Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thomas Slater, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ronald Emerick, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Susan Gatti, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Fred Gardaphé, Ph.D.


This dissertation reveals a cultural issue within contemporary American society that has been progressing since the late 1880s with the emergence of Italian immigrants. Upon entering into America, Italians had little power in their new culture. They were admitted, grudgingly, and even before they were permitted to step out the doors of the transit center, they were categorized as something "other than white." American writers and filmmakers, some of Italian ethnicity, have recreated the concept of an authentic Italian-American identity. As a result, they have also rewritten Italian-American history to conform to the motion picture and television world of Italian-Americans where Italian-American males have been negatively and damagingly stereotyped as organized criminals, palookas, buffoons, orphans, and hoods. I concentrate on the many stereotypes that abound throughout the history of the Italian-American male on screen such as the criminal, the über masculine, and the redemptive. I further explain the tenets of post-colonial elements that result in furthering my ideas of Inter-Colonialism where Italian-American males in film and television are treated. Inter-Colonialism aims to serve as a theoretical construct that offers a way to focus discussions concerning the oppressive treatment Italians endured in America since immigrating to this country. Within this construct, conversations are able to flourish in an organized manner concerning images and representations of Italians in America specifically through film and television. Ultimately, my work suggests that viewers need to be able to read these uninformed ethnic depictions of Italian-Americans or third and fourth generation Italian-Americans stand to lose their own identities to the popular, commodified image of the Italian American.