Italian Department

Advisers: The department.

Courses are conducted in Italian, except for ITAL 168, ITAL 175, ITAL 177, ITAL 237, ITAL 250, and ITAL 255.

Programs

Major

Correlate Sequence in Italian

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

Courses

Italian: I. Introductory

105a. Elementary Italian (1)

Introduction to the language and culture of contemporary Italy through short stories and plays, opera and popular music, film and popular culture. This sequence course (105-106) is designed for students who have no prior knowledge of Italian. The course objective is to develop listening, speaking, reading, writing skills through communicative and interactive in-class activities (e.g., games and role-playing) and at-home assignments. Through successful completion of the 105-106 sequence, students will be able to: 1) increase their awareness and understanding of the culture of the Italian-speaking people; 2) conduct meaningful dialogue in Italian, using appropriate vocabulary and grammatical structures; 3) read and understand text selections appropriate to their level; 4) write brief descriptions and narratives on given topics. Students are encouraged to attend extra-curricular activities organized by the department and by the Italian Majors' Committee, such as opera evenings at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Italian Cinema Club, card nights, cooking classes, and guest lectures by invited scholars. The department.

Electronic versions of required materials are not accepted.

Yearlong course 105-ITAL 106.

Open to all classes; four 50-minute periods; one hour of drill and one hour of aural-oral practice.

106b. Elementary Italian (1)

The department.

Electronic versions of required materials are not accepted.

Yearlong course ITAL 105-106.

Open to all classes; four 50-minute periods; one hour of drill and one hour of aural-oral practice.

107a and b. Intensive Elementary Italian (2)

A single-semester equivalent of ITAL 105-ITAL 106. Ms. Antognini (a), Ms. Bondavalli (b).

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

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.

168a and b. Food Culture and Italian Identity (1)

How did spaghetti and meatballs become the symbol of Italian cuisine in the United States? Is it true that pasta was not invented in Italy? How did a cookbook contribute to the creation of national identity? Could abolishing pastasciutta make Italians more optimistic?

Images of food and dinner tables pervade Italian art and literature, celebrating pleasures or projecting desires, passing on traditions or stirring revolutions. In this course we examine how eating and cooking habits intersect with material and cultural changes in Italy at various times, ranging from the Middle Ages to the present. We investigate how issues of personal, regional, and national identity are shaped and expressed by food habits. Fiction and non-fiction writings, recipes, documentary and fiction film, advertising, and television shows provide the basis for discussion and writing assignments. Ms. Bondavalli.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar. May not be counted towards the Italian major.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

In this course we examine the notion of selfhood as it first appears in the writings of early humanists (XIV century), Renaissance authors (XVI century) and works of contemporary visual artists. Cultural, philosophical, aesthetic, and gender issues are investigated through the reading of literary and theatrical masterpieces and their influence on visual artists like Botticelli, Raphael, and others.  We read in English translation excerpts from Petrarch (Canzoniere and Letters), Boccaccio (Decameron), poems and letters by women humanists (Isotta Nogarola, Cassandra Fedele, Laura Cereta), Machiavelli (The Prince), Castiglione (The Book of the Courtier), Gaspara Stampa and Veronica Franco (Poems). In order to foster the student's self-awareness and creativity, journaling, experiential practices, and a creative project, based on the course content, are included. Mr. Giusti.

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

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

177a. Italy and the Modern Self (1)

In this course we analyze the ways in which the experience of modernity has shaped Italian literature at the beginning of the 20th century. In particular we focus on the crisis of the self and its literary expressions: fragmentation, illness, madness, but also masquerading and performance. Frequently employed as metaphors for the alienated 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. While the radical changes in material and social structures, gender roles, moral values challenge traditional certainties, artists and intellectuals challenge formal traditions and provide multiple definitions of the modern experience. Readings include works, in English translation, by Luigi Pirandello, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Eugenio Montale, Italo Svevo and others. As a Freshman Writing Seminar, the course is designed to help students develop analytical and critical skills, and to practice clear and persuasive writing. Students produce a variety of brief informal writing assignments and formal interpretive essays. Ms. Bondavalli.

