Courses are listed by course number and title. University credits are included in parentheses. Literature and culture course offerings vary by semester.
Please see the site of the University Registrar for current course offerings.
009. Italian for Spanish Speakers (6)
Professors Anna De Fina and Giuseppe Tosi
This intensive Italian language course, designed for native or proficient speakers of Spanish, covers in one semester materials usually taught in two semesters in Basic and Intermediate Italian. The course provides an accelerated introduction to Italian, allowing students who successfully complete it to enroll in Advanced Italian I. As in other Italian language courses, attention is devoted to the four skills of speaking, understanding, reading, and writing. Aspects of Italian history, culture, and contemporary life are also introduced through readings, listening materials, videos and films and through the use of language technologies. The general objectives are to provide students with basic tools for oral and written communication in Italian, but also to offer them the opportunity to learn about Italian culture and life and to reflect about intercultural differences and similarities. This course is specifically designed with the needs and strengths of Spanish speaking students in mind, so that the similarities between the two languages can be used to promote specific learning paths.
This intensive course meets for a full hour five days a week and provides a first approach to the Italian language for absolute beginners. Attention is devoted to the four skills of speaking, understanding, reading, and writing with a progression from greater emphasis on listening and speaking to a balance of all skills as the semester progresses. Aspects of Italian history, culture, and contemporary life are also introduced through readings, listening materials, videos and films and through the use of language technologies (like Blackboard and other web tools). The general objectives are to provide students with basic tools for oral and written communication in Italian, but also to offer them the opportunity to learn about Italian culture and life and to reflect about intercultural differences and similarities.
032. Intensive Intermediate Italian (6)
This intensive course meets for a full hour five days a week and it is designed to further develop language ability and knowledge of the Italian culture for students who have completed Basic Intensive Italian or have already had some exposure to the language. As in the case of Intensive Basic Italian, the four skills of speaking, understanding, reading and writing are developed in a balanced way. Aspects of Italian history, culture, and contemporary life are also introduced through readings, listening materials, videos and films and through the use of language technologies (like Blackboard and other web tools). The general objective is to provide students with basic tools for oral and written communication in Italian and to offer them the opportunity to learn about Italian culture and life, but also to reflect about intercultural differences and similarities.
042. Gateway to Italian Culture (3)
This course is designed to guide students through a close study of major Italian works. It aims to provide a critical overview of literary and cultural movements that have shaped the discipline of Italian Studies. Students’ critical thinking will be developed through frequent writing assignments. This course, offered in English, is required for all Italian majors and it satisfies one of the two College Literature and Writing requirements. Italian majors should register for the course during the second semester of their first year. The course is also open to non-majors. Conducted in English.
111. Intensive Advanced Italian (5)
A second-year intensive course meeting for 50 minutes five days a week, Intensive Advanced Italian I continues and builds on the work done in Intensive Basic and Intermediate Italian, providing a thorough grounding in the essentials of Italian grammar. The course develops the four skills of speaking, understanding, reading, and writing but increases attention to grammatical correctness and the development of literacy with respect to Basic and Intermediate. Aspects of Italian history, culture, and contemporary life are also introduced through readings, listening materials, videos and films and through the use of language technologies (like Blackboard and other web tools). The general objective is to provide students with opportunities to further develop their oral and written communicative ability in Italian and to learn about Italian culture and life, but also to reflect about intercultural differences and similarities.
112. Intensive Advanced Italian II (5)
A second-year intensive course meeting for 50 minutes five days a week, Intensive Advanced Italian II continues and builds on the work done in Intensive Basic, Intermediate Italian, and Advanced I providing a review of Italian grammar learned in the previous years and opportunities to develop the four skills of speaking, understanding, reading, and writing at an advanced level. The course is centered on thematic units dealing with aspects of Italian history, culture, and contemporary life that are presented to students through readings, listening materials, videos and films and through the use of language technologies (like Blackboard and other web tools). The general objective is to develop students proficiency in oral and written Italian, to provide them with the tools not only to communicate in formal and informal encounters and exchanges in the target country, but also to function in Italian within academic environments. Finally, intercultural reflection and exchange are given prominence in Advanced II as in the other courses that conform the Italian Language Curriculum.
