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italian studies

Undergraduate Courses in Italian

Spring 2012

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 I
Staff
See Timetable for time(s)

Italian 110 is an introductory course. Classes are conducted in Italian and emphasize the development of listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. The course is organized around oral/aural communicative activities such as role-plays and interactive grammar exercises. Your listening skills will be greatly developed for you will be exposed to authentic language spoken at normal speed by native Italians. Some of these are short conversations, songs, poems, video and film clips. Your class work will be supplemented with homework using a workbook. 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 short paragraphs and building up to longer compositions.


Italian 112
Elementary Italian: Accelerated
Staff
See Timetable for time(s)

Italian 112 is an intensive elementary language course for students who have never studied Italian before but who have demonstrated a certain facility for learning languages and who have already fulfilled the language requirement.

The course is designed to help students develop functional ability in reading, writing, listening and speaking and gain familiarity with Italian culture. The primary emphasis of the course is on the development of the oral-aural skills, speaking and listening. Readings from authentic material on topics in Italian culture as well as frequent writing practice are also included.  

As in other Italian courses, class will be conducted entirely in Italian. Your listening skills will be well developed for you will be exposed to authentic language spoken at normal speed by native Italians. Among these are conversations, both brief and lengthy, songs, letters and poems. We will also view Italian film clips and an entire film. In class, you will be guided through a variety of communicative activities which lead from structured practice to free expression. You will be given frequent opportunity to practice your newly acquired vocabulary and grammatical structures in small groups and pairs, doing exercises which simulate real-life situations. 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. At the end of this course you should have the skills to function comfortably at a basic level in an Italian-speaking environment.


Italian 120
Elementary Italian II
Staff
See Timetable for time(s)

Italian 120 is the continuation of the elementary level sequence designed to develop functional proficiency in the four skills. The course is designed to help students develop functional ability in reading, writing, listening and speaking and gain familiarity with Italian culture. The primary emphasis of the course is on the development of the oral-aural skills, speaking and listening. Readings from authentic material on topics in Italian culture as well as frequent writing practice are also included.  

As in other Italian courses, class will be conducted entirely in Italian. Your listening skills will be well developed for you will be exposed to authentic language spoken at normal speed by native Italians. Among these are conversations, both brief and lengthy, songs, letters and poems. We will also view Italian film clips and an entire film. In class, you will be guided through a variety of communicative activities which lead from structured practice to free expression. You will be given frequent opportunity to practice your newly acquired vocabulary and grammatical structures in small groups and pairs, doing exercises which simulate real-life situations. 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. At the end of this course you should have the skills to function comfortably at a basic level in an Italian-speaking environment.

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
Staff
See Timetable for time(s)

Italian 134 is the intensive and accelerated course that combines in one semester the intermediate sequence (130 and 140). It 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 review these on your own. The course will allow you to explore culturally relevant topics and to develop cross-cultural skills through the exploration of similarities and differences between your native culture and the Italian world.

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 140
Intermediate Italian II
Staff
See Timetable for time(s)

Italian 140 is the second half of a two-semester intermediate sequence designed to help you attain a level of proficiency that will allow you to function comfortably in an Italian-speaking environment. The course 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 review these on your own. The course will allow you to explore culturally relevant topics and to develop cross-cultural skills through the exploration of analogies and differences between your native culture and the Italian world. The course will move beyond stereotypical presentations of Italy and its people to concentrate on specific social issues together with cultural topics.

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 202
Advanced Italian
Prof. Veneziano Broccia
See Timetable for time

This course focuses 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.

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

This course can be taken after completion of Italian 140 (or its equivalent) at the University of Pennsylvania or exemption from the language requirement in Italian and is a prerequisite for other 200- and 300-level Italian courses.


Italian 203
Italian Literature
Prof. Johnston
See Timetable for time

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 expand their vocabulary, improve their skills in critical interpretation and reinforce their written and oral competence 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. The prerequisite for this course is the fifth semester Italian – Ital 202, now being renamed 201, or an equivalent course taken abroad. Italian 203 is a requirement for all majors and minors in Italian Literature. It may be taken any time in the curriculum after the fifth semester Italian (Italian 202/201) or, by permission, concurrently with it.


Italian 204
Italian History on Screen
Prof. Benini
See Timetable for time

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. Discussions and readings will allow us to examine the problems and trends in the political, cultural and social history from ancient Rome to today. We will focus on: the Roman Empire, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Unification, Turn of the Century, Fascist era, World War II, post-war and contemporary Italy.

Students will independently view one film per week, available at Rosengarten Reserve. Film screenings will also be scheduled for those that prefer to watch the movies as a class. All students are expected to see all films and be prepared to participate in in-class discussion as well as to write journal entries. All readings are also required and students are expected to read carefully, prepare specific questions to share with the class and contribute thoughtfully to their own journal entries and time lines. Course taught in English; films with English subtitles, all readings available in English. No prerequisites.


Italian 250
Marriage and the Novel
Prof. DeJean
See Timetable for time

Historians have argued that early novels helped shape public opinion on many controversial issues. And no subject was more often featured in novels than marriage. In the course of the 18 th and the 19 th centuries, at a time when marriage as an institution was being radically redefined, almost all the best known novels explored happy as well as unhappy unions, individuals who decided not to marry as well as those whose lives were destroyed by the institution. They showcased marriage in other words in ways certain to provoke debate. We will both survey the development of the modern novel from the late 17 th to the early 20 th century and study the treatment of marriage in some of the greatest novels of all time.