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

Not offered in 2015/16.

178a. With Dante in Hell (1)

Where is Hell? Who goes there? Why? Is it organized? How can a poet know so much about it? We read the Inferno in the context of Italy in the Middle Ages. Topics include: political persecution and expulsion, the reciprocal imitation of Empire and Church, the interaction of desire, deceit, and violence, the dialogue of the classical past and the chaotic present, proto-capitalism and radical religious poverty. There are also selected readings from some of Dante's sources, parallel texts, and critical responses to the poem from the fourteenth-century to the present. Using a bilingual edition, we read the poem in translation with a glance at the original Italian. There are brief weekly writing assignments. Mr. Ahern.

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

Two 75-minute periods.

Italian: II. Intermediate

205a and b. Intermediate Italian I (1)

An intermediate language course designed to reinforce and build upon the communication and cultural competencies acquired at the introductory level, while improving reading comprehension, writing and conversational skills. A variety of texts from different genres, both written and audiovisual, provide the context for activities aimed at facilitating grammar review and expansion, vocabulary development, and writing practice. Short stories, essays, poems, newspaper articles, websites, pop songs, videos, and a feature film will provide material for analysis and discussion. The department.

Prerequisite: ITAL 105-ITAL 106, ITAL 107 or permission of the instructor.

Electronic versions of required materials are not accepted.

Two 75-minute periods and one hour of conversation.

206b. Intermediate Italian II (1)

An upper-intermediate language and culture course designed to improve reading comprehension and refine oral and written expression. The reading of coming-of-age novel Io non ho paura (I am not scared) by Niccolò Ammaniti provides ample opportunities to discuss childhood activities, family life, regional and social differences, popular music, television, comic books, nature and landscape in 1970s Italy. Grammar review is conducted in context, while the novel's conversational style stimulates vocabulary expansion. We also analyze the film adaptation of the novel and discuss authorial choices in both media. Writing assignments range from analytical to creative, while brief presentations allow students to explore specific aspects of the novel and develop effective oral expression. Ms. Bondavalli.

Prerequisite: ITAL 205 or permission of the instructor.

Electronic versions of required materials are not accepted.

Two 75-minute periods and one hour of conversation.

217a. Advanced Composition and Oral Expression (1)

Topic for 2015/16a: "Andiamo in Italia". An Analysis of Geographical, Cultural and Linguistic Differences. The course is based on the website "Ritorniamo in Italia" produced by Vassar's Film and Italian Departments. "Ritorniamo" offers extensive geographical, cultural and linguistic information about four Italian cities: Roma, Siena, Venezia, and Bologna. A thorough study of its topics will expand the student's knowledge of Italian language and culture. Excerpts from novels, essays, newspaper articles, websites, films' segments will integrate the DVD's material. During our exploration of the different regions of Italy the student will create his/her own virtual journey, keep a travel log, and regularly report its entries during class conversations. Mr. Giusti.

Prerequisite: ITAL 205, ITAL 206 or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

218a. Giorgio Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Contini's (1)

Giorgio Bassani (1916-2000), novelist, poet, essayist wrote this classic of modern Italian literature in 1962.  Through the story of the Finzi-Continis, a wealthy Jewish family from Ferrara,

Bassani recounts an important part of Italian history: Mussolini's Fascist regime with its race laws, persecutions, and deportations.  However, this is not simply a 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 language, history, literature, and culture.  Particular attention will be devoted to the development of oral and written skills.  Individual and group multi-media projects. Ms. Antognini.

Prerequisite: ITAL 206, ITAL 217 or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

220b. Thirteenth-Sixteenth Century Italian Culture (1)

From the origins of the Italian language to the masterpieces of the Renaissance. The goal of this course is to introduce students to some of the major authors of the first four centuries of Italian literature, their cultural and philosophical background, and the reading of their works in the Italian vernacular. With the use of multi-media supports, and applying a wide range of strategies to experience, comprehend, interpret, and evaluate the texts, we will read brief but significant selections from each author's major works. Among others, we will read: Dante's Vita Nuova and Divine Comedy, Petrarch's Canzoniere (lyric poetry); Boccaccio's Decameron (fiction); Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (epic poetry); Compiuta Donzella, Stampa, and Franco on gender and literature. Mr. Giusti.

