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America in ItalyThe United States in the Political Thought and Imagination of the Risorgimento, 1763-1865$
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Axel Körner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164854

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164854.001.0001

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A War for Uncle Tom: Slavery and the American Civil War in Italy

A War for Uncle Tom: Slavery and the American Civil War in Italy

(p.199) Chapter Five A War for Uncle Tom: Slavery and the American Civil War in Italy
America in Italy

Axel Körner

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the Italian reception of Giuseppe Rota's ballet Bianchi e Neri (Whites and Blacks), an adaptation of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Bianchi e Neri, which presents the dehumanizing brutality of a slaveholding society, became a major point of reference in Italians' critical assessment of life in the United States. Rota's work inspired comments that reveal the passion with which Italians engaged with issues such as race and slavery across the Atlantic. The chapter considers how Bianchi e Neri transformed the ways in which Italians discussed and imagined the New World. It also explores how the debate on the ballet influenced Italian responses to the unfolding American Civil War, and how the abolition of slavery in America intersected with the Unification of Italy as “one single cause”: a struggle for the good of humankind as a whole.

Keywords:   slavery, Giuseppe Rota, ballet Bianchi e Neri, Uncle Tom's Cabin, New World, American Civil War, America, Italian unification, Italy

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