spacer spacer marble stairs


course offerings

requirements for majors and minors

master list of courses outside the Department

the language requirement in italian

study abroad



department of romance languages penn logo
italian studies

Undergraduate Courses in Italian

Spring 2010

For the full list of Italian Studies electives in Romance Languages and other departments, please see the master course list.


(Course information subject to change)
(Cross-reference with Course Timetables)

Italian 110
Elementary Italian
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

A first semester elementary language course for students who have never studied Italian before or who have taken a placement test and received a score below 380. All students who have previously studied Italian are required to take the placement test. Classes are conducted in Italian and emphasize the development of listening comprehension and speaking, with training in reading and writing. The course is organized around oral/aural communicative activities such as role-plays and interactive grammar exercises. In Italian 110 your listening skills will be greatly developed for you will be exposed daily to authentic language spoken at normal speed by native Italians. Some of these are short conversations, songs, and poems. As the semester progresses the conversations will be longer. Your classwork will be supplemented with homework using a cassette with a workbook, to further enhance your listening skills. In class you will get ample opportunity to speak, as much of the class period will be spent working in pairs or small groups. You will also be exposed to simple Italian texts so that your reading skills will be developed. These texts will gradually become more complex as you acquire the vocabulary necessary to read at a higher level. You will also be challenged to work on your writing skills, starting with sentences and building up to paragraph-length essays.

Italian 112
Elementary Italian-Accelerated
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

Italian 112 is an intensive elementary language course for students who have never studied Italian before and who have already fulfilled the language requirement in another modern language. Students who have fulfilled the language requirement in a language other than a romance language, will be considered on an individual basis.

As in other Italian courses, class will be conducted entirely in Italian. Your listening skills will be well for you will be exposed to daily authentic language spoken at normal speed by native Italians. Among these are conversations, both brief and lengthy, songs, letters, and poems. You will be guided through a variety of communicative activities in class which lead you from structured practice to free expression. You will be given frequent opportunity to practice your newly acquired vocabulary and grammatical structures in a small group and pair work which simulates real-life situations. Your class work will be supplemented with homework using a cassette with a workbook, to further enhance your listening skills. You will also be exposed to authentic Italian texts so that your reading skills will be developed. These texts include articles from newspapers and magazines as well as literary pieces. They will become more complex as you acquire the vocabulary necessary to read at a higher level. You will also be challenged to work on your writing skills, for you will be given ample opportunity to write about diverse topics.

Italian 120
Elementary Italian II
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

Italian 120 is the continuation of an elementary level sequence designed to develop functional proficiency in the four skills. The primary emphasis is on the development of the oral-aural skills, speaking and listening. Readings on topics in Italian culture as well as frequent writing practice are also included in the course.

Prerequisite(s): Italian 110 or a score equivalent for placement in level 120 on the Italian placement exam (see Romance Languages Department).

Italian 134
Intermediate Italian: Accelerated
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

Italian 134 is an intensive intermediate course, covering the equivalent of Italian 130 and 140 in one semester. It is primarily designed for students who have completed Italian 112, but students with an exceptionally strong performance in Italian 120 are allowed to enroll with a departmental permit. See course descriptions of Italian 130 and 140.

Italian 140
Intermediate Italian II
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

Prerequisite(s): Italian 130 or a score equivalent for placement in level 140 on the Italian placement exam (see Romance Languages Department).

 Italian 140 is the second half of a two-semester intermediate sequence, which will build on your existing skills in Italian, increase your confidence and your ability to read, write, speak and understand the language, and introduce you to more refined lexical items, more complex grammatical structures, and more challenging cultural material. You are expected to have already learned the most basic grammatical structures in elementary Italian and to be able to review these on your own. The course textbook, together with all supplementary materials, will allow you to explore culturally relevant topics and develop cross-cultural skills through the exploration of analogies and differences between your native culture and the Italian world, thus building a bridge of cultural and linguistic awareness and strengthening your language skills. As in other Italian courses at Penn, class will be conducted entirely in Italian. Your attendance and participation is of the utmost importance, because you will work collaboratively with your classmates and your instructor towards increased linguistic competence and a more complex understanding of Italian culture. You will be expected to complete homework exercises in preparation for class. Written and oral assignments will provide structured practice of linguistic forms, while also challenging your creative skills.

Italian 180
Italian Conversation in Residence

Must be resident of the Modern Language House

Italian 202-301
Advanced Italian
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

The goal of Italian 202 is to prepare students for study in upper level courses in Italian literature and cinema. It is also suggested for those students who do not intend to pursue a Major or Minor in Italian but would like to further improve their knowledge of the Italian language and culture. The course will focus on a recent movie by Italian director Tullio Giordana, La meglio gioventú (2002), which will be used as a point of departure to explore contemporary Italian culture following its development since the 1960s.  Another recent movie, Mio fratello è figlio unico (2007), will be viewed and analyzed at the conclusion of the course as compared to La meglio gioventú.  Pertinent literary texts, newspaper articles, as well as material in other media will complement the analysis of the film and allow an in depth discussion of the most important topics.  The cultural material of the course will be also used as a basis for a systematic review of advanced grammar.

