Italian Studies

Last updated: September 10, 2014 at 3:13 p.m.

Objectives

Brandeis offers students the opportunity to focus on the cultural heritage of Italy from the inception of the Italian language to the present day. The study of Italy’s language and creative achievements enables a student to explore another culture in depth in preparation for study abroad and eventual graduate work or related opportunities in the workplace.

Italian studies provides a minor and an independent major (through an Independent Interdisciplinary Major or IIM) for those who wish to extend their study of Italian beyond language and culture to areas of Italian literature, history, film, art history, and music. The study of Italian within a variety of cultural contexts enables students to deepen their understanding of Italian culture beyond the boundaries of a single time frame, region, gender, genre, or academic discipline.

Students in the program work closely with an adviser to develop an individualized plan of study that balances the exploration of a broad range of topics and sectors with a focus on a single discipline or cultural period.

Learning Goals

Italian Studies is an interdepartmental program that prepares students to explore and understand several aspects of Italian culture while broadening analytical skills. Students who wish to pursue a minor will be required to take five courses from a range of disciplines, which include advanced Italian Language and Culture, Literature, Film Studies, Art History, Italian History, Music, and Classical Studies. The pursuit of these interests takes an interdisciplinary approach, encouraging students to study the culture of Italy from antiquity to the present both in depth and in breadth. Those who wish to pursue Italian Studies further can petition for an Independent major and discuss with the Italian Studies Faculty options for fulfilling the requirements. In such a case, the requirement is nine courses from the same core of suggested disciplines, including three additional courses given in Italian Language (such as ITAL 110 Introduction to Italian Literature, ITAL 120 Modern Italian Literature, ITAL 128 Mapping Italian Culture, ITAL 134 Italian Jewish Culture) offered at Brandeis or their equivalent taken through study abroad or the offerings of consortium institutions in Boston.

1. Knowledge:

  • An understanding of the fundamental contributions of Italy to the development of vernacular European literature, the Visual Arts and Architecture since Antiquity, and Western Music. In all of the fields, especially the latter, much of the technical terminology and core forms and concepts are Italian in origin.
  • Familiarity with the major writers, artists, monuments, and composers who contributed to the historical pre-eminence of Italian culture in literature (1300-1600), art and architecture (100 B.C.E - 500 C.E.; 1250 -1700), and Music (1500 - 1725).
  • An appreciation of the continuing dynamism and vitality of Italian culture from the Napoleonic era through the Risorgimento and to the present day in literature, music, opera, fine arts, architecture, film, design, and fashion.
  • An understanding of the key moments in Italian political history from the rival republics and princely courts of the Renaissance, to the unification during the Risorgimento, to the importance of the Italian Kingdom and Republic in European and Global affairs of the past century. Related to this is an understanding of the role these political entities played in fostering Italian culture.
  • An understanding of the social and religious diversity of Italy in the historical past and evolving present. This includes the dominant and fraught role of the Catholic Church and Papal States in Italian history and society, as well as minority communities.

2. Core Skills

  • To attain proficiency in all five language skills: speaking, writing, listening, reading, and socio-cultural awareness.
  • To communicate and express oneself in Italian at the expected range of proficiency (Intermediate-high to advanced-low for the minor, and from advanced-low to advanced-high for the independent major) in both everyday and academic settings.
  • To write prose clearly and effectively in Italian.
  • To acquire essential analytical skills in relation to art, literature, film, and music, and the ability to think critically about primary texts/ works.

3. Study Abroad
All students are strongly encouraged to study in Italy for a semester, a full year, or in intensive summer programs. Study abroad provides students with daily interaction in the target language and enables them to achieve two goals:

  • Greater linguistic precision in speaking, reading, writing and listening to the language.
  • The experience of living and learning the culture in an authentic setting.
  • The Italian Studies minor/independent major will obtain a greater understanding of human diversity based on the study or experience of different social backgrounds and settings, especially that obtained through time spent abroad.

