Italian and Italian Studies (Bryn Mawr)

Department Website:
https://www.brynmawr.edu/italian

Based on an interdisciplinary approach that views culture as a global phenomenon, the aims of the major in Italian Studies are to acquire a knowledge of Italian language, literature, and culture, including cinema, art, journalism, pop culture, and music. The Department of Italian Studies also cooperates with the Departments of French and Spanish in the Romance Languages major and with the other foreign languages in the TriCo for a major in Comparative Literature. The Italian Department cooperates also with International Studies, History of Art, and Growth and Structure of Cities.

Major Requirements

Italian Language/Literature (ILL) and Italian Cultural Studies (ICS) Major

The Italian Language/Literature major and the Italian Cultural Studies major consists of ten courses starting at the ITAL B101/ITAL B102 level, or an equivalent two-semester sequence taken elsewhere. The department offers a two-track system as guidelines for completing the major in Italian or in Italian Studies. Both tracks require ten courses, including ITAL B101/ITAL B102. For students in either Track A or B we recommend a senior experience offered with ITAL B398 and ITAL B399, courses that are required for honors. Students may complete either track. Recommendations are included below —models of different pathways through the major.

Majors are required to complete one Writing Intensive (WI) course in the major. The WI courses will prepare students towards their senior project and to competent and appropriate writing, manly in three ways:

  1. Teach the writing process—planning, drafting, revising, and editing;
  2. Emphasize the role of writing by allocating a substantial portion of the final grade to writing assignments;
  3. Offer students the opportunity to receive feedback from professors and peers (through class peer review sessions).

In responding to the feedback, students will experience writing as a process of discovery (re-visioning) and meaning. The goal of the new WI course will be to get students to re-think the argument, logical connection, focus, transition, evidence, quotes, organization, and sources.

ILL Major/ Track A

Major requirements in ILL are 10 courses. Track A may be appropriate for students with an interest in literary and language studies.

Required: ITAL B101/ITAL B102, plus six courses (or more) conducted in Italian and two selected from among a list of approved ICS courses in English that may be taken in either within the department or in various other disciplines offered at the College (i.e. History, History of Art, English, Visual Art and Film Studies, Philosophy, Comparative Literature, Cities, Archaeology, Classics). Adjustments will be made for students taking courses abroad. Of the courses taken in Italian, students are expected to enroll in the following areas: Dante (ITAL B301), Renaissance (ITAL B304 or ITAL B302), Survey (ITAL B307), and two courses on Modern Italian literature (ITAL B380, ITAL B310, ITAL B320, ITAL B306)

ICS/Track B

Major requirements in ICS are 10 courses. Track B may be appropriate for students with an interest in cultural and interdisciplinary studies. The concentration is open to all majors and consists of both interdisciplinary and single-discipline courses drawn from various academic departments at the college.

Required: ITAL B101/ITAL B102, plus three courses conducted in Italian and four related courses in English that may be taken either within the department or in allied-related fields in various disciplines throughout the college, or courses taken on BMC approved study-abroad programs, such as: History, History of Art, Visual Art, and Film Studies, Comparative Literature, Cities, Classics.

Faculty in other programs may be willing to arrange work within courses that may count for the major. Courses must be approved in advance by the Chair of the Italian Studies Department.

Major with Honors

Students may apply to complete the major with honors. The honors component requires the completion of a year-long thesis advised by a faculty member in the department. Students enroll in the senior year in ITAL B398 and ITAL B399. Application to it requires a GPA in the major of 3.7 or higher, as well as a written statement, to be submitted by the fall of senior year, outlining the proposed project (see further below) and indicating the faculty member who has agreed to serve as advisor. The full departmental faculty vets the proposals and at the end of the senior year will decide if honors will be given.