We will begin with novels from the French and English traditions, the national literatures in which the genre first took shape, in particular Laclos’ Dangerous Liaisons, Austen’s Persuasion, Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. We will then turn to works from other European traditions such as Goethe’s Elective Affinities, Manzoni’s The Betrothed, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

We will begin the course by discussing the novel often referred to as the first modern novel, The Princess de Clèves, an ideal beginning for this course, since it was written by a woman writer, Lafayette – more than any other genre, the modern novel was the creation of women writers. The Princess de Clèves was also the first novel centered on an exploration of questions central to the debate about marriage for over two centuries – everything from the question of whether one should marry for love or for social position to the question of adultery.


Italian 288
Blood, Sweat and Pasta
Prof. Pellicone
See Timetable for time

Popular culture frequently serves a bounteous spread of representations of Italian-Americans to an audience hungering for more. In this course we will explore historic events, social conditions, aesthetic trends, and political motivations behind the proliferation of ruthless gangsters, lovable buffoons, irresistible lovers, and claustrophobic families comprising the pantheon of Italian-Americans images of our shared American consciousness. To understand the rise of these popular stereotypes, and, perhaps, to dismantle them we will read novels by authors such as Pascal D'Angelo (Son of Italy), John Fante (Ask The Dust); Mario Puzo (The Fortunate Pilgrim); Pietro di Donato (Christ in Concrete); Jerre Mangione (Mount Allegro); Helen Barolini (Umbertina), and Francine Prose (Household Saints). We will also read Albert Innaurato’s comedic play (Gemini) and selected poetry of John Ciardi. In addition to literary analysis, we will discuss representation of Italian-Americans in American cinema and television, and films such as The Godfather, Saturday Night Fever, Rocky, Moonstruck, My Cousin Vinny, Raging Bull, Big Night, and Radio Days, as well as episodes of television shows such as The Jersey Shore, Friends, The Golden Girls,The Sopranos, and Everybody Loves Raymond.


Italian 300-401
Exploring Ethnicity: The Italian American Experience
Prof. Juliani
See Timetable for time

This course examines (1) the experience of Italians as immigrants to the United States from their earliest presence, then through the era of mass immigration, and now at a time of more recent arrivals; (2) their acculturation and assimilation in subsequent generations as Americans; and (3) the principal social, cultural, economic and political aspects of Italian American life today. While focusing on one of the largest immigrant groups in American history it has its own significance. But rather than being an isolated and self-contained matter, it has implications for other groups as well — whether they arrived before the Italians, or came with them, or have come more recently and are still coming — and together comprise the American people.

The Italian case tested the capacity of America to absorb the foreign born and their descendants, by asking whether and how these newcomers and their culture were accepted. As a reflection on race and ethnic relations, it provides a measure of what awaits more recent newcomers in their own encounter with America.

Although dealing with frequently controversial and provocative issues, the approach is clinical and analytic, rather than ideological, polemical or celebratory. Its interdisciplinary aspect includes history, anthropology, sociology, and social psychology. It is based on scholarly research and interpretation that seeks to connect the descriptive and the conceptual; the humanistic and the scientific; the personal and the objective. By studying this group and the social processes that serve to define its position in our society, students, whether they belong to that group or any other, should understand more about themselves


Italian 333
Dante’s Divine Comedy
Prof. Brownlee
See Timetable for time

In this course we will read the Inferno, the Purgatorio 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 serves 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 doing the written assignments in Italian.


Italian 371
Architecture & Italian Civilization
Prof. Giannetto
See Timetable for time

What do late 19th- and early 20th-century robber barons have in common with Roman emperors and Renaissance popes? Why did Thomas Jefferson keep a plantation even though he was a terrible farmer? How has the concept of life in the countryside been articulated across the centuries? This seminar course will focus on the idea of villeggiatura (villa life) and the ideology associated with countryside gardens and plantations.

In the literature on villa gardens across the centuries, from ancient Rome to the 20 th century, there emerges a recurrent opposition between the country seen as an occasion for self-improvement versus it being an opportunity for self-indulgence, the representation of social status, and at times the display of opulence and political power. The first instance, which has its roots in the Stoic understanding of agricultural labor as a means of purification and moral gratification, is traceable to the times of the early agricultural writers, Cato and Varro, and re-emerges in the classical culture of early Renaissance Florence and the pre-Palladian villa culture of the Veneto to end with its latest occurrence at the time of Jefferson and the so-called gentlemen farmers in colonial America. The second instance, whose earliest example in the West dates to the time of Imperial Rome, resurfaces in Augustan England, and finds its apotheosis with the great mansions built by American industrialists at the turn of the 20 th century.

As the course examines the circularity of villa ideology across the centuries, other themes will emerge that address the relationship between urban and rural life, between building and natural environment and between social, cultural, economic and political forces and landscape design. These themes will be explored through the study of selected villas and through the reading of sources drawn from villa literature (among which architectural and agricultural treatises, epistolary exchanges, and drawings).


Italian 380
Visible Cities
Prof. Benini
See Timetable for time

From Magna Graecia’s poleis, to the Roman urbes, from the medieval “Comuni” (city states) to “ Seafaring Republics”, from the Early modern ideal cities to the modern metropolis, Italian cities carry a tradition of their own uniqueness and marked identity. As repositories of memory they have always fascinated the gaze of artists, writers, filmmakers and cultural historians. This course will explore Italian cities in their “textual” complexity, rooted in landscapes, bodies, language and imagination. Turin, Trieste, Milan, Genoa, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples and Palermo will be the destinations of this “grand tour” into the Italian cityscapes, as they appear fictionalized in 20th century Italian literature and cinema. After investigating the city as a trope through the lens of Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities,” we will venture into the different narratives of these cities as seen through the eyes of high modern and contemporary writers, movie directors, painters and cartoonists, photographers and songwriters. We will analyze their own peculiar geographies of identity, linguistic enclaves, maps of inequalities, fabrics of memories. Readings and discussion will be in Italian.

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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.

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This page last modified on: March 16, 2012
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