“Topics in Italian American Studies,” a free two-night seminar series at Pueblo Union Depot, 132 W. B St., will explore the Italian-American experience from periods of mass emigration to the present.
Marianna Gatto, executive director and cofounder of the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, will lead the series in partnership with Colorado State University Pueblo on Tuesday, Nov. 15 and Thursday, Nov. 17. Both seminars are open to the general public and CSU Pueblo students — who may receive credit for attendance by providing their student ID number.
From 6:30-9 p.m. both nights, lectures and discussions will explore various topics including the forces leading to mass emigration from Italy, discrimination, demographic shifts and the contributions of Italian immigrants to American culture. There will be a 20-minute break period at 7:30 p.m. both nights.
“It is designed for all audiences, not necessarily Italian Americans,” Gatto said. “It draws from a lot of U.S. history — What was going on in the world? What was going on in the nation? How did some other groups also experience the time?”
The earliest Italian immigrants began arriving in what is now the United States by the 17th century, but the largest emigration from the Italian peninsula to the U.S. occurred between 1880 and 1924. Millions of immigrants fled the impoverished villages of post-unification Southern Italy to live in “Little Italies” across the U.S. Immigrants often faced discrimination, harsh labor conditions and other challenges in their new home.
Tuesday night will follow the Italian American story from the colonial period to the beginning of World War II, which was a “transformative event in terms of Italian American identity,” Gatto said. Thursday night will continue the discussion from World War II to the present day. Both nights are structured for both academic and non-academic audiences.
“We will be doing a question and answer period a the end of each seminar,” Gatto said. “I think a lot of the time when people hear the word seminar, they think they need a Ph.D. or something to attend, but it is really going to be accessible and engaging. There will be lots of images. There is probably close to 500 images in the presentation, so there will be lots to look at.”
Members of the community are not required to attend both nights and may RSVP by calling 719-549-2681 or by emailing rsvpcsup@gmail.com.
“CSU Pueblo is very proud to co-sponsor this important educational event,” said Fred Galves, special assistant to the president for community engagement at CSU Pueblo. “Pueblo has a very rich and interesting history and the university believes it is important to reach out and support all the many diverse communities that make up our city.”
Pueblo Chieftain reporter James Bartolo can be reached by email at JBartolo@gannett.com

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