Italian Department

Professor: John Ahern; Associate Professors: Rodica Diaconescu-Blumenfeldb, Eugenio Giusti (Chair); Assistant Professors: Roberta Antognini, Simona Bondavallia

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, 222, 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, 342, 380, 385, 386. 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.

107a-b. Intensive Elementary Italian(2)

A single-semester equivalent of Italian 105-106. Mr. Giusti (a). Ms. Blumenfeld (b).

Open to all classes; four 75-minute periods; one hour of drill and one hour of aural-oral practice. Supplementary material from Andiamo in Italia, a web-based trip to Italy. 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.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

177a. Freshman Writing Course Italy and the Modern(1)

Self: Malady, Masks and Madness

This course analyzes different definitions of illness, or malady, indifference, and madness in the works of Italian authors of the early twentieth century. Frequently employed as metaphors for the condition of the artist and intellectual in modern society, these ideas contribute to redefine the notion of self in a country increasingly concerned with progress and modernization while still looking to the past in search of a national identity. Masquerading and acting easily become analogies for a divided self and for the loss of certainties characterizing the human condition in the context of modernity. Readings by Luigi Pirandello, Italo Svevo, Alberto Moravia and others. Ms. Bondavalli.

II. Intermediate

205a-b. 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)

Advanced formal study of grammar, with strong emphasis on expansion of vocabulary, complex linguistic structures, the use of dialect. Through analysis and discussion of strategies of representation in a contemporary novel and a film, students develop writing skills and effective oral expression. Ms. Antognini.

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. Ms. Antognini.

Prerequisite: Italian 270 or 280 or special permission.

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

Italian Cinema and Society: Contemporary Italy. An analysis of the transformation of Italian society in the second half of the twentieth century through its cinematic representation: the impact of capitalism and American culture, political protest, terrorism, the crisis of Communism, the influence of TV culture, and the question of national identity. The viewing and discussion of films is accompanied by critical readings. Movies by Moretti, Capuano, Garrone, Bellocchio, Giordana, and others. The course is taught in Italian. Films in Italian with English subtitles. Ms. Bondavalli.

Prerequisites: Italian 270 or 280 or special permission.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

[ 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.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

[ 242. Boccaccio's Decameron in Translation: The "Novella" as Microcosm ](1)

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.

Open to all classes. Italian majors see Italian 342.

Two 75-minute meetings.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

[ 250b. Italian Cinema in English ](1)

Cultural, ideological, and aesthetic issues in the history of Italian cinema from neo-realism 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.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

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

Close analysis of the narrative and visual styles of Michelangelo Antonioni, 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. The department.

Two 75-minute meetings.

Prerequisite: Italian 206 or special permission.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

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

Bassani's novel is the story of the decadence of a Jewish family, from the proclamation of the Mussolini's Racial Laws in 1938, to the deportation of Italian Jews to Nazi death-camps in 1943, to the present of the narrator some 15 years later. Through social, historical, intellectual contextualizations, we engage in extensive linguistic, literary, and aesthetic analysis. Particular attention is devoted to the development of oral and written skills. Individual and group multi-media projects. Ms. Blumenfeld.

Two 75-minute meetings.

Prerequisite: Italian 206 or special permission.

290. Field Work(1/2or 1)

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

The department.

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

The department.

297.03. Reading Course. Topics in Nineteenth 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-b. 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 2009/10: Giovanni Boccaccio's "Decameron": The Novella as Microcosm. A close reading of the one hundred tales with specific emphasis on social, cultural and gender issues of the later Middle Ages as represented in the novella genre. Particular attention is to theDecameron's frame as a connective tissue for the one hundred tales and a space for gender debate and social re-creation. During the reading of the tales references are made to classical (Ovid, Petronius, Apuleius) and contemporary (French Fabliaux, Courtly Love, The Novellino) sources. Also we analyze in detail some of the Decameron's subtexts, its censored versions, critical interpretations, and re-writings through different media. There is a screening of and discussion on Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Decamerone" and Hugo Fregonese's "Decameron's Nights", and the presentation of visual representations of selected stories. Mr. Giusti.

