Christopher Columbus standing next to a rock with 2 men behind him. One is holding a cross.

Credit: Landing of Christopher Columbus by David Edwin. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of International Business Machines Corporation, is licensed under CC0.

Resource Description

This module enables students to reflect critically and in an historically informed way on how Christopher Columbus has come to signify both belonging and exclusion in the United States. The two-week module explores four discrete themes: colonization, focusing on the four voyages and their immediate consequences; the mythical female figure of Columbia in the U.S.; the creation and circulation of Columbus as an Italian American icon; and the recent protests and debates concerning statues and other commemorative images and rituals. The material includes essays by historians and folklorists, journalistic coverage, Columbus' own writings, sample protest petitions, and examples from popular culture. These resources offer perspectives on the protest movements of 2020 that brought to fore fundamental questions about America itself.

This resource is part of the following program: Redesigning Modernities.



Download Resource Files

You can download the resource files here: Christopher Columbus: Commemoration and Controversy
Anthony Bak Buccitelli headshot

Anthony Bak Buccitelli is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Communications at the Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg. He currently serves as Director of the Penn State's Center for Folklore, coordinator of its Graduate Certificate in Folklore and Ethnography, and editor of the international journal Western Folklore.

Maria Truglio headshot

Maria Truglio is a Professor of Italian and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Penn State (University Park). She earned her BA from Wesleyan University in 1992, and her MA (1996) and PhD (2001) from Yale University. Her research investigates Italian literature from the nineteenth century to the present day with attention to questions of gender and national identity formation. She is currently focusing on the field of children's literature, bringing psychoanalytic, post-structuralist, and postcolonial methodologies to bear on texts written for young people from the unification period forward.

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