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Italian Studies

The main goal of the Department of German Studies and Italian Studies at Smith College is to offer a program of study that provides opportunities for students to acquire both proficiency in Italian and a good appreciation of Italy’s rich cultural tradition. All members of the Italian department are seriously committed to the idea that learning a foreign language is an inherent part of an undergraduate education. We are convinced that if we teach our students a language within a cultural context, we are broadening their minds and opening them up to the possibility of a variety of interpretations of life. We feel that this will assure them access to Italy's rich cultural offerings in literature, in art, and in music, to name just a few.

Department Update

Italian Placement Exam

This test is open to all students who have had preparatory training in Italian. Students who took the Italian AP exam need to take the placement as well, no matter what their AP score. If you have missed the most recent deadline, contact our language coordinator Maria Succi-Hempstead, msuccihe@smith.edu.

Prize Winners in Italian Studies

Congratulations to the 2022–23 prize winners in Italian studies: The Michele Cantarella Memorial “Dante Prize” for the best essays in Italian on any aspect of The Divine Comedy or Boccaccio’s Decameron went to Sophie Jones, Anna Tirney-Fife and Charlotte Garner. The Anacleta Vezzetti Prize for the best pieces of writing in Italian on any aspect of the culture of Italy went to Anna Tierney-Fife and Marietta Mallon.

Requirements & Courses

Goals for Majors in German and Italian

Students majoring in the Department of German and Italian acquire the linguistic ability, cultural competency, research skills, and contextual knowledge to open up transnational perspectives and pursue their own personal lines of inquiry.

The specific learning goals of the major fall into three interrelated categories:

  1. Language, Semantics and Rhetoric.



    Our majors achieve proficiency in German or Italian (at the B2 level or higher).

    Are able to function independently in German- or Italian-speaking social and academic environments. Can identify how language is used and shaped for a variety of purposes and develop a critical relationship with media, including literature, film, the arts, scholarly writing, Internet resources and the press.
  2. Transcultural Competence



    Our majors develop and further “transcultural competence," that is, the ability to reflect critically on the world and oneself through the lens of another language and culture. To enable students to establish relevant, critical connections between German or Italian culture, their own culture and other academic fields, within the framework of contemporary intercultural society. To make them reflect on the processes and the challenges faced by any act of translation between languages. To make use of scholarly sources to inform and strengthen their own perspective.
  3. Global Citizenship



    Through study abroad and internships in Germany or in Italy, our majors learn how to become global citizens and help build cosmopolitan communities. They learn to value and creatively include diversity in spite of the challenges it represents to community building. They are equipped with the competence required to live in our increasingly more transnational 21st-century world, and to recognize their own transnational positionality.

German Studies Major

Requirements

Ten courses (40 credits) beyond GER 110Y

  1. Five required courses
    1. GER 189
    2. GER 250 or GER 260
    3. One topic of GER 300
    4. GER 350
    5. One topic of GER 360 or GER 369/ ITL 369
  2. Five electives, of which at least two must be in German. GER 300 may be repeated with a different topic.

Courses taken during the study abroad program in Hamburg will be numbered differently and considered equivalent to (and upon occasion may substitute) required courses offered on the Smith campus, subject to the approval of the department.

Courses without the GER prefix may be counted toward the major, with prior departmental approval. Relevant departments/programs include, but are not limited to: art history, film studies, education, history, international relations, linguistics, religion, government, American studies, music, philosophy and world literatures.

Courses taught by German faculty members outside the department can also contribute to the major (for instance, courses in WLT or FYS) with departmental approval. 

Students who enter with previous preparation in German will be assigned to appropriate courses on the basis of a placement examination.

Italian Studies Major

Requirements

Ten courses (40 credits) beyond ITL 111/ITL 135

  1. ITL 220
  2. ITL 250
  3. ITL 251 (in Florence). Students who do not go to Florence can replace the course with another course approved by their major advisor.
  4. ITL 332 or ITL 334/ITL 335
  5. One senior seminar normally taken during the senior year
  6. Five electives
    • 200- or 300-level ITL courses
    • ITL 235 if taken twice (4 credits) or combined with ITL 275
    • Courses taken during study abroad with a syllabus submitted to the chair of the Department of German and Italian for approval.
    • Up to two courses in English or Italian from other Smith departments, programs or in the Five Colleges, whose main focus is on Italian culture, chosen in accordance with the interest of the student and with the approval of the major adviser. Relevant departments and programs include, but are not limited to: art history, film studies, classics, education, history, international relations, linguistics, religion, government, American studies, music, philosophy and world literatures.
    • Courses taught by members of the Italian faculty outside the department (e.g., courses in WLT, FMS or FYS), with prior approval of the department.