4. Social Justice:

  • Italian humanist thinkers and political philosophers are essential to the development of historical and modern political theory as it applies to the Republic, Absolutism, Constitutional Democracy, Fascism, and Communism. Throughout its history, Italian political entities have served, for better or worse, as the venues for the implementation of such theories, thereby revealing both intended and unintended consequences of social interactions among diverse economic, cultural and religious communities.

5. Upon Graduation:

  • The Italian Studies minor or independent major will have the background to embark on graduate studies in Italian and/or Comparative literature.
  • The Italian Studies minor or independent major can employ one’s mastery of language and cultural background in any number of fields in which Italy makes a major contribution: Design, fashion, film, architecture, studio art, art history, hospitality, tourism, cuisine, international business, Italian translation, teaching, and medical and legal interpreting and translation. A minor or independent major in Italian Studies conspicuously enhances credentials in applying to graduate programs in these fields.

How to Fulfill the Language Requirement

In order to graduate, you must be able to function at an intermediate level in reading, writing, speaking, and listening in a foreign language. You may satisfy this requirement in several ways:

  • If you scored or 620 or higher on the SAT II language exam, 4 or higher on an Advanced Placement exam in language or literature, or 5 or higher on the International Baccalaureate Higher Levels Exam, you have completed the language requirement. We encourage you to continue your studies in our program (please see below to choose a course at the appropriate level).
  • If you pass an exam that shows you have gained an intermediate-level proficiency in Italian, you will have completed the language requirement. Please contact Professor Hollie Harder (harder@brandeis.edu) to make arrangements to take the Proficiency Exam.
  • OR, you may study a language at Brandeis. When you complete a 30-level course with a passing grade, you will have satisfied the language requirement.
Students with further questions about the language requirement should contact the Director of Language Programs, Professor Hollie Harder (harder@brandeis.edu).

How to Become a Minor

Students interested in learning more about the minor in Italian Studies or about studying abroad are encouraged to speak with the Undergraduate Advising Head.

How to Become an Independent Major

Students interested in an independent major option in Italian Studies should contact Academic Services for application information.

Committee

Paola Servino, Co-Chair and Undergraduate Advising Head of Italian Studies Program (on leave spring 2015)
(Romance Studies)

Ramie Targoff, Co-Chair of Italian Studies Program
(English)

Seth Coluzzi
(Music)

William Kapelle
(History)

Alice Kelikian
(History)

Ann O. Koloski-Ostrow
(Classical Studies)

Charles McClendon
(Fine Arts)

Jonathan Unglaub
(Fine Arts)

Cheryl Walker
(Classical Studies)

Requirements for the Minor

A minor in Italian Studies consists of five semester courses:

A. One or two advanced language and culture course(s): ITAL 105a and/or ITAL 106a.

B. Two upper level courses in Italian: ITAL 110a, 120b, 128a, or 134b.

C. One or two of the Italian Studies electives listed below or two other courses on Italian-related culture approved by the student’s Italian Studies advisor. CLAS 145b and FA 191b may count towards the minor when the topic is related to Italian Studies.

D. No grade below a C- will be given credit toward the minor.

E. No course taken pass/fail may count toward the minor requirements.

Special Notes Relating to Undergraduates

Minors in Italian Studies are encouraged to study abroad for all or part of their junior year.

How to Choose a Course at the Appropriate Level

For more information, please refer to the Registrar’s website at www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#italtest or to the Department of Romance Studies website.