Thesis

Students will write a 30-35 page thesis that aims to engage with primary texts and relevant secondary literature. By the end of the fall semester, students must have completed a formal proposal and a Table of Content in draft. Proposals for the thesis should describe the questions being asked in the research, and how answers to them will contribute to scholarship. Students must include a discussion of the primary sources on which the research will rest, as well as a preliminary bibliography of relevant secondary studies. They also must include a rough timetable indicating in what stages the work will be completed. It is expected that before submitting their proposals students will have conferred with a faculty member who has agreed to serve as advisor. In December students will formally present the proposal to the department. In April students will give an oral presentation of their work of approximately one hour to faculty members and interested students. The final draft is due on or around April 28th of the senior year and will be graded by two faculty members (one of whom is the advisor). Faculty will retain the option to assign final honors to the research project.

University of Pennsylvania

Students majoring at BMC cannot earn more than two credits at the University of Pennsylvania in Italian.

Minor Requirements

Requirements for the minor in Italian Studies are ITAL B101, ITAL B102 and four additional units including two at the 200 level one of which in literature and one of which in Italian and two at the 300 level one of which in literature and one of which in Italian. With departmental approval, students who begin their work in Italian at the 200 level will be exempted from ITAL B101 and B102. For courses in translation, the same conditions for majors apply.

Elective Courses

ARTW/COML B240Literary Translation1.0
CITY B2071.0
CITY B360Topics: Urban Culture and Society (Digital Rome)1.0
COML B225Censorship: Historical Contexts, Local Practices and Global Resonance1.0
ENGL H220Epic1.0
ENGL H385Topics in Apocalyptic Writing1.0
HART B104-001Critical Approaches to Visual Representation: The Classical Tradition1.0
HART/RUSS B215Russian Avant-Garde Art, Literature and Film1.0
HART B253Survey of Western Architecture1.0
HART B323Topics in Renaissance and Baroque Art1.0
HIST B238From Bordellos to Cybersex History of Sexuality in Modern Europe1.0
HIST B319Topics in Modern European History1.0
MUSC H207Topics in Piano (Italian Keyboard Tradition)1.0

Study Abroad

Students who are studying abroad for the Italian major for one year can earn two credits in Italian Literature and one credit in allied fields (total of three credits). Those who are studying abroad for one semester can earn no more than a total of two credits in Italian Literature/Culture.

Faculty at Bryn Mawr

Alessandro Giammei
Assistant Professor of Italian

Pamela Pisone
Instructor

Roberta Ricci
Chair and Associate Professor of Italian

Gabriella Troncelliti
Instructional Assistant

Courses

ITAL B001  BEGINNING ITALIAN I  (1.0 Credit)

Gabriella Troncelliti

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

The course is for students with no previous knowledge of Italian. It aims at giving the students a complete foundation in the Italian language, with particular attention to oral and written communication. The course will be conducted in Italian and will involve the study of all the basic structures of the language—phonological, grammatical, syntactical—with practice in conversation, reading, composition. Readings are chosen from a wide range of texts, while use of the language is encouraged through role-play, debates, songs, and creative composition

(Offered: Fall 2020)

ITAL B002  BEGINNING ITALIAN II  (1.0 Credit)

Gabriella Troncelliti, Staff

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This course is the continuation of ITAL B001 and is intended for students who have started studying Italian the semester before. It aims at giving the students a complete foundation in the Italian language, with particular attention to oral and written communication. The course will be conducted in Italian and will involve the study of all the basic structures of the language—phonological, grammatical, syntactical—with practice in conversation, reading, composition. Readings are chosen from a wide range of texts, while use of the language is encouraged through role-play, debates, songs, and creative composition. Prerequisite: ITAL B001 or placement.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

ITAL B101  INTERMEDIATE ITALIAN THROUGH CULTURE I  (1.0 Credit)

Roberta Ricci

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This course provides students with a broader basis for learning to communicate effectively and accurately in Italian. While the principal aspect of the course is to further develop language abilities, the course also imparts a foundation for the understanding of modern and contemporary Italy. Students will gain an appreciation for Italian culture and be able to communicate orally and in writing in a wide variety of topics. We will read newspaper and magazine articles to analyze aspects on modern and contemporary Italy. We will also view and discuss Italian films and internet materials.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