231. Contemporary Italy: Topics (3)
This course is designed to integrate language proficiency and area studies by focusing on topics on Contemporary Italy, from geography, demography, history, economics, politics, society, and media to the arts. Three oral language exams will be administered a pre-test upon registration to determine level of proficiency, a mid-term and a final. Conducted in Italian.
NOTE: SFS students may count their final oral examination as their required oral proficiency test.
233. Writing and Culture (3)
The main objective of this course is to help students of Italian who have reached an advanced level of competence in the language, practice and refine their writing skills through intensive work on a variety of culturally significant texts both from literature and the mass-media. The focus of the course is on the analysis and then the production of different types of texts and therefore students will be exposed to different genres: from literary narrative texts, to argumentative and informative texts taken from Italian newspapers and periodicals, to formal and informal letters. In the second part of the course, they will read and discuss the novel Io non ho paura and see its movie version. In parallel with reading and writing, students will review basic grammar through specific language exercises. Students will produce different types of texts: descriptive, argumentative and informative and will write both in individual and dyadic formats. Most of the writing will be done at home, but there will be also in class writing. The course will provide good practice and cultural input for students planning to continue the study of Italian in more advanced literature, and culture courses, as well as, for a study abroad experience in Italy.
237. Business Italian (3)
Have you ever dreamed of working for Ferrari, Prada, a Società Italiana Multinazionale, or as an international lawyer? Would you like to wake up in the morning and read the business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore along with your cappuccino? Italy, known for its rich artistic patrimony, is also an industrial power with a thriving economy. This course will introduce students to the Italian business culture, its entrepreneurship, the success of the “made in Italy” brands, and the language of business, finance, and commerce. The course will also focus on how business is conducted in Italy, taking into account language, customs, regional differences, and politics. Furthermore, it will introduce students to Italian communicative strategies used in business transactions and business correspondence in Italian. Guest speakers from Italian businesses and the world of fashion will contribute to the course.
Prerequisite: Intensive Advanced Italian II or Italian Expository Writing or the equivalent. Conducted in Italian.
239. "Sono solo canzonette"? Love and Politics in Italian Songs (3)
Professor Benedetti and Professor Ciabattoni
Apart from and complementary to its operatic heritage, Italy enjoys a rich tradition of popular music that has expressed the dreams and fears of a society in constant evolution. This course explores some topics in Italian culture such as love, politics, war, mafia, emigration and ecology, from Fascism to the present, seen through the prism of the songs that Italians have written, sung and cherished throughout the years. Particular attention will be given to the work of “cantautori” such as Fabrizio De André, Francesco Guccini, and Edoardo Bennato.
311. Topics in Italian Art, History, and Literature (3)
The objective of this course is to explore the interrelationship between the arts, literature, and culture within an historical framework. Through an integrative approach, we will discuss, interpret, and analyze a select number of works of art and literary texts from the 1200s to the 1400s. This was a period of intense development in the world of ideas reflected in the arts, literature, and philosophy. Slides of works of art discussed in the class will be posted on the course website for easy access. Conducted in Italian.
321. Poetics of Lightness: Italo Calvino and Post-War Italian Culture (3)
Nonexistent knights, cloven viscounts, cosmicomics, the geography of the city and the universe: the production of the most experimental Italian writer of the 20th century engages in a dialogue with literary tradition, investigates the links between literature and science, and reflects on the mechanisms of textual creation and consumption. In the first of the Norton lectures that he was going to deliver at Harvard in 1985, Calvino described his working method as one involving "the subtraction of weight". The course explores the author's "poetics of lightness" through a thorough analysis of his work, from the war novel The Path to the Spiders' Nest (1947) to the textual adventures of If on a Winter Night a Traveler (1979). Conducted in Italian.