Prerequisite: ITAL 217, ITAL 218 or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

The course introduces students to the transformation of Italian society from the second half of the 20th century to the present through its cinematic representation: movements of protest in the Sixties, the political terrorism of the Seventies, the crisis of ideology in the Eighties, the fall of the First Republic and the emergence of Berlusconi in the Nineties, globalized crime and post-ideological forms of social commitment in the new millennium. While previous experience with film studies is not required, the course is designed to train students to approach film critically and become familiar with the basic terms of film analysis in Italian. The viewing and discussion of films will be accompanied by critical readings and regular writing practice. Films by Marco Bellocchio, Nanni Moretti, Matteo Garrone, and Marco Tullio Giordana, among others. The course is conducted in Italian. Films are in Italian with English subtitles. Ms. Bondavalli.

Prerequisite: ITAL 217, ITAL 218 or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

237b. The Divine Comedy: With Dante in Heaven (1)

(Same as RELI 237) The course is an overview of Dante's Paradise as a spiritual journey. We read the Paradise in the cultural and social context of Dante's life and the city of Florence in the late Middle Ages, with special attention to theological, literary and astrological symbolism. Topics explored include: the relationship between love and knowledge; gender and salvation; spirituality and mortality; chaos and cosmos. Critical responses to the poem from the fourteenth-century to the present, as well as discussion of various art-works inspired by this masterpiece, aid us in our study. The course has a multidisciplinary approach and includes music, movement, videos, creative writing and contemplative practices. Conducted in English. Ms. Biagi.

Open to all classes.

Two 75-minute periods.

238b. Dante's Divine Comedy in Translation (1)

Not offered in 2015/16.

242b. Boccaccio's Decameron in Translation: The (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 ITAL 342.

Two 75-minute periods.

250b. Italian Cinema in English (1)

Italian cinema is studied through interdisciplinary analyses of historical, social and political changes in Italy. From Fascism to post-war reconstruction, to neo-capitalism and the troubles of the '68 generation, and finally to the current national crisis of identity, we explore the cinematic power to symbolize as a matter of privilege. Class, gender, race, and the normative State are concepts through which we examine the paradoxes of an increasingly multi-cultural and multi-ethnic nation. Close readings of films explore the genres, ideologies, and filmic techniques of important trends and phases in Italian film: the Neorealism of the 40s, the auteur cinema of the 50s, 60s and 70s, the political films of the 80s, and the postmodern satires of current directors. Cinematic interpretive skills are developed through visual and linguistic exercises, group projects, and film-making. Conducted in EnglishMs. Blumenfeld.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. May be counted towards the Italian major.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

(Same as FILM 255) Close analysis of the narrative and visual styles of Bernardo Bertolucci, Lina Wertmüller, Gianni Amelio 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 film-such as psychoanalytic film theory, feminist theory, deconstruction, and post-colonial analyses of dominant discourses-aid us in addressing questions of style and of political and social significance. Cinematic interpretive skills are developed through visual and linguistic exercises, group projects, and film-making. Conducted in English. Ms. Blumenfeld.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. May be counted towards the Italian major.

Two 75-minute periods and two film screenings.

282b. Italian Fictions (1)

Analysis of short fiction and a film. Practice in spoken and written Italian. Advanced Grammar review. Mr. Ahern.

Prerequisite: ITAL 205 or permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period and one 1-hour period of conversation.

290a or b. Field Work (0.5to1)

297a or b. Reading Course (0.5)

Topic for 297.01: Topics in Seventeenth Century.

Topic for 297.02: Topics in Eighteenth Century.

Topic for 297.03: Topics in Nineteenth Century.

The department.