Courses of Instruction

(1-99) Primarily for Undergraduate Students

FYS 48a JustBooks: Voicing the Outrage of Silence, Social Justice and the Mafia
[ hum ]
Examines the Mafia and issues of social justice in contemporary Italy. We will take an in-depth look at both social reality and artistic representation in essays, novels, newspaper articles, and film. Readings will include Sciascia's The Day of the Owl and Saviano's Gomorrah. Offered as part of the JustBooks program.
Ms. Servino (Romance Studies)

ITAL 10a Beginning Italian
Prerequisite: For students with no previous study of Italian. Students enrolling for the first time in an Italian Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#italtest.
Offers an interactive and very lively approach to the learning of Italian. A systematic presentation of the basic grammar and vocabulary of the language within the context of Italian culture, with focus on all five language skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and socio-cultural awareness. Usually offered every fall.
Ms. Monteleone or Ms. Servino

ITAL 20b Continuing Italian
Prerequisite: For students with some previous study of Italian. A grade of C- or higher in ITAL 10a or the equivalent. Students enrolling for the first time in an Italian Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#italtest.
Continuing dynamic presentation of basic grammar and vocabulary within the context of Italian culture and practice of the five language skills. Special attention to reading and writing skills, as well as guided conversation. Usually offered every spring.
Ms. Monteleone or Ms. Servino

ITAL 30a Intermediate Italian
[ fl ]
Prerequisite: A grade of C- or higher in ITAL 20b or the equivalent. Students enrolling for the first time in an Italian Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#italtest.
Focuses on the development of fluency in the language. Spoken and written Italian will be improved through the study and the discussion of the most characteristic aspects of contemporary Italian culture. Through reading and discussion of short stories, newspaper and journal articles and selected text as well as through the viewing of movie and video clips, the course promotes critical and analytical skills. Typical themes include social conflicts, Italian family, and education systems. Usually offered every fall.
Ms. Monteleone or Ms. Servino

ITAL 92a Internship in Italian Studies
May be taken with the written permission of the Undergraduate Advising Head.
Combines on- or off-campus internship experience related to Italian Studies with written analysis under the supervision of a faculty sponsor. This may include study-abroad documented projects. Students arrange their own internships. Counts only once toward the fulfillment of requirements for the Minor or the Independent Major. Usually offered every semester.
Staff

ITAL 97a Senior Essay
Students should consult the Undergraduate Advising Head before enrolling. May not be taken for credit by students who have satisfactorily completed ITAL 97b.
Offers students an opportunity to produce a senior essay under the direction of an individual instructor. Usually offered every fall.
Staff

ITAL 97b Senior Essay
Students should consult the Undergraduate Advising Head before enrolling. May not be taken for credit by students who have satisfactorily completed ITAL 97a.
Offers students an opportunity to produce a senior essay under the direction of an individual instructor. Usually offered every spring.
Staff

ITAL 98a Independent Study
May be taken only with the written permission of the Undergraduate Advising Head.
Reading and reports under faculty supervision. Usually offered every year.
Staff

ITAL 98b Independent Study
May be taken only with the written permission of the Undergraduate Advising Head.
Reading and reports under faculty supervision. Usually offered every year.
Staff

(100-199) For Both Undergraduate and Graduate Students

ITAL 105a Italian Conversation and Composition
[ fl hum wi ]
Prerequisite: ITAL 30a or the equivalent. Students enrolling for the first time in an Italian Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#italtest.
Provides students with an opportunity to develop their oral and written proficiency in Italian, while familiarizing themselves with different facets of contemporary Italian culture and society. Readings will be supplemented by films, videos and music. The course focuses on the expansion of vocabulary and the improvement of analytical, interpretive and presentational skills. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Monteleone

ITAL 106a Advanced Readings in Italian
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: ITAL 30a, ITAL 105a, or the equivalent. Students enrolling for the first time in an Italian Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#italtest.
Close study and analysis of representative Italian texts (prose, poetry, drama) and culture. Each year, emphasis will be given to a specific theme, for example, works by Italian women writers. Reading and listening activities followed by in-class discussions and presentations are designed to enhance the student's reading skills. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Servino or Staff

ITAL 110a Introduction to Italian Literature
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: ITAL 30a, 105a, 106a, or the equivalent.
Surveys the masterpieces of Italian literature from Dante to 1700. It is designed to introduce the student to the major authors and literary periods, styles, and genres and present an overview of the history of the literature. Conducted in Italian. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Servino