ITAL B102  INTERMEDIATE ITALIAN THROUGH CULTURE II  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This course provides students with a broader basis for learning to communicate effectively and accurately in Italian. While the principal aspect of the course is to further develop language abilities, the course also imparts a foundation for the understanding of modern and contemporary Italy. Students will gain an appreciation for Italian culture and be able to communicate orally and in writing in a wide variety of topics. We will read a novel to analyze aspects on modern and contemporary Italy. We will also view and discuss Italian films and internet materials. Prerequisite: ITAL B101 or placement.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

ITAL B212  ITALY TODAY  (1.0 Credit)

Alessandro Giammei

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This is a topics course. Course content varies. This bridge class, taught in Italian, is designed to familiarize students with the shifting cultural panorama of present-day Italy (and its metamorphosing language) through a variety of readings by living authors, journalists, comic-book artists, intellectuals, and politicians.

ITAL B213  THEORY IN PRACTICE:CRITICAL DISCOURSES IN THE HUMANITIES  (1.0 Credit)

Alessandro Giammei

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

What is a postcolonial subject, a queer gaze, a feminist manifesto? And how can we use (as readers of texts, art, and films) contemporary studies on animals and cyborgs, object oriented ontology, zombies, storyworlds, neuroaesthetics? In this course we will read some pivotal theoretical texts from different fields, with a focus on race&ethnicity and gender&sexuality. Each theory will be paired with a masterpiece from Italian culture (from Renaissance treatises and paintings to stories written under fascism and postwar movies). We will discuss how to apply theory to the practice of interpretation and of academic writing, and how theoretical ideas shaped what we are reading. Class conducted in English, with an additional hour in Italian for students seeking Italian credit.

ITAL B217  GENDERED VIOLENCE IN ITALY: HOW MANY WOMEN ARE KILLED?  (1.0 Credit)

Roberta Ricci

How many women are killed in Italy? How many women suffer abuse at the hands of their partner? Data shows one in seven in Italy have suffered gendered abuse. In many regions, victims have nowhere to turn for shelter. This course will examine domestic and sexual assault in intimate relationships from a feminist analysis. Historical, theoretical, and sociological perspectives on gender violence will be critically analyzed through criminology research, literature, and theory. Course context will focus on dominance and control as a co-factor of gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic class, age, sexuality, nationality, and other variables. Therefore, the course will highlight the differential impact of gender violence on women of color, lesbians, older women, adolescent girls, immigrants and marginalized and disenfranchised women. Domestic and sexual violence in contemporary Italy will also be reviewed and analyzed in the context of international contexts. This course will be taught in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 102 or permission from instructor

(Offered: Fall 2020)

ITAL B229  THE POLITICS OF FOOD IN ITALIAN LITERATURE, CULTURE, AND CINEMA  (1.0 Credit)

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

In English. A profile of Italian literature/culture/cinema obtained through an analysis of gastronomic documents, films, literary texts, and magazines. We will also include a discussion of the Slow Food Revolution, a movement initiated in Italy in 1980 and now with a world-wide following, and its social, economic, ecological, aesthetic, and cultural impact to counteract fast food and to promote local food traditions. Course taught in English. One additional hour for students who want Italian credit.

ITAL B301  DANTE  (1.0 Credit)

Roberta Ricci

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

A reading of the Vita Nuova (Poems of Youth) and The Divine Comedy: Hell, Purgatory and Paradise in order to discover the subtle nuances of meaning in the text and to introduce students to Dante’s tripartite vision of the afterlife. Dante’s masterpiece lends itself to study from various perspectives: theological, philosophical, political, allegorical, historical, cultural, and literary. Personal journey, civic responsibilities, love, genre, governmental accountability, church-state relations, the tenuous balance between freedom of expression and censorship—these are some of the themes that will frame the discussions. One additional hour for students who want Italian credit. Prerequisite: At least two 200-level literature courses.