Students considering graduate school in Italian studies are strongly encouraged to take ITL 299/ POR 299/ SPN 299/ FRN 299
and WLT 300
.

Students arriving at Smith with previous knowledge of the language can be placed out of one or all of these courses but must still take ten courses to complete the major.

Honors

Please consult the director of honors or the departmental website for specific requirements and application procedures.

German Minor

Requirements

Six courses (24 credits) beyond GER 110Y

  1. Three required courses
    1. GER 161 or GER 189/ ITL 189
    2. GER 250 or GER 260
    3. GER 350 or a topic of GER 360 or a topic of GER 369/ITL 369
  2. Three electives
    • No more than two may be in English.
    • Courses taken during the Study Abroad Program in Hamburg will be numbered differently and considered equivalent to (and upon occasion may be substituted for) required courses offered on the Smith campus, subject to the approval of the department.
    • Courses taken outside the Department of German and Italian may be counted toward the minor with prior departmental approval.

Italian Studies Minor

A minor in Italian studies offers the student the opportunity to acquire the basic skills and reasonable knowledge of the Italian language as well as an overview of Italian culture. Furthermore, it offers students returning from study abroad the possibility to continue with Italian. 

Requirements

Six courses (24 credits) beyond ITL 111/ITL 135

  1. ITL 220
  2. ITL 245
  3. ITL 250 or ITL 251 (in Florence). Students who don’t go to Florence can replace the course with another course approved by their minor advisor.
  4. One 300-level ITL course taught at Smith College
  5. Two courses can be chosen from the following list:
    • Any FYS course taught by an Italian studies faculty member
    • 200- or 300-level ITL courses
    • ITL 235 taken twice (4 credits) or combined with ITL 275
    • Courses taken during study abroad with a syllabus submitted to adviser of Italian studies for approval.

Students arriving at Smith with previous knowledge of the language can be placed out of one or all of these courses but must still take six courses to complete the minor.

Course Information

GER 110Y and ITL 110Y are yearlong courses. Credit is not granted for the first semester until the second semester is completed.

Satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades are not allowed in Italian language courses with the exception of ITL 111, which can be taken S/U by seniors only.

German Courses

GER 110Y Elementary German (5 Credits)

An introduction to spoken and written German, and to the culture and history of German-speaking peoples and countries. Emphasis on grammar and practical vocabulary for use in conversational practice, written exercises, and listening and reading comprehension. By the end of the year, students are able to read short, edited literary and journalistic texts as a basis for classroom discussion and to compose short written assignments. Yearlong courses cannot be divided at midyear with credit for the first semester.

Fall, Spring

GER 120 Intensive Elementary German (8 Credits)

A fast-paced introduction to German that allows rapid acquisition of speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills as well as cultural knowledge about German-speaking countries. Daily oral and written practice through multi-media, role-playing, dialogues, poems, and short stories. This course is particularly appropriate for students who want to acquire a solid foundation in the language quickly. Students complete the equivalent of two semesters’ work in one semester and are prepared to enter GER 200. The course is a cooperation with Mount Holyoke College. Students will attend a class at MHC once a week. {F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

GER 189/ ITL 189 Thinking Transnationally: European Culture Across Borders (2 Credits)

This series of interdepartmental lectures by a selection of Smith faculty examines the myth of cultural homogeneity perpetuated by the ideal of “native” linguistic competency. These lectures explore hybridity and interaction between cultures and languages as the rule, not the exception. The goal is to help students comprehend the transnational, multilingual web into which they are woven, and to appreciate how they contribute to that web, to appreciate their own position as transnational subjects. By adopting a transnational perspective, students learn to question the primacy of the “native,” whether as non-native speakers in the US or as language-learners looking abroad. Graded S/U only. {H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Annually

GER 200 Intermediate German: The German Environment (4 Credits)

An exploration of contemporary German culture through literary and journalistic texts, with regular practice in written and oral expression. A review of basic grammatical concepts and the study of new ones, with emphasis on vocabulary building. Prerequisite: GER 110Y or equivalent, or by placement. Enrollment limited to 20. {F}

Fall

GER 231wc Topics in German Cinema-Weimar Cinema (4 Credits)

During the brief period between the fall of the Kaiser and the rise of the Nazis, Germany was a hotbed of artistic and intellectual innovation, giving rise to an internationally celebrated film industry.  With an eye to industrial, political, and cultural forces, this course explores the aesthetic experience of modernity and modernization through formal, narrative, and stylistic analyses of feature films from the "Golden Age" of German cinema. Films by Wiene, Lange, Murnau, Pabst, Ruttmann, Sternberg, Sagan and Riefenstahl. Conducted in English. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

