Administrative Information

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Jo Ann Cavallo, 514 Hamilton; 854-4982;

Departmental Office: 502 Hamilton; 854-2308

Teodolinda Barolini (chair)
Jo Ann Cavallo
Elizabeth Leake

Associate Professor
Nelson Moe (Barnard)

Assistant Professor
Pier Mattia Tommasino

Senior Lecturers
Maria Luisa Gozzi
Barbara Spinelli
Carol Rounds (Hungarian)

Felice Italo Beneduce
Patrizia Palumbo
Federica Franze
Alessandra Saggin

A major in Italian offers students the opportunity to study Italian literature and culture in an intimate, seminar setting with the close supervision of the department’s faculty. The department offers the major or concentration on two tracks: Italian literature and Italian cultural studies. Both programs include a prerequisite and a corequisite sequence of language courses designed to give students a command of written and spoken Italian.

The major in Italian literature exposes students to some of the key authors and works in Italian literature from the Middle Ages to the present. The basic required sequence (ITAL V3333-V3334) provides an overview of major authors and works in the Italian literary tradition. Students select an additional five courses from the department’s offerings in Italian literature. The four related courses, to be chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies, help students to connect their study of Italian literature to other fields of European literature and culture.

The major in Italian cultural studies provides students with the opportunity to explore diverse aspects of Italian culture from the Middle Ages to the present. The basic required sequence (ITAL W4502-W4503) is an interdisciplinary investigation into Italian culture since national unification in 1860. In consultation with the director of undergraduate studies, students select an additional five courses from the department’s 3000- or 4000-level offerings or from other humanities and social science departments with a focus on Italian culture. The four related courses, also chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies, help students to connect their study of Italian culture to other fields of European culture and history.

Highly motivated students have the opportunity to pursue a senior thesis or tutorial project under the guidance of a faculty adviser in an area of Italian literature or culture of their choosing. The thesis tutorial (ITAL V3993) counts for three points and can be substituted for one of the five aforementioned courses.

Departmental courses taught entirely in English do not have linguistic prerequisites and students from other departments who have interests related to Italian culture are especially welcome.

Italian language instruction employs a communicative approach that integrates speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Courses make use of materials that help students to learn languages not just as abstract systems of grammar and vocabulary, but as living cultures with specific content. Across the levels from elementary to advanced, a wide range of literary, cultural, and multimedia material, including books, film, and opera, supplement the primary course text. The sequence in elementary and intermediate Italian enables students to fulfill the College’s foreign language requirement and thoroughly prepares them for advanced study of language (ITAL V3335-V3336) and for literature courses taught in Italian. Specialized language courses allow students to develop their conversational skills. For highly motivated students, the department offers intensive elementary and intensive intermediate Italian, both of which cover a full year of instruction in one semester. Courses in advanced Italian, although part of the requirements for a major in Italian literature or cultural studies, are open to any qualified students whose main goal is to improve and perfect their competence in the language. It is recommended that advanced undergraduate students take one of the following composition courses: ITAL W4000 Stylistics; ITAL W4012 Laboratorio di scrittura; or ITAL W4018 Laboratorio di traduzione, if they are considering graduate studies in Italian or a career that requires superior command of spoken and written Italian.

Advanced Placement

The department grants 3 credits for a score of 5 on the AP Italian Language exam, which satisfies the foreign language requirement. Credit is awarded upon successful completion of a 3000-level (or higher) course with a grade of B or higher. This course must be for at least 3 points of credit and be taught in Italian. Courses taught in English may not be used for language AP credit. The department grants 0 credits for a score of 4 on the AP Italian Language exam, but the foreign language requirement is satisfied.

Casa Italiana

A wide range of cultural programs is sponsored by the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, located in Casa Italiana. These programs, which include the Italian Poetry Review, the Columbia Seminar on Modern Italian Studies, and the Italian Academy Film Festival, enrich the learning experience of the student and offer opportunities to meet distinguished Italian and Italian-American visitors to the University. The Paterno book collection is housed in Butler Library and contains valuable resources on Italian literature and culture.

Language Resource Center

The Language Resource Center (LRC) provides resources for intensive practice in pronunciation, diction, and aural comprehension of some twenty-five modern languages. LRC exercises are closely coordinated with the classroom work.

Coordinated tape programs and on-line audio are available and mandatory for students registered in elementary and intermediate Italian language courses. Taped exercises in pronunciation and intonation as well as tapes of selected literary works are also available to all students in Italian courses.

Electronic Classrooms

Language instruction courses meet at least once a week in a multimedia-equipped electronic classroom in order to facilitate exposure to Italian arts such as music, opera, and film, and for other pedagogical uses.

Departmental Honors

Majors in Italian literature or Italian cultural studies who wish to be considered for departmental honors in Italian must (1) have at least a 3.6 GPA in their courses for the major and (2) complete a senior thesis or tutorial and receive a grade of at least A- within the context of the course ITAL V3993. Normally, departmental honors are awarded to no more than one graduating senior.