335. Sacred and Secular Love in Medieval Europe (3)
This coure analyzes the development of love poetry in Europe from 1200 to 1400. Among the authors considered are Marie de France, Arnaut Daniel, William IX of Aquitaine, Andreas Capellanus, Guillaume de Lorris, Alfonso X of Castile, Guido delle Colonne, Guido Cavalcanti, Dante Alighieri, Francis Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Geoffrey Chaucer. Texts will be placed into their culture context and discussed critically, underscoring the tensions between sacred and secular approaches to poetry. We will analyze different literary strategies aimed to reconcile sacred and secular principles of love and will assess literature's role as a means of physical and metaphysical knowledge. The climax of this progression will be shown in works as Dante's Comedy and Petrarch's Canzoniere. The course is conducted in English. Readings will also be in English.
337. Italian Cinema (3)
A study of Italian cinema as a reflection of Italian culture. Historical overview of the major periods of Italian film: Neorealism '50s, the 1960s, and the 1970s. Analysis of the historical setting and world vision of the directors. Conducted in Italian.
358. Literature of United Italy (3)
The making of Italy was as much a complex political design as an intense cultural enterprise. In this course we will examine the central role that Italian literature played in the development or problematization of a national consciousness. Through an analysis of major literary and cultural Italian works of the second half of the 19th-century, we will familiarize ourselves with paramount historical, political and social questions that accompanied the Italian unification. Starting from Alessandro Blasetti's celebrated movie 1860 and Giuseppe Mazzini's patriotic writings, passing through children's masterpieces like Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio and Edmondo De Amicis's Cuore, the discussions on the meaning of "man" in anthropologists Paolo Mantegazza and Cesare Lombroso, and the social denunciation in Matilde Serao's novels, we will investigate a variety of topics such as the political and economical divide between Northern and Southern Italy, the search for a unifying language and set of moral values through education, the status of women in Italian society and culture, and various forms of marginalization that characterized the Italian nation-building process.
359. Bella Ciao! Women’s Identity in Twentieth Century Italy (3)
The course explores the historical and cultural factors that shaped the notion of woman in twentieth - century Italy. It traces the development of female identity through an analysis of the turn of the century struggle for electoral rights, the Fascist celebration of motherhood as women’s sole mission, the postwar years, and feminism. Particular attention will be devoted to the ways in which women writers participated in and reacted to cultural discourses. Novels by Aleramo, De Céspedes, Banti, Fallaci and others; movies by Visconti, Scola, and Archibugi will be discussed. Conducted in Italian.
360. Giallo! Italian Detective Fiction (3)
WHODUNIT? Italian literature begins to ask this question only in the1930s, with the publication of the first libri gialli, which drew inspiration from British and American crime fiction. In this seminar, we will trace the extraordinary evolution of Italian detective fiction from its foreign antecedents and its early success in Italy’s mass literary market to the later appeal exerted by the detective format upon mainstream contemporary male novelists, as well as upon their feminist re-writers. A study of the Italian giallo will allow us to explore how literature adopts the motif of crime to raise issues of justice, politics, and morality, how power is deployed in the struggle between mafia and the law, how the space of the city is connected with the space of the narrative, and how writers use the search for meaning to convey different ideas about knowledge and interpretation of reality, from the heroic discovery of truth to the postmodern anti-heroic failure to decipher clues and solve mysteries. Conducted in Italian.
368. Politics, Society & Culture in Renaissance Italy (3)
The course explores some of the major themes in Renaissance culture and society, such as the development of political thought, the role of the intellectual, and the status of women. Texts studied include Niccolò Machiavelli’s Il principe, Baldassar Castiglione’s Libro del Cortegiano, and Moderata Fonte’s Il merito delle donne. Conducted in Italian.
372. Dante and the Medieval Mind (3)
A journey of self-discovery, Dante’s Divine Comedy offers a remarkable panorama of the late Middle Ages through one man's poetic vision of the afterlife. However, we continue to read and study the poem not only to learn about the thought and culture of medieval and early modern Europe but also because many of the philosophical and moral issues confronting Dante and his age are no less important to individuals and societies today. Personal and civic responsibilities, governmental accountability, church-state relations, economics and social justice, literary and artistic influences, benefits and limitations of interdisciplinarity--these are some of the themes that will frame our discussion of the Divine Comedy. Readings and lectures in English.