298a or b. Independent Work (0.5to1)

Italian: III. Advanced

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 2015/16b: The Impossible Task of Translating: An Introduction of Literary Translation from Italian to English.Whether translation between two languages is at all possible is a question as old as translating itself, but no matter how many answers have been given, the truth of the matter remains that we have always translated and we will continue to do so. Translation studies have flourished in the last few years and literary translation is more and more considered a creative undertaking rather than an unoriginal and quite tedious activity. Given the intrinsic bilingualism of the foreign literature classroom, translation is particularly intertwined with teaching and learning and becomes an integral part of the course. As a result, many students choose to complete their B.A. in Italian with a literary translation. Translating is above all a decision process- careful interpretation and intelligent notation- and as such it requires passion, accuracy, careful attention to details, together with a knowledge and understanding of both the source and the target language and culture. This course aims to give students of Italian some insight into the field -historical and theoretical-as well as a solid grasp of the tools required to be a literary translator. While analyzing different translation strategies and doing practical exercises, such as contrasting and comparing different versions of the same source text, students will devote time to studying not only Italian grammar but also English. By the end of the semester, they will produce a final original translation, accompanied by a "translation diary", a meta-textual description of the problems encountered during their work. Our theoretical background will be Umberto Eco's considerations on translating, both as a writer and as a translator. Ms. Antognini.

Prerequisite: ITAL 220, ITAL 222 or ITAL 218 with permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

302a. Senior Project (0.5)

The course is intended to provide Italian majors, who have chosen to produce a senior project, with a collective and regular learning environment. They will receive systematic guidance from their instructor, and discuss problems they encounter in various stages of their project creation with both the instructor and their peers. The class meets three times a semester for two hours. One hour individual meetings are scheduled bi-weekly. Mr. Giusti.

Prerequisite: one 300-level course.

Year-long course (302-ITAL 303).

303b. Senior Project (0.5)

The course is intended to provide Italian majors, who have chosen to produce a senior project, with a collective and regular learning environment. They will receive systematic guidance from their instructor, and discuss problems they encounter in various stages of their project creation with both the instructor and their peers. The class meets three times a semester for two hours. One hour individual meetings are scheduled bi-weekly. Mr. Giusti.

Prerequisite: one 300-level course.

Year-long course (ITAL 302-303).

320b. The Language of Desire and the Modern Self (1)

The course explores ways in which early writers in the Italian vernacular developed the modern concept of selfhood and articulated it through the language of desire. We investigate intimate expressions of both spiritual and physical longing, and analyze how the affirmation of one's desire requires striking a balance with, or even bending, social norms of gender, ethics, spirituality, and class. We read texts and selections from, among others, San Francis of Assisi, Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio, Isotta Nogarola, Castiglione, Gaspara Stampa, Veronica Franco e Michelangelo. Mr. Giusti.

Prerequisites: ITAL 220, 222, or 218 with permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

338b. Literary Masterpieces: 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.

Prerequisite: ITAL 220, ITAL 222 or ITAL 218 with permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

342b. Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron: The (1)

A 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 devoted to the Decameron's frame as a connective tissue for the one hundred tales and a space for gender debate and social re-creation. Reference is made to some of the Decameron's subtexts (Apuleius' The Golden Ass, the Novellino, the French Fabliaux, and Courtly Literature). Critical interpretations are analyzed after the reading of the entire masterpiece. Issues related to textual censorship, and contemporary re-writings through different media are addressed. Mr. Giusti.

Prerequisite: ITAL 220, ITAL 222 or ITAL 218 with permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2-hour period.

375b. Fictions of Youth: Youth Culture in Twentieth-Century Italian Literature (1)

The course examines the relationship between youth and literature in post-WWII Italy from a double perspective: adolescents as a literary subject, as protagonists of fiction and non-fiction, and as authors. Variously associated with innocence and vitality, innovation and peril, self-creation and anti-authoritarianism, youth long embodied individual and social ideals and fears in literature. In the twentieth century, it also increasingly suggested uncertainty and incompletion. As adolescence acquired importance in both the historical landscape and collective imagination, its symbolic connotations became progressively unstable. When young people wrote about themselves and their peers, first-hand experience mixed with inherited notions in unexpected ways. Using the Bildungsroman as a narrative model for the representation of youth in modern fiction, we study the different ways in which European and American coming-of-age novels influence modern Italian literature. The significance of youth in post-Fascist Italy, the construction of a generational identity through media and popular culture, and the creation of a new literary language for the expression of youth are some of the topics we address. Readings by Pasolini, Moravia, Tondelli, Brizzi, Santacroce, and others. Ms. Bondavalli.