ITAL B303  BOCCACCIO, THE PLAGUE, AND EPIDEMIC ILLNESS: LITERATURE AND MEDICINE  (1.0 Credit)

Roberta Ricci

Division: Humanities

What are the responses to human suffering during outbreaks of epidemic illness? How can literature be a valuable tool for plague prevention in time of pestilence? This class explores crucial questions on how narrative works in medical contexts, with a focus on the Decameron and the black plague of 1348. Giovanni Boccaccio is the first writer to unite the literary topos of narration during a life-threatening situation with an historical epidemic context in Medieval Italy. How does he tell his stories in time of illness and death? How do writers and other storytellers respond to dominant versions of health and medicine? Taught in Italian.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

ITAL B308  ROME AS PALIMPSESTS: FROM RUINS TO VIRTUAL REALITY  (1.0 Credit)

Alessandro Giammei

From the urban dream that Raphael confessed to pope Leo X in the middle of the Renaissance to the parkour on the top of the Colosseum in the Assassin’s Creed videogames, Rome has always been both a memory and a vision: a place of nostalgia and endless potential. In this course we will investigate some crucial places, moments, and ideas in the modern history of this ancient capital of Western culture: XVI century Mannerist painting and the Pop Art of Piazza del Popolo, the early modern re-uses of the Colosseum and its cubic clone designed under fascism, the narrations of Romantic grand-tours and the ones of contemporary postcolonial authors. We will adopt a trans-historical and inter-disciplinary perspective, focusing on the main attempts to revive the glory of the ancient empire. We will try to understand weather Italy’s capital is a museum to be preserved, an old laboratory of urban innovations, a cemetery, a sanctuary, or simply an amalgam of past and future, glory and misery, beauty and horror. For Italian majors you will have an additional hour for credit. Prerequisite: One two-hundred level course for students interested in taking the course towards Italian credits.

ITAL B309  RENAISSANCE IMAGOLOGY—TALES, VISIONS & MAPS OF THE SILK ROAD  (1.0 Credit)

Alessandro Giammei

Unlike those of most European nations, Italy’s Renaissance was not an age of geographical expansion—as a matter of fact, Italy didn’t even exist, as a nation, up until a century and a half ago. And yet, it was in Italian ports and courts that the geographical experiences and fantasies of cartographers, merchants, poets, painters, and narrators gave to Europe the cultural tools to imagine the world beyond the boundaries of its smallest continent. This collective, introvert work of invention and description fueled the defining atrocities of what we call modernity, from colonialism to the slave trade. It also produced fantastical (and yet incredibly detailed) accounts of supposedly transitional places, challenging what we today consider geographical knowledge and establishing a paradigm to experience the world without leaving one’s room. In this course, we will try to understand the difference between reading about a place and experiencing it. We will study ports and courts as planetariums, poems as atlases, and maps as works of fiction. A large portion of the course will be devoted to Marco Polo’s description of the silk road, to Italo Calvino’s postmodern re-writing of Polo’s real and fictional journeys, and to Venice as both the starting point and destination of such virtual experiences of the silk road. We will also consult Petrarch’s travel guides to places that he only visited as a reader, read the Asian adventures of Ludovico Ariosto’s paladins flying on the Hippogriff, and analyze masterpieces of early modern cartography such as the Cantino planisphere and the Fra Mauro globe, which we will see in Italy. Renaissance texts and images will be studied alongside 20th century works that they inspired: metaphysical paintings, avant-garde poems made out of place names, operas, and experimental novels. The last places we will visit are the ports that are considered, today, as parts of the so called “new silk road”: Genova and Trieste. For students enrolling in the 360 cluster: No knowledge of Italian is required. For students enrolling only in this class, for Departmental credit: Completion of ITAL102 or instructor's permission.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

ITAL B312  BLACK, QUEER, JEWISH ITALY  (1.0 Credit)