374. Theater, Politics and Art in the Italian Renaissance (3)
"Theater, Politics, and Art in The Italian Renaissance" is a journey through some of the fundamental aspects and works of the Italian Renaissance. The course will illustrate the interactions between politics, art and theatre in Rome, Florence, Venice, but also Ferrara, Mantova and other Italian cities. Literary and theatrical texts, contemporary sources, fresco cycles and paintings will be part of the course. Authors and artists such as Machiavelli, Ariosto, Vasari, Brunelleschi, Piero della Francesca, Michelangelo, Carpaccio, Pontormo and others will be studied within their political, philosophical, and artistic contexts. The objective is to understand the complexity of the Italian Renaissance by studying some of its major themes, protagonists, and aspects. Assignments will consist of short written assignments, one oral presentation, a mid-term exam, and a final paper on an artist, author, patron or other topic. The course will be taught in Italian.
375. Boccaccio: The Invention of Storytelling (3)
The Decameron, one of the most entertaining, beloved and imitated prose works ever written, is an accurate reflection of fourteenth-century life in Italy. Like Dante's Divine Comedy, this human comedy was written not only to delight, but also to instruct by exploring both our spiritual and our natural environment. Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), considered by some typically medieval and by others one of the first truly modern literary figures to emerge from the darkness of the Middle Ages into the light of the Renaissance, shows himself, as author of The Decameron, to be both a passionate believer and a passionate critic as he reconstructs society, destroyed by the Black Plague, through the perfection of his 100-fold narrative. Class discussions will focus on a close reading of the Decameron. Attention will also be given to Boccaccio's sources, his imitators and the socio-cultural milieu in which he wrote. The Decameron will be read in English translation. Conducted in English. This course satisfies the Humanities and Writing II requirements of the College.
380. Identity and Resistance in Fascist Italy (3)
The course examines the rise, fall and aftermath of Fascism in its cultural context and manifestations. Topics include the persecution of Italian Jews, colonialism and race, demographic policies and the role of women, individual and collective forms of resistance, and the different interpretations of Fascism. Course materials draw from a variety of primary and secondary sources, such as literary and cinematographic works of the ventennio, historical accounts, and theoretical essays. Conducted in Italian.
382. The Fantastic in 19th & 20th-Century Italian Literature (3)
This course explores various conventions, modes, and subgenres of the fantastic (like gothic, supernatural, folk-tale and magical realism) in Italian modern and contemporary writers as ways of complementing, problematizing or rejecting a mimetic representation of reality. Through a selection of fictional texts and essays by authors like Tarchetti, Capuana, Bontempelli, Ortese, Buzzati and Manfredi, among others, and the screening of several movies, we will pay special attention to the implications of transgressive aesthetic forms for social, political and gender issues. Conducted in Italian.
383. Love, Religion, and War (3)
The course is based on the reading and discussion of Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata (1581), one of the masterpieces of Italian literature, an epic poem that can be considered emblematic of the religious and cultural tensions of its time. Good knowledge of oral and written Italian is essential. Students are required to complete in a timely manner all the assigned readings (sections of the poem and secondary sources), to present the readings to the class, to write three short response papers (3-4 pages each) and take three tests. There will be no final exam or final paper.
384. Theater and Opera (3)
Since it's beginnings in Florence, the Italian Opera reached a European popularity. Italian singers, similiarly to actors in the Theater, performed in many countries. We will examine Theater and Opera from both theoretical and interdisciplinary perspectives. For the Opera we will select arias of different composers and periods, trace the development of this genre, and describe its performing characteristics. The course will also outline a cultural geography of the diffusion and success of this genre. For the Theater component of the course will we focus on the Commedia dell'Arte and its relations with the comic Opera ( the so-called Opera buffa), and we will also overview the architectonic development of Theaters from the 17th to the 20th century.
385. Madness in Italian Literature and Theater (3)
The course is conceived as a voyage through different ages of Italian literature, theater and culture focusing on the representation of madness in literary texts and society. From Middle Ages to Renaissance, from the 18^th to the 20^th century we will analyze madness also in theater and opera. We will analyze the different relations towards madness during various ages and in the works of authors such as Ariosto, Boccaccio, Pirandello, Svevo (and others), and composers such as Donizetti or Verdi. Short written assignments, a mid-term exam, an oral presentation on a topic selected by the student, and a final paper will be required. The course will be conducted in Italian.