Class work will center primarily on conversation to improve students’ fluency, vocabulary and accuracy in speaking.  Homework will consist mainly, but not exclusively, of compositions to improve students’ ability to express themselves correctly and elegantly in written Italian.

This course is a prerequisite for other 200-level courses.

Italian 203-401
Italian Literature
Prof. Benini
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

Ital 203 is an introductory course aimed to offer students the opportunity to discover Italian Literature and Civilization through readings and reflections upon significant texts of the Italian literary and artistic tradition. From the underworld of Dante to the love poetry of Petrarch, from the political vision of Macchiavelli to the scientific revolution of Galileo, from the modernist fragmentation of Pirandello to the postmodern creations of Calvino, up to the latest trends in Italian cinema, the course explores a wide range of literary genres, themes and cultural debates by analyzing texts within their socio-political context.

The course will help students to expand their vocabulary, to improve their skills in critical interpretation and to reinforce their written and oral competences in Italian through a variety of activities such as class discussions, presentations, short papers and research projects.

All readings and class discussion will be in Italian. The prerequisite for this course is Italian 202 or an equivalent course taken abroad. This course is a requirement for all majors and minors in Italian Literature. It may be taken any time in the curriculum after 202, and by permission, concurrently with 202.

Italian 204-401
History on Screen: How Movies Tell the Story of Italy
Prof. Veneziano Broccia
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

How has our image of Italy arrived to us? Where does the story begin and who has recounted, rewritten, and rearranged it over the centuries? In this course, we will study Italy’s rich and complex past and present. We will carefully read literary and historical texts and thoughtfully watch films in order to attain an understanding of Italy that is as varied and multifaceted as the country itself. Lectures, discussions and readings will allow us to examine the problems and trends in the political, cultural and social history from ancient Rome to today.

Students will watch films independently. Readings and discussions will be in English. Students with a knowledge of Italian are encouraged to read available texts in Italian.

Italian 205-301
Italia Viva Voce
Prof. Serra
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

In this advanced conversation course, taught exclusively in Italian, students will perfect their communication skills and learn to use the most appropriate register in a variety of formal and informal situations while exploring significant aspects of contemporary Italian culture. Listening and speaking activities - role plays, discussions, oral presentations, internet forums, etc. - will be based on audio-visual material (songs, pictures, audio and video clips) and written texts (newspaper articles, literary texts) provided by the instructor and/or proposed by the students themselves based on their explorations of the Italian web. Linguistic structures will be revised as needed. Some writing will also be required in preparation for class discussions, oral presentations, and as part of the final project.

Prerequisite(s): Either completion of Italian 202 or enrollment in Italian 202 concurrently with enrollment in Italian 205. Heritage speakers and students who have completed five semesters of Italian at another institution will be considered on an individual basis.

Italian 300-301
and the World: A Long History of Migrations
Prof. Johnston
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

This course explores the history of migrations within, from, and to Italy, across the ages. After a brief excursus from the Middle Ages to the early 1800s, we will focus on the more recent migratory movements from the Great Migration of the late 1800-early 1900s to the present. We will analyze Italian views of the world and the world’s views of Italy through literary, artistic, social and historical documents in print, film, and on the internet, ranging from Dante to the immigrant authors now publishing in Italian, in Italy.

Italian 300-401
Food and Culture of Italy
Prof. Finotti
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

Food is culture. Food is language. The course will explore the anthropology of food and the cultural aspects of gastronomy in Italian History. We will focus on the communication through food not only in social life but also in different textual genres: narrative, poetry, cinema, visual arts, advertising. The class will be taught in English. The reading material and the bibliographical references will be provided in a course reader. Further material will be presented in class. Requirements include class attendance, preparation and participation, a series of oral responses, and a final oral presentation.

Ital 310 -401
The Medieval Reader
Prof. Kirkham
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

Through a range of authors including Augustine, Dante, Petrarch, Galileo, and Umberto Eco, this course will explore the world of the book in the manuscript era. We shall consider 1) readers in fiction-male and female, good and bad; 2) books as material objects produced in monasteries and their subsequent role in the rise of the universities; 3) medieval women readers and writers; 4) medieval ideas of the book as a symbol (e.g., the notion of the world as God's book; 5) changes in book culture brought about by printing and electronic media. Lectures and readings with discussion in English, to be supplemented by visual presentations and a visit to the Rare Book Room in Van Pelt Library. No prerequisites. Fulfills BFS Sector III requirement. For more information, please see: Cross-listed with COML 310 and GSOC 310 (Women’s Studies).

Ital 333-401
Dante’s Divine Comedy
Prof. Brownlee
(See Course Timetables for time(s))

In this course we will read the Inferno, the Pergatorio, and the Paradiso, focusing on a series of interrelated problems raised by the poem: authority, fiction, history, politics, and language. Particular attention will be given to how the Commedia presents itself as Dante’s autobiography and to how the autobiographical narrative searves as a unifying thread for this supremely rich literary text. Supplementary readings will include Virgil’s Aeneid and selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. All readings and written work will be in English. Italian or Italian Studies credit will require reading Italian texts in their original language and writing about their themes in Italian.

Please note that some graduate courses are open also to advanced undergraduates.  Check the graduate courses web page and speak directly to faculty members regarding availability.


This page last modified on: March 23, 2010
Questions & Comments