Alessandro Giammei

This seminar approaches the two most studied phases of Italian history, the Renaissance and the 20th century, by placing what we call ‘otherness’ at the center of the picture rather than at its supposed margins. The main aim is to challenge traditional accounts of Italian culture, and to look at pivotal events and phenomena (the rise of Humanism, the rise of fascism, courtly culture, the two World Wars, 16th century art, futurism) from the point of view of black, queer, and Jewish protagonists, authors, and fictional characters. Our theoretical bedrock will be offered by modern and contemporary thinkers such as Fred Moten, Antonio Gramsci, Edie Segdwick, and Hannah Arendt. Our primary sources will come from cultural epicenters of Renaissance, Baroque, and late Modern Italy, such as Leo X papal court, fascist Ferrara, 17th century Venice, and colonial Libya. In class, we will adopt a trans-historical, intersectional, and interdisciplinary perspective inspired by Fred Moten’s work, which will serve as the poetic common ground for our investigations. Themes and issues will be analyzed at the crossing of the two historical phases and of the three topics in exam, and the material will include historical and theoretical analyses, narrative texts, poems, films, and visual art. The course is taught in English. No previous knowledge of Italian is required, as readings will be in English translation. An additional hour in Italian will be offered for departmental credits. Students taking the course for departmental credit will also read part of the readings in the original language, and produce three short response-papers in Italian in lieu of the Midterm.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

ITAL B315  A GENDERED HISTORY OF THE AVANT-GARDE  (1.0 Credit)

Alessandro Giammei

The very concept of ‘avant-garde’ is steeped in a masculine warlike imagery, and the founding manifesto of Futurism even glorifies ‘contempt for the woman’. Yet, feminine, queer, androgynous, and non-binary perspectives on sexual identity played a central role — from Rimbaud to current experimentalism — in the development of what has been called ‘the tradition of the new’. In this seminar we will explore such a paradoxical anti-traditional tradition through texts, images, sounds, and videos, adopting a historical prospective from early 20th century movements to the Neo-Avant-Garde. We will unearth the stories and works of great experimentalists who have been neglected because of their gender. We will deal with poems made up entirely of place names, of recorded noises, of typographical symbols. Taking advantage of the college’s collection and library, we will try to read texts with no words, surreal stories, performances, objects, and we will make our own avant-garde experiments. Course taught in English, no previous knowledge of Italian required.

ITAL B380  MODERNITY AND PSYCHOANALYSIS: CROSSING NATIONAL BOUNDARIES IN 20TH C. ITALY AND EUROPE  (1.0 Credit)

Roberta Ricci

Division: Humanities

Designed as an in-depth interdisciplinary exploration of Italy’s 20th century cultural life, the course is organized around major artistic and intellectual trends, viewed in their historical and global perspective in connection with Avant-garde literary movements and philosophical ideas: i.e. surrealism, metaphysics, Dadaism, psychoanalysis, futurism, decadence, modernism. While thinking and writing in Italian, we will examine films, novels, and poetry to gain insight on Modernity with attention also to gender perspectives. Elements of metrics and rhetoric will be used to analyze poetry in its own essence. Prerequisite: One 200-Level course in Italian.

ITAL B398  SENIOR SEMINAR  (1.0 Credit)

Roberta Ricci

Division: Humanities

This course is open only to seniors in Italian and in Romance Languages. Under the direction of the instructor, each student prepares a senior thesis on an author or a theme that the student has chosen. By the end of the fall semester, students must have completed an abstract and a critical annotated bibliography to be presented to the department. See Thesis description. Prerequisite: This course is open only to seniors in Italian Studies and Romance Languages with a GPA of 3.7.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

ITAL B399  SENIOR CONFERENCE  (1.0 Credit)

Division: Humanities

Under the direction of the instructor, each student prepares a senior thesis on an author or a theme that the student has chosen. In April there will be an oral defense with members and majors of the Italian Department. See Thesis description. Prerequisite: This course is open only to seniors in Italian Studies and Romance Languages.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

ITAL B403  SUPERVISED WORK  (1.0 Credit)

Alessandro Giammei, Roberta Ricci

Division: Humanities

Offered with approval of the Department.

(Offered: Fall 2020, Spring 2021)