[ 330. 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.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

331a. The Italian Renaissance: The Italian Epic Tradition from 1300 to 1600(1)

A study of the epic tradition from the early Carolingian cantari and Arthurian romances of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to the leading Italian epics of the sixteenth century written at the Ferrara Renaissance court and their great influence on later literature, music, and paintings. Readings include selections from the Chanson de Roland and the Roman de Tristan, Pulci's Morgante, Bolardo's Orlando Innamorato, Ariosto's Orlando furioso, Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata, and Italo Calvino's parody Il cavaliere inesistente, as a contemporary reference to the traditional epic poetry. This book, epitomizing Calvino's long interest in the epic poem, provides a good basis for analyzing the archetypal character of Roland, his stoic and ascetic demeanor, and his transformation through the centuries until he becomes indeed "nonexistent." Ms. Antognini

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

338b. 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. Conducted in Italian. Mr. Ahern.

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

[ 342. Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron: The "Novella" as a Microcosm ](1)

Designed for Italian majors and correlates in their junior and senior year. 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.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

[ 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. Ms. Bondavalli.

Prerequisite: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or equivalent

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

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 Pier Paolo Pasolini's Mamma Roma, Federico Fellini's City of Women, Lina Wertmüller's Love and Anarchy, Bernardo Bertolucci's Besieged, Pappi Corsicato's Libera. Readings of pertinent works from feminist film theory in English and Italian. Ms. Blumenfeld.

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

[ 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.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

[ 385a. Three Contemporary Women Writers: Dacia Maraini, Rossana Campo, Liana Borghi ](1)

This course explores new literary styles that reflect the new freedoms of contemporary Italian women and women writers. We study the texts of these writers from the 1970s to 1990s, from the early days of feminist activism, to recent transformations in literature and politics, asking whether postmodernism leads to the de-ideologization of feminism. Ms. Blumenfeld.

Prerequisite: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or equivalent.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

[ 386b. Italian Folklore ](1)

Designed for Italian majors and correlates in their junior and senior year. Students in this course attend the same lectures as in Italian 286, but do the readings in the original, attend a separate discussion class, and take separate exams.

Prerequisite: Italian 220 or 222 or 280 or equivalent.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

[ 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.

Alternate years: not offered in 2009/10.

399. Senior Independent Work(1/2 or 1)

Eastern College Consortium Program in Bologna

Courses are subject to change. for information please consult the department and the E.C.C.O. website: http://www.eccoprogram.it

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(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. Intensive Italian for Academic Purposes(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 is divided between theory and practice, study and action.

246. The Hundred Bodies of Cinema: From Celluloid to Pixels, Films to Videogames(1)

The roll of film seems to have lost its central role as the model for today's cinema; it goes inside an iPod after having come out of a DVD.  This course examines the diverse forms of cinema over time, identifying technological innovations and  recurrent characteristics of film.

 

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. Urban Studies: The History and Archtecture of Bologna and Emilia Romagna(1)

The goal of the course is to provide the tools with which to recognize the urbanistic and historical dimensions of the problems of urban centers. In tandem with classroom lectures, students will undertake field research in Bologna, take guided excursions to other urban centers, and learn about historical cartography through the use of digital technology.

251. Writing Workshop(1/2)

This course assists students in program and University of Bologna courses in sharpening their writing skills. Optional for yearlong 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. Great Italian Writers(1)

The course proposes an exploration of the relationship between writers and the geographical places that inspired their work. The Tuscan countryside, small-town Romagna, multicultural Trieste become literary microcosms for poets and novelists between nineteenth and twentieth century.

285. Bizzarre Artists of the Renaissance(1)

This course explores the paradigm of the irregular in European Renaissance art. Vasari's description of "bizarre artists" served as a point of departure for determining the norm in official artistic culture. Through iconography and stylistic analysis, the course examines how art played an integral role in the political and religious movements of the Cinquecento.