Italian Department

Professor: John Ahern; Associate Professors: Rodica Diaconescu-Blumenfeld (Chair), Eugenio GiustibAssistant Professor: Roberta AntogniniabVisiting Assistant Professor: Maria A. Nicoletti.

Courses are conducted in Italian, except for Italian 175, 237, 238, 242, 250, 255, Medieval and Renaissance Studies 220. One course, such as Anthropology 150, or Italian 250/255, may be counted in the required 10 units.

Requirements for Concentration: 10 units including Italian 220 or equivalent, 301.

Senior-Year Requirements: Italian 301 and 2 units of 300-level courses. Students who wish to be considered for departmental honors must also complete a Senior Project (Italian 300).

Recommendations: Summer study at the Vassar program in Siena. The department strongly recommends that students interested in the Junior Year in Italy begin the study of Italian in their freshman year. Majors in their junior year are encouraged to participate in Italy in the Eastern College Consortium in Bologna (ECCO).

Advisers: The department.

Correlate Sequence in Italian: Students majoring in other programs may elect a correlate sequence in Italian.

Requirements: 6 units chosen from the following: Italian 205, 206, 220, 222, 260, 265, 270, 280, 301, 330, 331, 337, 338. At least one course must be taken at the 300-level. All courses must be taken for the letter grade. Courses taken in 
Italy or during the summer may be substituted with department approval.

I. Introductory

105a-106b. Elementary Italian (1)

Introduction to the essential structures of the language with emphasis on oral skills and reading. Reading and performance of a play by a contemporary author in the second semester. Supplementary material from Andiamo in Italia, a web-based trip to Italy. The department.

Open to all classes; four 50-minute periods; one hour of drill and one hour of aural-oral practice. Electronic versions of required materials are not accepted.

107b. Intensive Elementary Italian (2)

A single-semester equivalent of Italian 105-106. Ms. Blumenfeld.

Open to all classes; four 75-minute periods; one hour of drill and one hour of aural-oral practice. Electronic versions of required materials are not accepted.

175a. The Italian Renaissance in English Translation (1)

A survey of the masterworks: Petrarch’s Canzoniere and Letters, Boccaccio’s Decameron, poems and letters by women humanists, Machiavelli’s Prince and La Mandragola, Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier, Gaspara Stampa’s and Veronica Franco’s poems, and Tullia d’Aragona’s Dialogue. Mr. Giusti.

May not be counted towards the Italian major. Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

II. Intermediate

205a. Intermediate Italian I (1)

Narration in popular culture, literature, and film. Analysis of folktales, short stories, and a contemporary feature film. Strong emphasis on effective oral expression. Formal study of grammar. Successful completion of this course provides a suitable background for other 200‑level courses. The department.

Two 75-minute periods and one hour of conversation. Electronic versions of required materials are not accepted.

Prerequisite: Italian 105-106 or permission of instructor.

206b. Intermediate Italian II (1)

Italy today: the image in the Italian media. Analysis and discussion of strategies of representation in newspapers (La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera), magazines (Espresso), television and radio, advertisements, cinema, and the Internet. Formal study of grammar. Strong emphasis on effective oral expression. The department.

Two 75-minute periods and one hour of conversation.

Prerequisite: Italian 205 or permission of instructor. Electronic versions of required materials are not accepted.

[220b. Italian Civilization: Interpreting the Texts] (1)

From the origin of the Italian language to the masterpieces of the Renaissance. Selected texts from the “Dolce stil nuovo” and Dante’s Vita nuova; Petrarch’s Canzoniere and Italian Humanism; Boccaccio’s Decameron and the “novella” tradition; Ariosto, and the Italian epic; Machiavelli, Castiglione, Bembo on politics and ideology; Michelangelo, Stampa, Franco on gender in literature. Mr. Giusti, Ms. Antognini.

Prerequisite: Italian 270 or 280 or special permission.

Not offered in 2007/08.