ITAL 120b Modern Italian Literature
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: ITAL 30a, 105a, 106a, or the equivalent.
Focuses on the literature of twentieth-century writers such as Sciascia, Lampedusa, Calvino, and Moravia as well as contemporary writers, such as Baricco, Tamaro, Mazzantini, and Giordano with emphasis on the theme of historical, individual, and familial identity within the context of traumatic socio-economic upheaval and transformative cultural events. Several films based on these works will also be examined, with emphasis on an analysis of cinematic innovation. Conducted in Italian. Usually offered every other year.
Ms. Servino

ITAL 128a Mapping Modern Italian Culture: Inherited Conflicts
[ fl hum oc ]
Prerequisites: ITAL 105a or 106a. Conducted in Italian with Italian texts.
Covers a broad and significant range of cultural topics that exemplify creative responses to historical events and social dilemmas that have shaped contemporary Italian culture including economic changes, the new face of immigration in Italy, and the social fight against the Mafia and Camorra through literature and cinema. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Servino

ITAL 134b Nella cultura ebraica italiana: cinema e letteratura
[ fl hum wi ]
Prerequisite: ITAL 105a or equivalent. Conducted in Italian. Materials fee: $20.
Analyzes Italian Jewish representations in Italian culture from the founding of the ghetto in Venice in 1516 to modern times. Works of Italian Jewish writers and historians are examined as well as Italian movies that address Jewish themes within the mainstream of Italian culture. This course has an interdisciplinary approach while focusing on advanced Italian language skills. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Servino

Electives

CLAS 115b Topics in Greek and Roman History
[ hum wi ]
Topics vary from year to year and the course may be repeated for credit with permission of the instructor. Topics include the Age of Alexander the Great, the Age of Pericles, the Greekness of Alexander, and Imperialism in Antiquity. See the Schedule of Classes for the current topic. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Walker

CLAS 120a Age of Caesar
[ hum wi ]
The life and times of Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE) viewed through primary texts in a variety of genres: from Caesar himself to contemporaries Cicero and Catullus and biographers Plutarch and Suetonius. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Walker

CLAS 134b The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Rome
[ ca hum ]
Surveys the art and architecture of the ancient Romans from the eighth century BCE to the end of the empire in Sicily, mainland Italy (with focus on Rome, Ostia, Pompeii, and Herculaneum), and in the Roman provinces. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Koloski-Ostrow

CLAS 140a Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Greek and Roman Art and Text
[ ca hum ]
An exploration of women, gender, and sexuality in ancient Greece and Rome as the ideological bases of Western attitudes toward sex and gender. Includes, in some fashion, Greek and Roman myth, literature, art, architecture, and archaeological artifacts. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Koloski-Ostrow

CLAS 150b Pompeii: Life in the Shadow of Vesuvius
[ ca hum ]
Examines Pompeii and Herculaneum, buried by Vesuvius in 79 CE, using the ancient cities' art, architecture, and wall writings to understand the social, political, economic, and religious realities of Roman life on the Bay of Naples, especially in the first century CE. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Koloski-Ostrow

CLAS 151a Greece, Rome, Myth, and the Movies
[ hum ]
Explores classical mythology through several key texts to demonstrate the strong connections between antiquity and our own society, especially as revealed in an array of modern cinematic experiments. Charts the transformation of these myths for our own cultural needs. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Koloski-Ostrow

CLAS 165a Roman Sex, Violence, and Decadence in Translation
[ hum wi ]
Famous Roman texts (200 BCE-200 CE) are read from social, historical, psychological, literary, and religious viewpoints. The concept of "Roman decadence" is challenged both by the Roman literary accomplishment itself and by its import on subsequent periods. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Koloski-Ostrow