388. Sex and Politics in Italian Theater and Cinema (3)
The course will focus on various aspects of Italian theater and cinema from the perspective of sex and politics. We will explore sexuality and its relationship with politics and arts through various ages and through two important media such as theater and cinema. In addition to the analysis and discussion of plays by Machiavelli, Bibbiena and Aretino (and others), we will also discuss films which have had a deep impact on the Italian political and cultural debate. The course will be taught in Italian. Several short written assignments, and a presentation will be part of the assessment.
390. Mafia: Reality and Fiction (3)
Mafia, cosa nostra, ‘ndrangheta, omerta’, padrini... These terms, which continue to be present in Italian news, have also contributed to the creation of a certain Italian imaginary and of controversial cultural clichés qualifying Italy's legal, moral, social and political practices.
With the aid of literary texts (from Sciascia to Saviano), movies and a variety of additional interdisciplinary material, this course aims to examine the complexity of the "mafia" phenomenon, its history, its multiple aesthetic representations and its many myths.
391. History of the Italian Language (3)
Professor De Fina
Like many other romance languages and Italian dialects, the Italian language has its roots in classical and vulgar Latin. This class provides students with a general view of the development of the Italian language from its origins to the present day. Below are examples of the questions that we ask and answer in class: How and why did Latin give birth to so many languages? In which Italian regions were the first uses of Italian documented? What did the Etruscan have to do with the Florentine pronunciation? Written texts from the periods that are being studied in class and sections of movies that exemplify the way Italian was spoken in the past will be examined in order to enrich the course and give students an opportunity analyze authentic documents. Conducted in Italian. (This course satisfies one semester of the social science general education requirement.)
392. The Theater of Power: Dynasties, Politics, and Theater, 1500-1800 (3)
The course will examine relations between early modern Italian theater and the ruling classes. We will explore this fascinating and fundamental historical issue from the Renaissance to the beginning of the 1800s as a journey through Italy, its towns, its architecture, and its dynasties: Florence (the Medici), Rome (the Catholic church and the clergy), Naples (the Bourbons), Venice, Ferrara, Vicenza and Mantova (aristocracy and minor dynasties). The actual staging of a text (a comedy, or a dramatic reading, etc.) will be among the final objectives of the course. The course will be conducted in Italian.
393. Contemporary Italian and Its Regional Varieties (3)
Professor De Fina
This course is designed to offer students a panorama of contemporary Italian language and its varieties by leading them into an exploration of the great linguistic richness and diversity that characterizes Italy. Among the topics that will be discussed are the differences between Standard Italian and other language varieties such as popular Italian and dialects, the presence of dialects in literature, film, and everyday life; the characteristics of varieties such as the juvenile slang, the language of the media, the language of advertising; the role of gestures in communication among Italians. Students will discuss and analyze these phenomena through modern texts in contemporary Italian, from novels to songs to film. Conducted in Italian. This course satisfies one semester of the College Social Science General Education Requirement.
394. Italian Americans: Language Literature and Cinema (3)
Professor De Fina
Between 1880 and 1930 more than three million Italians left their country of origin to migrate to the United States. The experience of migration and of settling into a new land has marked the life of generations of Italian Americans. However, the history of this exodus, the struggles of the peoples that participated in it and the culture that they generated has only recently received the attention that it deserves both in Italy and in the United States. The main objective of this course is to fill this gap by offering students a glimpse of the Italian American experience. The course will provide the opportunity to acquire general information on Italian migration to the United States, but also to reflect on and discuss salient aspects of the literature, cinema and language of Italian Americans. In particular, students will read and discuss some of the most important literary works (from both Italian and Italian American authors) that depict the early years of the migratory movement and the clash between different generations. They will reflect on and discuss how Italian Americans are portrayed in movies and television series such as the Sopranos. In addition, they will become acquainted with the evolution of Italian dialects in the United States and with the trajectory of Italian as a second and foreign language in the country. Central to these readings and discussions will be the question of Italian American identity and how perceptions about it have evolved both in Italy and in the United States. Course conducted in English. This course satisfies one semester of the College Social Science General Education Requirement.