222b. Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Italian Culture. (1)

We study the ideas of Romanticism and the persistence of classical tradition in the Romantic period, the creation of the novel and its reflection on genre, and the rebirth of the novella; further we investigate the search for truth as social commentary, the aesthetic ideals of the Decadent movement, and early twentieth-century poets. Texts include: Foscolo’s Lettere di Jacopo Ortis, Leopardi’s Canti and Lo Zibaldone, Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi, Verga’s Rosso Malpelo and I Malavoglia, D’Annunzio’s Il Fuoco, and the poetry of Ungaretti, Montale, and Saba. Ms. Pietrantenio.

Prerequisites: Italian 270 or 280 or special permission.

237a. Dante’s Divine Comedy in Translation (1)

A close reading of the entire Comedy in its historical, philosophical, theological, and literary contexts. Conducted in English. Mr. Ahern.

Open to all classes. Italian majors see Italian 337-338.

[242. Boccaccio’s Decameron in Translation: The “Novella” as Microcosm] A close reading of the one hundred tales with emphasis on social, cultural, and gender issues of the later Middle Ages. Reference is made to classical sources (Ovid, Petronius, Apuleius), the French Fabliaux, and Courtly Literature. The course also analyzes contemporary rewritings of the text in different genres and media. Conducted in English. Mr. Giusti. (1)

Open to all classes. Italian majors see Italian 342.

Two 75-minute meetings.

Not offered in 2007/08.

[250b. Italian Cinema in English] (1)

Cultural, ideological, and aesthetic issues in the history of Italian cinema from Neorealism to contemporary auteurs. Ms. Blumenfeld.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

May be counted towards the Italian major.

One 3-hour meeting and one film -screening.

Not offered in 2007/08.

255a. Four Italian Filmmakers (in English) (1)

Close analysis of the narrative and visual styles of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Lina Wertmüller, and Nanni Moretti, in the context of post war Italian cinema and culture. Theoretical literature on these directors and on approaches to the interpretation of cinematic works aid us in addressing questions of style and of political and social significance. Ms. Blumenfeld.

No prerequisites.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

May be counted towards the Italian major.

One 3-hour meeting and one film screening.

270a. Advanced Composition and Oral Expression (1)

Development of oral and written skills through extensive conversation and essay writing. The course makes use of a variety of “texts” available in traditional formats (books, magazines, journals, films), as well as web-based materials. The topics covered are in the area of contemporary issues, with emphasis on cultural and socio-political phenomena. Mr. Giusti.

Two 75-minute meetings.

Prerequisite: Italian 206 or special permission.

280a. Giorgio Bassani’s Garden of the Finzi-Contini (1)

Giorgio Bassani, novelist, poet, essayist wrote this classic of modern Italian literature in 1962. Through the story of the Finzi-Continis, a wealthy Jewish family of Ferrara, Bassani recounts an important part of Italian history: Mussolini’s Fascist regime with its racial laws, persecutions, and deportations. However, this is not simply an historical novel, it is also an autobiographical one, a book of memory, and a love story. The novel’s sophisticated structure, its clear and fiercely crafted language, at once high and idiomatic, its evocation of Ferrara, make this work a wonderful medium for the study of Italian literature, history, language, and culture. Particular attention is devoted to the development of oral and written skills. Ms. Blumenfeld.

Prerequisite: Italian 206 or special permission.

290 Field Work ( 1/2 or 1)

297.01. Reading Course. Topics in 17th Century ( 1/2)

The department.

297.02. Reading Course. Topics in 18th Century ( 1/2)

The department.

297.03. Reading Course. Topics in 19th Century ( 1/2)

The department.

298 Independent Work ( 1/2 or 1)

III. Advanced

Prerequisite for all advanced courses: 2 units at the 200-level: 270 or 280, and 220 or 222; or by special permission.

300a. Senior Project (1)

The department.

301b. Senior Seminar (1)

An examination of selected topics in recent Italian culture or of a single topic across several centuries. May be taken more than once for credit when topic changes. Required of all senior majors.

Topic for 2007/08: L’Italia dei giovani: youth culture and the culture of youth in twentieth century Italy. The course is an exploration of the relationship between youth and history in twentieth century Italy from two perspectives: how young people have interpreted some of the major events and cultural movements of the century, and how youth was represented in literature in relation to the changing social and political conditions: from the call to arms to peace movements, from the myth of revolutionary youth to youth-oriented consumer culture, from body politics to virtual communication. Readings include fiction, poetry, and essays by such authors as: Marinetti, Pavese, Pasolini, Morante, Pivano, Sanguineti, Eco, Santacroce, among others. The course is taught in Italian. Instructor to be announced.

