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October 24, 2018 The Signal page 7

Mafia-tied gangsters have historical roots

Gardaphé discusses celebrated mafia members like Al Capone. By Camille Furst News Assistant

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Women in Learning Leadership program sponsored a seminar titled “The Gangster: From Ancient Archetype To American Obsession,” on Oct. 8 in the Library Auditorium. With the help of Fred Gardaphé, a professor of English and Italian-American studies at Queens College, the event taught students how and why the gangster figure has become so prevalent in the U.S., why gangsters are stereotypically portrayed as Italian-American and how it reflects manhood in American culture. Gardaphé, who has conducted research for more than 30 years and written multiple books on how the gangster became a pivotal and influential American icon, grew up in Melrose Park, a predominantly Italian-American suburb of Chicago. He began his speech by discussing his personal connection to the topic of gangsters. Recalling his life in Chicago, Gardaphé felt personally affected by the violence of gangsters. “Living in a neighborhood of Chicago, violence was

Meagan McDowell / Photo Editor

not only common, but expected,” Gardaphé said. “If it were not for reading, I would’ve become a gangster. This I know for a fact.” In high school, he began researching about the Italian mafia, specifically the Valachi Papers, a book chronicling the lives of real mafia members. Gardaphé recalled one moment at a work party for the restaurant where he was employed when his boss asked him what he was reading and he replied, “The Valachi Papers.: As it turned out, Gardaphé’s co-workers were members of his neighborhood’s mafia and he was staring at the same people he was reading about. “Everyone stopped talking and turned to look at me,” Gardaphé said. “I immediately realized that there were men in that room who had their names in that book.” Once Gardaphé realized how connected he was to the mafia, he further pursued his interest in researching the historic figure of the gangster. After his years of research, Gardaphé came to the conclusion that the figure of the gangster is ingrained in the history of American culture. “The gangster represents the last stand for patriarchy in

America, and a chance for Americans to live in an unknown past as we head into an unknown future,” Gardaphé said. He further argued that the gangster figure was always molded to fit whatever pleased the American public the most. Films such as the Godfather portrayed the gangster as a heroic protagonist –– gangsters in the U.S. then imitated this representation. “The real gangster started imitating the characters in the Godfather films,” Gardaphé said. “After a generation, you could hardly tell the difference between the real and the artificial gangster.” The transformation of fact into fiction and vice versa led Gardaphé into a discussion about why the Gangster has always played such a pivotal role American culture. He said that the gangster figure has been previously portrayed as a hero who overcomes poverty, discrimination and other societal bias. With popular Italian-American gangsters such as Al Capone rising out of poverty, Gardaphé claimed they “captured popular imagination” throughout the U.S. The legacy of these valiant gangsters were cemented in films and television shows during the 1990s and 2000s with movies such as Goodfellas and shows like the Sopranos. “The figure that first appeared in newspaper reels and newspapers of the 1920s has grown to heroic proportions,” Gardaphé said. “Americans –– especially Italian-Americans –– must understand why contemporary America needs the gangster, and why it needs to be an Italian-American.” Gardaphé explained how Americans have singled and labeled foreigners as the antagonists. He explained that during the 1980s, Former President Ronald Reagan would call the Soviet Union the “evil empire.” Gardaphé also explained how the figure of the gangster continually reflected cultural perceptions of manhood. The gangster figure, as portrayed through the media as a hero rising from poverty, transformed the ideal masculinity of male honor to violence and aggressive behavior. “After all, for centuries, a man’s honor was measured in terms of his ability to deal with violence,” Gardaphé said. Gardaphé stated that this misrepresentation of manhood has played a role in his personal life as well. “Many of us young Italian-American boys became so infatuated with the attention given to Italian-American criminals that we found our ways of gaining that notoriety and power,” he said. “I want men to think differently of themselves.”

SFB fully funds pro-life lecture in Kendall Hall By Garrett Cecere Staff Writer Seven organizations were fully funded and two were partially funded at the Student Finance Board meeting on Oct. 10. TCNJ Students for Life was fully funded $2,070 for its event, Lies Pro-Choice Politicians Tell, at which Kristan Hawkins, president of the Students for Life of America, will be speaking about the pro-life movement. TCNJ Students For Life expressed in its proposal how the College has not recently hosted prolife speaker on campus, and this event will allow people who are pro-life to feel more represented, as well as give pro-choice people a chance to hear a new perspective. The event will take place on Nov. 7 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Kendall Hall. SFB will be covering expenses such as student technicians, student ushers, expendable supplies, Campus Police, a student house manager, Hawkin’s speaking fee, note cards and pens. Barkada was fully funded $4,440.55 for Barangay 2018. The event will be co-sponsored by the Association of Students for Africa, Sigma Lambda Beta and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for purposes including set-up,

clean-up, service and publicity. The event provides FilipinoAmerican students an outlet to join together and celebrate their culture, according to the proposal. SFB will be covering expenses for the performers, Project D and aReJay Ella, a banner, sound technicians, attendance bracelets, tablecloths, decorations, balloons, helium tanks, cups, plates, napkins, utensils, food and beverages. The event will be held on Nov. 10 from 7:30-11 p.m. in the Brower Student Center Room 100. TCNJ Musical Theatre was partially funded $17,922.50 for its production of Little Shop of Horrors. The first time the organization put on the production was in 2008, when it began holding fall shows. “We’ve had this event for the past 10 years,” said Alex Hanneman, a junior chemistry major and treasurer of TMT. SFB will cover expenses for the set, technical design materials, costumes, sound, lights, rentals for instruments and an accompanist, hair and makeup, stage management, programs, props and Kendall staff charges. The show is scheduled to take place on Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Don Evans Black

Box Theater. The Student New Jersey Education Association was fully funded $2,838 for bus trips to the New Jersey Education Association Convention at the Atlantic City Convention Center on Nov. 8 and Nov. 9. SFB will cover expenses for the fee for the two buses. The trip will be co-sponsored by the School of Education, the Kappa Delta Pi education honor society and Friendship and Unity for Special Education. More than 300 workshops,

seminars and programs will be offered to the students at the convention center. “It’s the New Jersey union for teachers,” said Shelly Rasnitsyn, a junior special education and iSTEM double major and treasurer of the Student New Jersey Education Association. “You’re there with actual teachers and principals and counselors.” Student Government was fully funded $4,705 for Homecoming Spirit Week expenses that were previously tabled on Oct. 3. The expenses include a photo

booth, an electrician and additional lighting and sound for the Lip Sync and Dance. The photo booth at the TShirt Giveaway will serve as another way to promote school spirit and allow students to have something that will help them remember the week and the good time they had with friends, according to SG’s proposal. Hillel was partially funded $4,200 for its Shabbat and Havdalah Experience. see BOARD page 8

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The board partially funds TMT’s production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’.

Profile for TCNJ Signal

The Signal: Fall '18 No. 8  

The 10/24/18 issue of The Signal, The College of New Jersey's student newspaper

The Signal: Fall '18 No. 8  

The 10/24/18 issue of The Signal, The College of New Jersey's student newspaper

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