404. The Twentieth-Century Italian Novel (3)
The course follows the development of the Italian novel throughout the twentieth century. Through a combination of close reading of primary sources and in-depth discussion of selected critical works, we will examine issues of gender, identity, and politics, as interpreted by authors such as Sibilla Aleramo, Italo Calvino, Primo Levi, and Elsa Morante.
411. From Novel to Film : Cultural Dialog (3)
This course will explore the relationships between literature and cinema. While examining the more subtle influence that cinema has had on literature, our main focus will be the cinematographic adaptation of literary texts. Following critic Millicent Marcus, we will analyze the process of adaptation as the result of a series of encounters: "the institutional encounter between literary and film cultures, the semiotic encounter between two very different signifying systems, and the personal encounter between author and filmmaker." We will discuss the main theoretical issues linked to this process, through the analysis of four major novels and their cinematographic counterparts. Readings from Tarchetti, Verga, Bassani, Moravia; movies by Scola, Visconti, De Sica, and Bertolucci. Conducted in Italian.
425. From Mazzini to the Euro: The European Consciousness in Modern and Contemporary Italian Literature (3-4)
This course examines the birth and development of the idea of Europe in the Italian literary and cultural framework, from key figures of the "Risorgimento" through modernist and postwar writers, up to novelists and intellectuals of the new millennium. A comparative and interdisciplinary dialogue between the Italian "case" and other European visions offers additional insights into the role of the European consciousness in the tug of war between the preservation of a national (or even regional) identity and the drive towards globalization. Readings include texts by Mazzini, Savinio, Piovene, Spinelli, Magris, Parks, and Baricco. This is a variable credit course, which can be taken for 3 or 4 credits. Conducted in Italian.
426. Encounters with the Other: The Ethnographic Imagination in Italian Literature (3)
This course is devoted to the Italian gaze at other cultures, to the different strategies of representations adopted by Italian authors in their writings about other cultures, and to the ideologies that accompany such discourse, in specific contexts and epochs. From the marvels of Marco Polo's voyage to the Far East and the travelogues of later explorers through the birth of anthropology as a discipline, from late 19th-century exoticism, primitivism, and the colonial experience through the geographical dépaysement in novelists of the last decade, like Calvino, Tabucchi and Celati, we will examine how the encounter with cultural otherness, outside or inside the Italian borders, is verbalized and gradually incorporated into literature. We will also try to interrogate the relationship between this multifarious discourse on other cultures and the question of the Italian national identity. Conducted in Italian.
445. Betrayals of Translation (3)
What lies behind the stereotype of the translator as a betrayer (as in the Italian pun "traduttore traditore")? This course aims to answer this question by concentrating on three major aspects on the craft of translation: history, theory, and practice. We will examine the role of translation in modern and contemporary culture and its complex relationship with the question of power, by studying major Italian writers who also achieved fame as translators of foreign masterpieces. Students will be introduced to a variety of theories of and approaches to translation, with attention to their historical development down to the current connections between translation and poststructuralist, postcolonial and gender studies. The promises and the pitfalls of translation as intercultural communication will then be tested through a series of meetings devoted to practicing translation, when students will work on English and Italian texts from and to the target language. Conducted in Italian. Open to Georgetown students and students of the Consortium. Prerequisite: solid knowledge of Italian.