Prerequisite: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or the equivalent.

[330. The Italian Renaissance: The Italian Epic Tradition from 1300 to 1600] (1)

A study of the epic tradition from Medieval romances of chivalry and the “cantari” to the great epic poems of the Renaissance. Texts studied include: Pulci’s Morgante, Boiardo’s Orlando innamorato, Ariosto’s Orlando furioso, Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata, Tassoni’s Secchia rapita, and Marino’sAdone. We also examine the canons of the heroic poem in sixteenth-century. Ms. Antognini.

Prerequisites: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2007/08.

[331. The Italian Renaissance: Poetry, Theater, Politics, and Ideology] (1)

A study of ethnic, religious, and sexual otherness as represented in classical Renaissance texts. Selected readings of Michelangelo, Gaspara Stampa, Veronica Franco (poetry); Ariosto, Machiavelli, Aretino (theatre); Colombo, Vespucci, Castiglione, and Della Casa (politics and ideology). Mr. Giusti.

Prerequisites: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2007/08.

337a. Dante’s Divine Comedy (1)

A close reading of the entire Comedy in its historical, philosophical, theological, and literary contexts. Designed for Italian majors in their senior year. Students in this course attend the same lectures as in Italian 237, but do the reading in the original, attend a separate discussion class, and take separate exams. Mr. Ahern.

Prerequisite: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or the equivalent.

[342. Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron: The “Novella” as a Microcosm] (1)

Students in this course attend the same lectures as in Italian 242, but do the readings in the original, attend a separate discussion class, and take separate exams. Mr. Giusti

Prerequisite: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2007/08.

380a. Modernity in Italy. Il Primo Novecento (1)

The notion of modernity in Italian literature and culture, with particular attention to its manifestation in the twentieth century. We focus on the first half of the century and consider the impact of urban life, war, Fascism, and economic growth on literary creation and its aesthetic and social function. We read poetry, fiction, drama, and theoretical texts and analyze how the ideas of newness, progress, change, revolution, and avant-garde, are defined, expressed and questioned in works by Marinetti, Gozzano, Palazzeschi, Pirandello, Svevo, Vittorini and others. Instructor to be announced.

Prerequisite: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or equivalent

[381a. Gender Effects: Women in Italian Cinema] (1)

Through analysis of various filmic portrayals of the female body, narratives of female subjectivity, articulations of female desire, and experiments with female and feminist agency, we raise questions about female characters in Italian cinema, and the gendering significance of formal cinematic features. We study such films as Pasolini’s Mamma Roma, Fellini’s City of Women, Wertmüller’s Love and Anarchy, and the more recent Un’anima divisa in due by Soldini and Besieged by Bertolucci. Readings of pertinent works from feminist film theory in English and Italian. Ms. Blumenfeld.

Prerequisite: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2007/08.

[384a. Opera in Italian Culture] (1)

An examination of the role played by opera in Italian culture from the mid-Eighteenth century through the early Twentieth century. Operas by Metastasio, Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, and Puccini are studied in their libretti and video versions. Students attend a live performance in New York. Topics studied include: Opera buffa and seria. Romanticism, the Risorgimento, Verismo and Decadentismo with particular attention given to the roles played by women. Mr. Ahern.

Prerequisite: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or equivalent.

Not offered in 2006/07.

387b. The Twentieth Century Italian Novel (1)

At the turn of the twentieth century, there was a cultural revolution which had a profound effect on different fields of knowledge (physics, art, cinema, literature, psychiatry, the radio, etc.), irreversibly shattering the scientific and cognitive paradigms of the nineteenth century. This course reconstructs the origins of this radical transformation through the analysis of works by writers such as Luigi Pirandello, Federico Tozzi, and Italo Svevo, in direct comparison with Proust, Joyce, and Virginia Woolf. It traces the features of modern Italian narrative by exploring the new representations of time and space, the unremitting metamorphoses of characters, and the invention and transformation of narrative techniques (such as interior monologue, indirect free speech, the disintegration of the plot, and the utter eclipse of the omniscient narrator). Ms. Vanessa Pietrantonio.

