Language, Culture, and Italian Identities
This course aims to give an insight into the linguistic, cultural and sociological complexity of the ‘notion of Italy’. The topics studied, based primarily on literary texts but also taking into consideration other areas such as contemporary history, social studies and art history, include some of the major themes of Italian culture as well as examples of the various ‘identities’ that Italy offers today: the role played by Italian intellectuals in the construction of Italy as a nation, the long-lasting question of language, as well as the question of political and cultural unity, the Mafia and the institution of family-based structures, the Italian literary canon and the contemporary ideas of culture and literature.
Contemporary Italian Narrative in Translation
(Prerequisite: EN 110)
This course is based on the analysis of excerpts from eight Italian novels that highlight the development of this genre in the twentieth century. Each student will also read one novel in its entirety. Through lectures and class discussions, emphasis will be placed on the author's social and political concerns and her or his role as writer and intellectual in Italian society. Students will also develop the ability to analyze literary texts according to language, style and content, and will be encouraged to participate in class discussions about the texts. In order to provide insight into the novels, as well as to stimulate classroom debate and discussion, the texts will be supplemented with selected background information, scholarly criticism, and visual media.
Special Topics in Italian Studies
(Prerequisite: EN 110)
An in-depth treatment of an area of concern within the field of Italian Studies. Topics may vary.
May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.
Dante's Inferno in Art, Literature and Film
(Prerequisite: EN 110)
This course undertakes an interdisciplinary reading of the Dante's Inferno from the perspectives of comparative literature, the history of art, music, and the history of cinema. Selected primary sources from across the fine arts over seven centuries of reception include architectural (Palacio Barolo, Terraglia’s ‘Danteum”) literary (from Chaucer to Heaney) visual (from medieval mss. to Blake to Rauschenberg to Greenaway), musical (Franz Liszt, Puccini) and sculptural (Rodin, etc.) "interpretations."
This course surveys films, directors and film movements and styles in Italy from 1945 to the present. The films are examined as complex aesthetic and signifying systems with wider social and cultural relationships to post-war Italy. The role of Italian cinema as participating in reconstitution and maintenance of post-War Italian culture and as a tool of historiographic inquiry is also investigated. Realism, modernism and post-modernism are discussed in relation to Italian cinema in particular and Italian society in general. Films are shown in the original Italian version with English subtitles.
An analysis of the social, aesthetic, political, and rhetorical implications of cinematic representations of Rome, from silent films to the present. This course will evaluate and discuss ten primary films, along with excerpts from a number of others. We will consider five main topics: Images of Ancient Rome; Before and After World War II; "Americans" in Rome, and Rome in America; Fellini’s Rome; and Urban Angst, Roman Style. As the semester progresses, we will consider how Rome functions as a "character" in the movies, as well as how The Eternal City comprises the mise-en-scène. We will assess the artistic representations of Roman monuments and streetscapes on movie sets, as opposed to location shooting. Special attention will be given to memory construction, as well as the rhetoric of "places and spaces" (how the physical/symbolic setting influences us). In this course, students will visit cinematic landmarks in Rome and write about their experiences.
Popular Italian Cinema
This course seeks to provide frameworks for understanding the popularity of Italian cinema, its historical and cultural development, and the variety and pleasures that the category includes. This course seeks to examine the extraordinary historical popularity of cinema in Italy, providing the scholarly tools to analyze entertainment from the beginning of the sound era to contemporary cinema and will include examples of horror, peplum, melodrama, western and commedia all’italiana. It will enable students to develop critical tools of analysis both for cinema and for cultural studies, and is designed to complement – although not overlap with – other film courses on offer in the university.
Italian Media and Popular Culture
This course will introduce students to contemporary Italian media and popular cultures. The course has a thematic approach and applies the analytical theories of critical cultural studies. Students will be exposed to development of various media forms as they have been shaped by and their impact on Italian culture and society. The press, film, radio, television, popular music, comics and graphic arts, sports and digital networks will be investigated from a variety of angles with particular attention on the media’s role in the construction of collective identities, the role of power and capital in shaping national identity, media use by social movements, the question of representation, popular protest and subcultural and subaltern expressions within the national space. Italy’s role within the global media economy will also be investigated.
