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Ventresca, Robert 1970- (Robert A. Ventresca)

Ventresca, Robert 1970- (Robert A. Ventresca)

PERSONAL:

Born 1970. Education: King's College, graduate; University of Toronto, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Social Science Center, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6A 5C2, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, historian, editor, and educator. University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, assistant professor of history.

WRITINGS:

(Editor, with Franca Iacovetta and Paula Draper) A Nation of Immigrants: Women, Workers, and Communities in Canadian History, 1840s-1960s, University of Toronto Press (Buffalo, NY), 1998.

From Fascism to Democracy: Culture and Politics in the Italian Election of 1948, University of Toronto Press (Buffalo, NY), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS:

Writer, historian, educator, and editor Robert Ventresca is an assistant professor of history at the University of Western Ontario. A number of Ventresca's published works cover issues in Italian history, migration, and women's history. He teaches courses in a variety of historical and political subjects, including the history of fascism, the history of the Holocaust and genocide in the twentieth century, the character of church-state relations in Europe of the twentieth century, and the modern role and presence of the Catholic Church.

With Franca Iacovetta and Paula Draper, Ventresca is the editor of A Nation of Immigrants: Women, Workers, and Communities in Canadian History, 1840s-1960s. "As a university undergraduate course reader, A Nation of Immigrants is very much in need and long overdue. It is an excellent collection of essays and I strongly recommend it to those teaching courses in Canadian Social History and/or Canadian Studies," commented Narinder Brar, writing in the Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal. The book "draws together seventeen previously published and three original articles to serve as a survey text of Canada's ‘the new immigrant history,’" remarked Margaret Conrad, writing in the Journal of Social History. The collection "seeks to challenge our understanding of Canadian history" through works that let readers consider the many aspects of migration and settlement through the perspective of immigrants and minorities who have experienced the travails of leaving one place and heading toward another, Brar noted. The book also stresses the critical "importance of concepts such as class, gender, culture, community and conflict in capturing the multi-faceted nature of social relations and human experience," Brar stated.

The essays in the collection cover topic such as Irish immigrants in nineteenth-century Canada; American blacks who immigrated to Ontario in the nineteenth century; the settling of the Canadian West; bachelor male workers and ideas of gender; the nature of labor and women's work in immigrant Canada; reactions to minorities in the Cold War; and more. Gerald J. Stortz, writing in the Journal of American Ethnic History, called the book a "superb collection." Stortz remarked favorably on the accessible nature of the essays included in the book. "The second reason the collection is praiseworthy is that the editors have gone beyond the major journals to collect material," Stortz commented. In addition, according to Stortz, "This collection is also remarkable in that there is not a single essay that could not stand on its own merit." Conrad concluded that "this anthology, by gathering together the best of recent scholarship, suggests where the next generation of scholars must put their energy."

From Fascism to Democracy: Culture and Politics in the Italian Election of 1948 is "an in-depth study of the social, political, cultural and religious factors contributing to the landslide victory of the Christian Democrats (DC) at the first national elections of the new Italian Republic in April 1948. It is the only complete study of the topic in English, and eclipses studies in any language in its comprehensive coverage," commented Gino Bedani in the Journal of Modern Italian Studies. Ventresca "does a nice job of placing various aspects of the Italian experience into their larger context," commented James Edward Miller in the Journal of Modern History. "He deals with the role of ‘outside actors’ such as the United States and the Vatican; the objectives, strategies, and weaknesses of the major parties; and the propaganda, the electoral campaign, and popular involvement, especially the organization of Catholics to defeat Communism," Miller continued.

Ventresca explores the effect of Italian religious culture on the election and its outcome. He "convincingly disputes the longstanding charge of leftist critics that the Church hierarchy's manipulation of the faithful decisively influenced the outcome of the election," stated Richard Drake in the Canadian Journal of History. "Such manipulation, together with the interfering role played by the United States, certainly occurred, but when Italian Catholics took to the streets in processions for the veneration of Mary and in support of Christian Democracy they did so from deep religious conviction. They genuinely feared atheistic communism," Drake observed. In other areas, Ventresca looks at the election's positive effects on U.S. foreign policy; the ongoing effects of the national parliamentary elections that continue to be felt even in modern times; and important political aspects and repercussions.

In this work, Ventresca "displays the signs of the true historian: an ability to present with sympathy and depth of understanding the viewpoint of the participants on both sides of the divide, a rare and precious commodity," Bedani observed. Miller offered a similar assessment of Ventresca's balanced presentation. "The other great merit of this work is its balance. Ventresca in good measure achieves a level of objectivity. All the participants come in for a fair analysis and merited share of criticism. Their divergent strategies and objectives are carefully and impartially laid out. The complications and difficulties of making public policy are illuminated," Miller stated. Ventresca's many themes "are treated with genuine historical insight in this highly accomplished study," Bedani concluded. Robert Leonardi, writing in Labour/La Travail, called Ventresca's work an "important book on the 1948 elections," the "first of its kind in English," that "reveals many things that other works on Italy's first parliamentary election after the ratification of the 1948 Republican Constitution have not clearly analysed."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, December, 2004, Patrick McCarthy, review of From Fascism to Democracy: Culture and Politics in the Italian Election of 1948, p. 1671.

Canadian Book Review Annual, January, 2004, Graeme S. Mount, review of From Fascism to Democracy, p. 305.

Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal, fall, 1999, Narinder Brar, review of A Nation of Immigrants: Women, Workers, and Communities in Canadian History, 1840s-1960s, p. 165.

Canadian Journal of History, spring-summer, 2006, Richard Drake, review of From Fascism to Democracy, p. 144.

Ethnic and Racial Studies, November, 1999, Caroline Knowles, review of A Nation of Immigrants, p. 1093.

Journal of American Ethnic History, spring, 2000, Gerald J. Stortz, review of A Nation of Immigrants, p. 141.

Journal of Modern History, December, 2005, James Edward Miller, review of From Fascism to Democracy, p. 1127.

Journal of Modern Italian Studies, winter, 2004, Gino Bedani, review of From Fascism to Democracy, p. 498.

Journal of Social History, summer, 2000, Margaret Conrad, review of A Nation of Immigrants, p. 1027.

Labour/Le Travail, fall, 2006, Robert Leonardi, review of From Fascism to Democracy, p. 277.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2004, review of From Fascism to Democracy, p. 42.

ONLINE

University of Western Ontario Web site,http://www.uwo.ca/ (April 22, 2008), author profile.

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