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Woman: Joanna Herman

Joanna Herman
New York, NY


Author and Professor, Creative Writing, Manhattanville College & The Center for Worker Education, CCNY

Marital Status

BA, English, Boston University; MA, American Studies, City College of New York

Her Fab Quotient

I often say that I was born in 1944 but raised in the 15th century, because although I was born in Waterbury, CT, a New England factory town, post-WWII, I grew up in a large southern Italian family where the rules were absolute, and customs antiquated. My sister and I were doing the jitterbug to Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene” coming from the radio on the kitchen counter, my father was singing Nat King Cole songs in the shower and my grandfather was singing "Vicin' 'O Mare," and "Non sona più la sveglia" under the grape arbor.

Similar but different

I was born in Naples, Italy. My father was a first generation Italian-American whose parents came from a small town in Calabria (the toe of the boot).

My mother was a city girl who nearly finished her education to be a primary school teacher and whose father was a musician. Cultural differences existed among the Italian family members-- city vs. country as well as Italian vs. American. My father, however, encouraged all of four of his children (3 daughters and 1 son) to go to college.