Prerequisites: ITAL 220, 222, 218 or permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

380b. Modernity in Italy (1)

This course explores different manifestations of modernity in Italian literature and culture in the early twentieth century. We will consider both objective and subjective transformations, focusing on the impact of urban life, war, Fascism, and technological modernization on literary creation and its aesthetic and social function. How do Italian writers of the early 20th century relate to modernity and define it? How are the ideas of progress, tradition, and avant-garde defined, expressed and questioned? How does the affirmation of mass culture affect the perceived role of poets? How do artists and intellectuals redefine their role in relation to bourgeois materialism, war propaganda, censorship, or spectacular politics? These are some of the questions that will inform textual analysis, class discussion and students' writing. In studying specifically Italian modernism, we also investigate how its origins at the peripheries of the nation shape its relation to Italian history and literary tradition. The texts examined include poetry, narrative, theory, and programmatic writings by such authors as Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Guido Gozzano, Aldo Palazzeschi, Luigi Pirandello, Italo Svevo, Eugenio Montale among others. Ms. Bondavalli.

Prerequisite: ITAL 220, ITAL 222 or ITAL 218 with permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2-hour period.

381b. 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: ITAL 220, ITAL 222 or ITAL 218 with the permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

384b. Folk Culture (1)

When Italy became a kingdom in 1861, the question of a "national language" came to the forefront: What should standard Italian be? As language defines the identity of the speaker, another related question began to rise: What does it mean to be Italian? Throughout the 20th century the choice between the use of standard Italian and the various regional dialects became a socio-political choice. The aim of this class is to select specific case studies to look at: the construction of an "Italian identity;" how dialects have survived the unification of standard Italian; the use of folk tales and folk songs to maintain a people's memory, rituals, and local tradition; the artistic folk revival movements of the 1960s and the 1990s; the use of dialects in cinema, music and theatre. Ms. Biagi.

Prerequisite: Italian 220, 222, or Italian 217 and 218 with permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

385b. Three Contemporary Women Writers: Dacia Maraini, Rossana Campo, Laila Wadia (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: ITAL 220, ITAL 222 or ITAL 218 with permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2-hour period.

389b. The Impossible Task of Translating: An Introduction of Literary Translation from Italian to English (1)

Whether translation between two languages is at all possible is a question as old as translating itself, but no matter how many answers have been given, the truth of the matter remains that we have always translated and we will continue to do so. Translation studies have flourished in the last few years and literary translation is more and more considered a creative undertaking rather than an unoriginal and quite tedious activity. Given the intrinsic bilingualism of the foreign literature classroom, translation is particularly intertwined with teaching and learning and becomes an integral part of the course. As a result, many students choose to complete their B.A. in Italian with a literary translation. Translating is above all a decision process-- careful interpretation and intelligent notation-- and as such it requires passion, accuracy, careful attention to details, together with a knowledge and understanding of both the source and the target language and culture. This course aims to give students of Italian some insight into the field --historical and theoretical--as well as a solid grasp of the tools required to be a literary translator. While analyzing different translation strategies and doing practical exercises, such as contrasting and comparing different versions of the same source text, students will devote time to studying not only Italian grammar but also English. By the end of the semester, they will produce a final original translation, accompanied by a "translation diary" , a metatextual description of the problems encountered during their work. Our theoretical background will be Umberto Eco's considerations on translating, both as a writer and as a translator. Ms. Antognini.

Prerequisite: ITAL 220, ITAL 222 or ITAL 218 with permission of the instructor.

Offered in 2015/16 as ITAL 301.

Two 75-minute periods.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (0.5to1)