Prerequisite: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or equivalent.

[388b. Petrarch’s Letters: Inventing Autobiography] (1)

Together with Dante and Boccaccio, Petrarch is considered one of the three “crowns” of Italian literature. His influence on European poetry has been immense. He is also considered the father of Humanism, the intellectual movement that preceded Renaissance. Together with the poems, his most remarkable works are his collections of Latin epistles, where he recounts the story of his life in a sequence of letters, a highly original undertaking. Texts read include the Familiares, his main collection of letters, and selections from other works: the Canzoniere, the Seniles, the Posteritati, the Epystole, the Secretum. Latin texts are read in Italian translation. Ms. Antognini.

Prerequisite: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or equivalent.

Not offered in 2007/08.

399 Senior Independent Work ( 1/2 or 1)

Eastern Colleges Consortium Program in Bologna

Vassar College, Wellesley College, and Wesleyan University offer a study abroad program at the University of Bologna in Italy. The program is committed to high academic standards and to providing opportunities for students to develop their knowledge of the Italian language and culture in one of the most venerable and prestigious academic environments in Europe. Undergraduates wishing to study humanities and social sciences may enroll for the fall or spring semesters or for the full academic year. Students may take courses in Italian studies offered by the program as well as regular courses at the University of Bologna. The number of courses that students may complete at the University of Bologna varies depending on the length of their stay and their knowledge of the language. The program accepts no more than 35 students each semester from consortium institutions and from other colleges and universities.

240 Italian Cultural History since the Unification (1)

Analysis of Italian culture from the second World War to the present. Italy’s transformation, from a modern to a post-modern, globalized society is thematized through the perspective of youth culture, cultural styles, music, media influence (TV and film), and generalized “Americanization.”

243 Italian Language and Culture ( 1/2)

A three-week intensive review of grammar and an introduction to contemporary Italy, offered in Lecce in August. Required of students with only one year of college-level Italian. Optional for all others.

244 Advanced Practice of Italian ( 1/2)

A three-week language course offered in Bologna, prior to the beginning of the regular semester program, emphasizing writing and critical reading. Required of all program participants, but not of year-long students in their second semester.

245 Theater in Performance (1)

Representation in theater acquires meaning through the process of mise-en-scène. This course offers students the opportunity to engage actively with various texts of Italian theater, paying special attention to language. Time will be divided between theory and practice, study and action.

246 History of Italian Middle Ages and Renaissance (1)

This course focuses on the history of Medieval Bologna using the extraordinary opportunities offered by the local resources, to analyze events and social realities in the dramatic and checkered history of this part of Europe.

248 Government and Politics in Modern Italy (1)

History of the Italian political system in the European contest from 1948 to the present. The course includes an analysis of the political systems and different forms of government of various European democracies.

249 Modern Italian Narrative (1)

The study of contemporary Italian literature in relation to cinema. The focus is on short stories about cinema and self-reflexive cinema.

251 Writing Workshop ( 1/2)

This course assists students in program and University of Bologna courses in sharpening their writing skills. Optional for year-long students in their second semester.

252 Women in Italian Life (1)

An interdisciplinary study of gender relations in Italy from various theoretical and disciplinary perspectives. The course intends to explore the Renaissance origins of gender literature, by examining the life, the works, and the ideas of some illustrious Italian women writers.

253 Modern Italian Art and Architecture (1)

The aim of the course is to trace the history of the Italian artistic production from 1850 to 2000. Because contemporary art is global, Italian art is considered in its relationship to European and non-European expressions.

254 Modern Italian History (1)

An examination of the key role played by war in the twentieth century: World War I and II, civil wars, liberation wars, the cold war and the more recent ethnic wars. Issues examined include war as a mass phenomenon, and the relation between wars, memory, and collective identity.

256 Modern and Contemporary Italian Poetry (1)

The most significant voices of the Italian poetry in the first half of the twentieth century. The transition from traditional metrical forms to free verse is studied through readings from Pascoli, D’Annunzio, Ungaretti, Montale and Saba.

285 Art and Architecture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (1)

A study of artistic expression as influenced by cultural, religious and political changes, from the 14th to the 15th centuries.