The Art of Literary Translation
(Prerequisite: Junior Standing)
This course aims to develop the creative, editorial, and reading habits needed for literary translation; to develop an awareness of the theories associated with the practice of translating a work of literary excellence from one language into another; to foster an aesthetic sensibility for use in literary translation. Students will read and discuss theoretical texts and will create their own translations of works by authors that will be chosen by each student. These translations will be presented to the class in a traditional workshop format, with emphasis on analysis of the difficulties posed by the chosen text(s) and a justification for the choices made in rendering the texts into English. Students will compile a portfolio of the translations they produce during the term, having become familiar with the skills and sensitivities needed to translate works of literary merit and to discern the characteristics of quality literary translation.
Dante's Divine Comedy
(Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above)
The course is an introduction to a critical reading of Dante’s Divine Comedy in its historical, philosophical, religious, and poetic contexts. Readings of Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise seek to identify Dante’s stylistic and thematic contributions to the literary world as well as to understand their relationship with medieval politics, philosophy, and culture. This course is taught in English.
Modern Italian Drama in Translation
(Prerequisite: One previous course in English literature or permission of the instructor)
An in-depth study of Italian drama of the 20th century. Plays by Betti, Chiarelli, De Filippo, Fabbri, Fo, Maraini, and Pirandello are analyzed with special emphasis on plot, theme, character, structure, and technique. Social and existential problems of our time, as seen by the playwrights, are given particular consideration.
Sociology of Southern Italy
This course will examine the Italian Mezzogiorno starting with this paradox – the reality of a society often engaged in rapid social change but one where change itself often appears impossible. We will look at the modern history of the region briefly, moving on to major themes and questions concerning how the Italian South has developed since the Unification of Italy and especially in recent decades. Issues to be studied include underdevelopment, modernization, social capital and civic spirit or the lack of it, the argument that the South is characterized by “amoral community”, the whys and hows of the great emigration of the last century, the land reforms after World War II, the attempt to overcome the region’s underdevelopment with the Fund for the Mezzogiorno, the issue of clientelist and corrupt politics, organized crime including the Sicilian Mafia, the Neapolitan Camorra, and the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, the anti-Mafia movement, the current crisis of waste removal in Naples and its causes, the changing role of women in Southern society, and others.
Rome: Modern City (On-site)
This on-site course, which will be conducted in English, aims to introduce students to a sociological analysis of contemporary Rome. It focuses on the changes which are occurring in the city’s populations, its neighborhoods and patterns of daily life and commerce, and challenges conventional images of what it is to be a Roman today. On-site classes will be held in a variety of neighborhoods in the city in order to analyze the area’s role as a social entity and its relationship with the wider urban context. We will examine the issues and problems facing Rome today, such as housing, degradation and renewal, environmental questions, transportation, multiculturalism, wealth and poverty, social conflict and political identities. These issues will be contextualized within theories of urban sociology and also within an explanation of Rome’s urban development over the centuries and, in particular, since it became the national capital in 1870. Through readings, film clips, interviews and guest speakers, students will also analyze the way the city is narrated by some of its residents.
Contemporary Italian Society
This course introduces students to the complexities of contemporary Italian society, taking a primarily ‘bottom-up’ social science approach by examining a wide variety of social contexts and exploring the ways in which Italians express, negotiate and transform their cultural and social identities. By drawing on a growing body of anthropological and sociological research, it provides students with the tools to question rigid and dated assumptions about Italian social life and enables them to analyze its multifaceted, dynamic and often contradictory forms and practices. Students thereby also develop a framework for interpreting their daily experiences and encounters outside the classroom context.
Researching Rome: Fieldwork in the City of Rome
(Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites but it is strongly recommended that students have a background in contemporary Italian studies or anthropology/sociology/urban studies.)
This course provides structure and guidance to students who would like to do an independent fieldwork project in the city of Rome. As a very unique global city, Rome’s contemporary social, economic and political realities provide a fascinating context for observing and analyzing the production of culture, social and political change, and practices of everyday life. This seminar-style course guides each student through the four main phases of their research project, helping them to: a) select a manageable and realistic case-study for their research, b) identify and interpret relevant theoretical and empirical literature, c) choose the most appropriate techniques of fieldwork observation, data collection and recording, and apply them in a rigorous, ethical and reflexive manner in the city of Rome, d) create a sophisticated written and visual report of their research findings and conclusions.
In addition to each student's independent project, the class visits a number of Roman neighborhoods to apply theories and observation techniques learned throughout the course.