With the passing of Italian Americana co-founder, Dr. Bruno A. Arcudi, the Italian-American community has lost a prominent scholar and educator. Born June 9, 1923 in Westport, CT, Arcudi was the son of Italian immigrants Carmelo and Mary (Passa ume) Arcudi. He graduated from Staples High School in 1941 and then from Yale in 1944 in an accelerated program. After graduating from Yale, Arcudi enlisted in the Army Airforce, serving as a B-24 Navigator during World War II. After the war, he returned to Westport where he would help establish the community’s new high school in 1958, serving as chairman of Westport’s Board of Education while also pursuing his PhD at Yale.
He went on to teach at Yale, Rutgers, and the University of California at Berkley before serving his country again in the USIA in Brazil and Italy. He returned to the United States in 1965 to resume his teaching career at the State University of New York at Buffalo where he was a Professor of Italian and Italian literature. He taught at UB for nearly thirty years, serving for a time as the head of the Italian Department before retiring in 1993.
Arcudi’s contribution to the Italian-American community ranged from critical scholarship to the teaching of Italian language and literature, serving for a time on the National Committee for the Promotion of Italian in 1965. From 1972–1975, Arcudi served as President of the American Association of Teachers of Italian, where he was further advancing critical scholarship in the field and helping to make innovations in the pedagogy of the Italian language.
His scholarship, which investigated the work of Alessandro Tassoni and the intellectual movement of the Sceicento, was published in prominent journals of the field, such as Forum Italicum (“Machiavelli: Source of Anti-Intellectualism in Tassoni” 1967 and “Sceinto Doubts About Homer” 1973), Italica (“A Seicento View of Divine Comedy” 1966), and Italian Quarterly (“A Sceicento Reppraisal of Trencento” 1971).
Along with Ernest Falbo and Richard Gambino, Arcudi co-founded the journal Italian Americana in 1974, while a Professor of Italian and Italian Literature at SUNY at UB. The journal, a rarity in its day, added, as Arcudi put it, “a new and fertile dimension to Italian scholarship,” being one of the few academic journals devoted to the Italian-American experience in the new world.
After Falbo’s death in 1975, Arcudi would take over as editor of the journal, along with Richard Gambino, before handing editorship over to Carol Albright in 1989. He would remain with the journal as an associate editor until 2013.
Arcudi’s lifetime of service inspires us at Italian Americana, and we are grateful for the platform he helped found to explore the Italian-American experience.