CLAS 166a Medieval Literature: A Millennium of God, Sex, and Death
[ hum wi ]
A survey of medieval Latin literature in translation, beginning with the fourth-century church fathers and ending with the early Renaissance. Includes Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, Egeria, Jordanes, Gregory of Tours, Isidore of Seville, Bede, Alcuin, Einhard, Hroswitha, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Hildegard, Anselm, and others. Usually offered every fourth year.
Ms. Walker

COML 103b Madness and Folly in Renaissance Literature
[ hum wi ]
A study of the theme of madness and folly as exemplified by the major writers of the Renaissance, including Erasmus, Rabelais, Montaigne, Boccaccio, Ariosto, Shakespeare, Petrarch, and Cervantes. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Lansing

FA 45a Early Renaissance Art in Tuscany from the Age of Dante to the Medici
[ ca ]
Examines the development of late Medieval and Renaissance Art and Architecture between 1200 and 1500, with an emphasis on the centers of Siena and Florence, and artists who worked in these cities. Offered as part of Brandeis in Siena Study Abroad program.
Mr. Unglaub

FA 45b Art of the Early Renaissance in Italy
[ ca ]
May not be taken for credit by students who took FA 51a in prior years.
Examines major painters, sculptors, and architects in Florence, Rome, and Venice from Giotto to Bellini (1290-1500). Important themes include the revival of Antiquity, the visual arts and the culture of Humanism, the Rise of the Medici, art and the ideal of the Republic, the development of art theory and criticism, Naturalism and the Sacred image, and the relation of artists and patrons during times of crisis (black death, Pazzi Conspiracy, and Savonarola). Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Unglaub

FA 46b High and Late Renaissance in Italy
[ ca ]
May not be taken for credit by students who took FA 58b in prior years.
Examines the major works of art produced in Italy in the sixteenth century. It focuses on the principal centers of Florence, Rome, and Venice. The foremost artists of the age, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian, receive in-depth coverage. The course also considers the social institutions, ecclesiastical, courtly and civic, that furnished the patronage opportunities and promoted the ideas that occasioned, even demanded, new artistic forms of grace and harmony, energy and torsion. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Unglaub

FA 145a St. Peter's and the Vatican
[ ca ]
The history, growth, and development of Christendom's most famous shrine, with particular concern for the relationship between the design and decoration of the Renaissance/baroque church and palace complex and their early Christian and medieval predecessors. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. McClendon

FYS 48a JustBooks: Voicing the Outrage of Silence, Social Justice and the Mafia
[ hum ]
Examines the Mafia and issues of social justice in contemporary Italy. We will take an in-depth look at both social reality and artistic representation in essays, novels, newspaper articles, and film. Readings will include Sciascia's The Day of the Owl and Saviano's Gomorrah. Offered as part of the JustBooks program.
Ms. Servino (Romance Studies)

HIST 123a The Renaissance
[ ss ]
Culture, society, and economy in the Italian city-state (with particular attention to Florence) from feudalism to the rise of the modern state. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Kapelle

HIST 131a Hitler's Europe in Film
[ ss wi ]
Takes a critical look as how Hitler's Europe has been represented and misrepresented since its time by documentary and entertainment films of different countries beginning with Germany itself. Movies, individual reports, discussions, and a littler reading. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Kelikian

HIST 139b Fascism East and West
[ ss ]
Traces the origins of authoritarianism in Europe, Asia, and Latin America during the twentieth century. It first looks at Germany and Italy. Additionally, it examines right-wing regimes in Japan, China, and Indonesia and their non-western political traditions. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Pieragastini

HIST 140a A History of Fashion in Europe
[ ss wi ]
Looks at costume, trade in garments, and clothing consumption in Europe from 1600 to 1950. Topics include sumptuous fashion, class and gender distinctions in wardrobe, and the rise of department stores. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Kelikian

HIST 170a Italian Films, Italian Histories
[ ss wi ]
Explores the relationship between Italian history and Italian film from unification to 1975. Topics include socialism, fascism, the deportation of Jews, the Resistance, the Mafia, and the emergence of an American-style star fixation in the 1960s. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Kelikian