Courses are listed by course number and title. University credits are included in parentheses. Literature and culture courses vary by semester. Please see the site of the University Registrar for current course offerings.

527. Research methodology: Critical and Cultural Theories

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.

ITAL 388 – Cantautori: a History of Song

This course surveys the evolution of Italian song from World War II to the present time, with an emphasis on auteur song, orcanzone d’autore. Starting in the 1960s, the cantautori (singer-songwriters) produced music and lyrics of a novel kind which broke with tradition. Songwriters such as Fabrizio De André, Francesco De Gregori, Roberto Vecchioni, Francesco Guccini and others changed the key of Italian popular music: for the first time the authors of the songs were also their interpreters. The cantautori mixed sounds and rhythms from Anglosaxon rock and blues with Italian melody and bel canto, while at the same time making politics, love and societal changes the subjects of their lyrics. The cantautori have chronicled in a direct, unabashed way, the history and changes of modern-day Italy.
The social and political commitment of the cantautori becomes manifest through their employment of literary references and distancing from the clichés of the Festival of Sanremo and mainstream music. In addition to reinforcing linguistic skills and cultural competences of the students, this course provides an in-depth analysis of the changes in Italian folk, pop and rock songs and their relations to literature. Particular emphasis will be given to cantautori who write with a literary approach.
Instruction in Italian. Readings in English and Italian.