452. Theater of Sacred: Between Faith and Politics (3)
The course is designed to provide an overview of the Italian religious theater from the Middle Ages to the late Renaissance and early Baroque. The course will highlight the characteristics of the sacred theater, and we will discuss the connections between faith and politics during one of the most interesting and fascinating period of the Italian and European history. We will also analyze the structure and rules of the network of youth organizations which often staged sacred plays, the so called “confraternities”. Analyses will be conducted from a variety of perspectives: religious, liturgical, and political. Short written assignments, a mid-term exam, an oral presentation on a topic selected by the student, and a final paper will be required. The course will be conducted in Italian
460. Dante (3)
The course will unfold as a reading of selected cantos of the Divine
Comedy (Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise) and will highlight the
thematic and conceptual continuity and unity of Dante's poem. The
course will stress the historical context, relations with Middle-Ages
arts, the narrative structure of the poem and how it answers the
question of spiritual conversion. It will discuss Dante's involvement
with the moral and political values of Florence and Italy and Dante’s
political position with regards to the Empire and the Papacy; and it
will emphasize both the stages in the pilgrim's moral reformation and
the poet's deepening sense of his poetic art. It will end with an
exploration of Dante's representation of Paradise. Conducted in
471. The Writing Factory : Science, Machines, and the Technology of the Word in 20th-Century Italian Literature (3)
This course investigates the role played by science and technology as motifs and formal principles in Italian literature and culture from the end of the 19th century to the present. Adopting a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective, we will examine the position of Italian writers and intellectuals vis-a-vis the extended Western debate on the so-called "two cultures," we will meditate on the status of literature and the humanities in a technological society, and we will try to understand how and why writers incorporate the scientific discourse in their works. Pivotal moments will be the Futurist attack on nature and naturalism, the clash between theater and the rise of the cinema industry, the experimental literary techniques of the neo-avant-garde, the postmodern problematization of reason, method and meaning, the question of the ethics of literature in a rapidly evolving technological world, and the slowly-emerging cyberfeminist movement within feminist theory. Readings will include works by Marinetti, Pirandello, Levi, Sciascia, Calvino, and Del Giudice. Conducted some semesters in Italian and other semesters in English.
473. Farewell to Realism: Decadence, Avant-Garde, Modernism (3)
With the turn of the century and the new millennium, this course allows us to live through another fin-de-siecle experience, namely, the fascinating transition from the 19th to the 20th century. We will explore the multiple ways in which different literary and visual forms of representation reflect, react, and even anticipate the dramatic changes in the Italian philosophical, political, and social domains at the dawn of a new epoch, decreeing the death of realism. Pivotal issues: the exotic in decadent and colonial literature, the crisis of the hero and the will to power, the shock of the new, women writers' reactions to Fascist female stereotypes. Conducted in Italian.
489. Senior Seminar: Texts in Contexts: Approaches to Critical Analysis (3)
The senior seminar is a capstone course designed to familiarize students with the most significant theories and practices of critical analysis. It discusses the principles of the major approaches (such as Marxist, semiotic, and gender criticism), while testing their validity through applications to specific texts. Students will learn to recognize the different perspectives, select the most appropriate approach for a given context, and develop their own critical discourse. Conducted in Italian.
Starting from the notion of culture as a total phenomenon and adopting an interdisciplinary methodology, this course has two main objectives: to make M.A. students from both tracks familiar with major trends in critical and cultural theory; and to train students to apply theoretical concepts and approaches to selected expressions of Italian culture.
A combination of Italian and foreign theoretical texts will be taken from such diverse areas as literary theory, semiotics, cultural anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and aesthetics, and will help students analyze Italian cultural phenomena in connection with issues of ideology, social class, politics, gender and race. Representative case studies will be carefully selected with particular attention to the main fields of investigation pertaining to the M.A.’s objectives (such as literature, history, sociology, linguistics, politics, media and the arts).
The course will be a combination of lectures, class discussions and individual presentations. By the end of the semester each student will have to submit a long research paper on a topic, methodology and disciplinary area reflecting the student’s field of specialization chosen for the M.A.
531. Issues and Perspectives in Italian Studies
Using a variety of materials –from literary texts to critical essays, newspaper articles and films--the course explores several issues that have shaped Italian culture throughout the centuries and continue to play a crucial role in the contemporary debate. These include the North-South divide, the relationship between Church and State, the role of literature in the formation of the national identity, and the transformation of Italy from a country of emigrants into a country of immigrants.
533. Art, Opera and Society
The course will outline the general development of two fundamental elements of Italian culture and their relationships with Italian society: Art and Opera. Both these cultural aspects will be presented in the perspective of the development of the Italian society from the Medieval ages to the Renaissance, and from the Baroque to Romanticism. The main Italian artists, such as Giotto or Michelangelo, as well as Bernini and others will be studied according to their relations with arts but also with the Italian society of their times. We will discuss Opera from its beginnings in Florence as a court entertainment to its growth as a commercial phenomenon in 17th century Venice. Then, this typical Italian art will be analyzed through its various declinations (libretti, singers, music, opera theaters) within a wide overview which will stress the social values of the operatic life in Italy from the 17th to the 20th century.
