful essays perfectly mirror the very essence of this vital American author.
author of With or Without You
The hard work, imagination, diligence, creativity, and exemplary self-discipline that underpin DeSalvo’s Woolf scholarship also shape her excavations and the resulting memoirs... This volume should be of interest to all whose own scholarly work on Virginia Woolf has been inspired and sustained by Louise DeSalvo.
Virginia Woolf Miscellany