Campus continues Italian Heritage Series with author Mark Rotella

Penn State Worthington Scranton will host Mark Rotella, author of Amore, The Story of Italian American Song, on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at noon in the Study Learning Center's Sherbine Lounge. The program is free and open to the public.

The lecture is part of the campus' Italian Heritage Series, started last year and made possible thanks to a permanent endowment established by the Scranton Chapter of UNICO National.

Amore is Mr. Rotella's celebration of the Italian Decade -- the years after the war and before the Beatles, when Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett, among others, won the hearts of the American public with a smooth, stylish, classy brand of pop.

Mr. Rotella tells the stories behind 40 Italian American classics (from O Sole Mio, Night and Day, and Mack the Knife to Volare and I Wonder Why) and shows how a musical tradition became the soundtrack of postwar America and the expression of a sense of style that is still cherished today.

His book follows the music from the opera houses and piazzas of southern Italy, to the barrooms of the Bronx and Hoboken, to the Copacabana, the Paramount Theatre, and the Vegas Strip. He shows the hardworking musicians whose voices were to become ubiquitous on jukeboxes and the radio and whose names have become bywords for Italian American success, even as they were dogged by stereotypes and prejudice.

This program is part of a six-part series that is funded through a permanent endowment established by the Scranton Chapter of UNICO National. The endowment specifically funds a three-tiered program in Italian Studies, Heritage and Culture at Worthington Scranton that focuses on academics, co-curricular and out-of-classroom experiences, as well as community outreach.

It is designed to complement the campus' existing cultural offerings in Spanish, French, German and Chinese, while expanding learning opportunities for students and community members interested in furthering their knowledge of Italian culture and heritage.

 UNICO National is an Italian American, membership-based service organization that works to increase the prestige of the Italian American community through its activities and volunteer efforts in the community and for various charities, as well as scholarship awards, fundraising efforts and holiday observances.

 Penn State Worthington Scranton and the Scranton Chapter of UNICO National have enjoyed a very positive relationship for the past several years by virtue of an endowed scholarship the group created in 2002. This fund has been of tremendous assistance in helping local students pursue a Penn State education close to home.

Mr. Rotella is also the author of Stolen Figs and Other Adventures in Calabria and wrote the introduction to the classic Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Salon, Washington Post, Village Voice, Saveur, and American Heritage, among others. A senior editor at Publishers Weekly, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and their two children.

For more information about his upcoming appearance at Penn State Worthington Scranton, call 570-963-2536.  The next lecture in this series is scheduled for November 17.