535. Italian as a Second and Foreign Language
The objective of this course is to offer students who are interested in teaching Italian and in- service teachers of Italian a general background in theories of Second Language Acquisition and in Pedagogy with a focus on Italian. The course will offer the opportunity to discuss the teaching of grammar and of the four skills to Learners of Italian as a Foreign Language, a review of Language Acquisition Theories and methodologies for Foreign Language Teaching and a discussion and reflection on cultural topics relevant to Italian life today. Part of the course will also be devoted to syllabus preparation and materials design for AP Italian courses. Students will therefore work on the pedagogical presentation of grammatical structures and on the development of materials on cultural topics relevant to understand Modern Italy. The grammatical structures discussed are those that represent a greater challenge for English speaking learners such as verbal agreement, difference between direct and indirect object pronouns, opposition between imperfetto and passato prossimo, use of the subjunctive. Among the cultural topics on which the course will focus are the family and its evolution, the economy, the political system and institutions, immigration, contributions of Italian Americans to the world. Materials will include articles from Italian periodicals, literary texts and essays. Another objective of the course is to help teachers develop a portfolio of teaching materials and activities that they can use in their courses.
550. Italian Women’s Historical Journey
The purpose of this course is two-fold. On the one hand, it will study canonical and less canonical representations of femininity, from Beatrice to the modern times. On the other, it will trace the manifestations and development of women’s consciousness from the Renaissance to the present. The course will also examine the specific ways in which historical events and social policies have affected Italian women, and confront the issue of “difference” in women’s writings and action.
551. Italy and the Idea of Europe
This course concentrates on pivotal representative moments of the intellectual history of Europe seen through the modern and contemporary Italian literary and cultural production. It explores the evolution of the idea of Europe and the development of a European consciousness as reflected in the writings of key literary, historical, and philosophical Italian figures, from the heroes of Risorgimento – Mazzini and Garibaldi—to the antifascist thinker Carlo Rosselli and the federalist politician Altiero Spinelli, down to protagonists of contemporary Italian culture like philosopher Gianni Vattimo, the controversial Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, and the internationally renowned Mitteleuropean writer Claudio Magris.
This comparative and interdisciplinary investigation will allow students to appreciate the complexity of the European question in a nation trying to come to terms with regional localisms, Mediterraneanization, and globalization, and to familiarize themselves with the pivotal contribution of Italian literature to the European ideal.
601. Italian, Italians and Linguistic Identity
The linguistic panorama of Italy is one of the most complex in Europe given that a multitude of dialects and minority languages are spoken in the peninsula and have in the past offered an alternative medium of communication to the national language for millions of Italians. This course is aimed at providing a general historical view of the process that has generated this situation (from the formation of the Italian volgari from Latin to the development of the national language) and at reflecting on how the linguistic situation has affected the multiple senses of belonging of Italians in Italy and abroad. Among the topics presented in the course are the “questione della lingua” as historically debated among intellectuals, the language ideologies related to the use of dialects and to the assignment of different hierarchical places in the status of the language varieties spoken in the peninsula, the way these divisions and struggles have been reflected upon in literature and film. Thus the course will center around essays written on the “questione della lingua”, but also around literary and artistic work that is significant to understand its origin and present significance.
605. Images and Politics: Italian Cinema and National Consciousness
In 1905 the first Italian film, La presa di Roma, was shown on the same date and in the very same site where the historical event narrated in the movie had taken place thirty-five years earlier. From its very beginning, Italian cinema shows a pronounced tendency to confront itself with history. The course examines the crucial role played by cinema in the formation of the Italian national identity, from its inception to the Fascist years, Neorealism, and the recent wave of films on the Holocaust.
Course offerings vary from year to year. Please refer to the websites of the host departments for complete course descriptions.
590. L2 Curriculum Construction: Contexts, Principles, Goals, and Approaches
445. Europe as a World Region
461. History of European Economic Integration
590. International Relations in Europe
590. The European Union
593. Comparative European Politics
496. Intercultural Communication
553. Introduction to Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism
586. Language and Identity
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