Francesco De Salvatore

Francesco De Salvatore

Francesco De Salvatore entered the Ph.D. program in 2019. He is a historian of emotions, race, politics, and urban America. He is specifically interested in the affective life of U.S. urban politics and race-making in the late 20th century. His project seeks to examine populism and vigilantism in New York City and the political rise of Rudy Giuliani. By closely examining the cultural landscape of the late 20th century, and the daily routines and interactions of urban residents, he hopes to uncover how individuals and groups developed and enacted their affective states throughout the 1970’s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Ultimately, this project attempts to better understand the affective ecosystem of right-wing politics in urban America and interrogate the role of affect in political movements.

Prior to pursuing a Ph.D., Francesco obtained a B.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Criticism from DePaul University, where he developed his interest in oral history through his work in community devised theatre. Afterwards, he began working as an oral historian and community engagement associate at StoryCorps. Francesco later went on to manage an oral history program at The National Public Housing Museum. These experiences led him to obtain a M.A. in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he studied the historical formation of right-wing populism in an Italian-American community in the Westside of Chicago.

Student Spotlight

What are you studying/working on right now?

At the moment I am happily slogging through coursework, which is immersing me in the history of racial capitalism, American political thought, and the scopes and methods of American Studies. Additionally, I am starting to research the painful story of Yusuf Hawkins, who was murdered by a mob of white teenagers in New York City’s Bensonhurst in 1989.

Where/what did you study as an undergraduate? 

I studied Dramaturgy and Criticism at DePaul University.

Why American Studies and why GW?

Throughout my educational and professional experiences in theatre, media, and museums, I have always worked in an interdisciplinary manner. Consequently, my decision to pursue a Ph.D. in American Studies was an easy one. I draw a lot of inspiration from being around people who are working in different disciplines. What specifically drew me to GW’s American Studies department was its faculty members. Many of them have deeply shaped my thinking around race, affect, and urban and political history, so I am excited to be mentored by them.

What piece of advice would you give, or what piece of advice has been most influential to you, about living around GW/Washington, D.C.? 

Watch out for the cockroaches in D.C.! They are big and they can fly!

Is there one book/piece of media that inspired you to pursue the field of American Studies? If so, which one and why? 

Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight by Eric Avila

If you were tasked with introducing yourself to a person only by recommending to them one film, which would you choose and why? 

8 1/2 by Federico Fellini

Imagine you're up to bat as a Major League Baseball player. You need a walk-up song. Which would you choose? 

"Tu Vuò Fa' L'Americano" by Renato Caroson