Beautiful Words for Beautiful Girls

This past October, Professor of English Lisa Lebduska had her short story “Belle Ragazze” published in the Tishman Review. The story follows two Italian-American girls growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940’s.

Lebduska’s inspiration came from observing that many well-known stories about Italian-Americans feature the mafia, and from the male perspective at that.

“I wanted to counter that, to consider the lives of women and girls who weren’t part of that world. I wanted to tell a story that would reveal the significance of quiet lives,” said Lebduska.

However, constructing such a narrative was no simple feat. In order to fully realize the complexities of such lives, she had to truly understand them. To do this required many detours and a great deal of writing around the subject until the details of such lives were fully grasped.

Lebduska also cited her own life experience as being an influential factor.

“I thought about a wooden play set of table and chairs my mother gave me when I was a little girl, that she had received as a girl – her father’s entire salary…I have always felt that this set was inhabited by hundreds of conversations,” said Lebduska.

Writing “Belle Ragazze” was pleasant challenge, as it was a genre of writing in which she does not often work. As someone who teaches writing, Lebduska explained that she finds working in new, challenging genres helps her to examine and explore her own practices.

Though she hopes to revisit this setting in Brooklyn, and the lives of other characters in the “Belle Ragazze,” Lebduska has since returned to working on her essay focused on the problems surrounding the use of the phrase “digital native.” Additionally, she is working on a project seeking to understand how students learn to write in their respective majors – a project for which she has already surveyed over 100 Wheaton students.

As for what is next, she commented that “I imagine I’ll need to start playing video games, as I have a very talented student who is writing an Honors Thesis about video games.”

Read the article in
The Tishman Review,
Volume 3, Issue 4,
October 2017.