GER 250 Advanced Intermediate German: Environmental Culture (4 Credits)

Discussion of modern German culture, society and technology, with an emphasis on environmental issues. Introduction and practice of more advanced elements of grammar, work on expanding vocabulary specific for academic fields, and weekly writing and oral assignments. Students who successfully complete GER 250 are eligible for the year-long Study Abroad Program in Hamburg. Prerequisite: GER 200 or equivalent, or by placement. {F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

GER 260 German All Over Campus (4 Credits)

This course emphasizes a "hands on" approach to language acquisition. It will be conducted at various academic locations around campus in collaboration with colleagues of the respective departments and facilities. (Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Biology, Studio Art, Landscape studies, Museum, etc.). Students will engage in experiments and other activities at these various locations through which they will learn to express themselves in written and oral German in a variety of disciplines and situations. The practical activities will be accompanied by new grammar topics appropriate for an advanced intermediate course as well as literary and journalistic texts that complement the topics. Prerequisite: GER 200 or placement. Enrollment limited to 18. {F}

Spring

GER 269tf Colloquium: Topics in Transnational German Studies-The Forest (4 Credits)

This course studies the forest as a literary construct, cultural asset, economic resource and key ecological player. German social movements in the 19th century were conspicuously invested in the forest as a national symbol. This obsession with the “German forest” serves as a starting point to explore the significance of the forest on both sides of the Atlantic. Cultural artifacts like the Grimm’s fairy tales and German Romantic poetry influence American literature and art; mechanisms of exclusion and belonging, destruction and profiteering shape discourses on the natural world across the globe. A recent rise in narratives of interconnectedness may herald a paradigm shift in how both the US and German-speaking world thinks about the forest. (E) {H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Annually

GER 269tr Colloquium: Topics in Transnational German Studies-Transatlantic Romantic (4 Credits)

This course explores cultural exchange between German and the US in the nineteenth century. The class reads Margaret Fuller on Bettina von Arnim, explores the under-examined influence of Emerson on Nietzsche, follows in the footsteps of Thoreau and Goethe. Discussions are driven by student readings and research projects. As the class follows the Romantics’ explorations of nature, the environment, identity, death, gender and the unconscious, students delve into what it means to be human in the modern age and discover why the Romantic moment is still their own. In English, with readings in German available for students of German. Enrollment limited to 18. (E) {H}{L}

Spring, Annually

GER 271/ ENG 271 Imagining Evil (4 Credits)

Offered as GER 271 and ENG 271. This course explores how artists and thinkers over the centuries have grappled with the presence of evil--how to account for its perpetual recurrence, its ominous power, its mysterious allure. Standing at the junction of literature, philosophy, and religion, the notion of evil reveals much about the development of the autonomous individual, the intersection of morality, freedom and identity, and the confrontation of literary and historical evil. Readings include literary works from Milton, Goethe, Blake, Kleist, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Tolkien, Le Guin; theoretical texts from Augustine, Luther, Nietzsche, Freud, Arendt. Conducted in English. {L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

GER 300dg Topics in German Culture and Society-Deutsche Geschichte(n): Personal Stories Amid German History After 1945 (4 Credits)

The end of WWII triggered a set of events that still influence German society to this day. This course is designed to give an overview of historical events after 1945, including the Berlin Wall, Reunification and migration. These topics are approached through personal and public stories, drawing on the double meaning of the German word Geschichte, which translates to both “story” and “history.” Through narratives of a broad spectrum of genres (e.g., articles, documentaries, movies), students gain a thorough understanding of historical and contemporary social issues in Germany and improve their proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening. Prerequisite: GER 250 or GER 260, or equivalent. (E) {F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

GER 300hm Topics in German Culture and Society-Heimat: What is Home? (4 Credits)

This course investigates the concept of Heimat (‘home’) and its significance for individual people as well as for German culture and politics. This upper-level language course looks at the meanings of this concept and how they have changed over time. Through different genres and media, this course explores significant vocabulary and grammatical concepts in the context of the concept of Heimat. This includes films (Grün ist die Heide, Willkommen bei den Hartmanns) as well as articles from newspapers and magazines and excerpts from selected literature. Prerequisite: GER 250 or GER 260 or equivalent. (E) {F}

GER 300rt Topics in German Culture and Society-German in Real Time (4 Credits)

This advanced German language class is based on the principle of learning through practice. In a hands-on exploration of the contemporary German media scene, language learners acquire increased stylistic flexibility and the rhetorical means to communicate effectively with different audiences. Focusing on newspapers, magazines and TV, students compare and analyze these media, study the kind of language they produce, and practice the stylistic conventions and features of each medium in a series of experiments. Prerequisites: GER 250 or 26. (E). {A}{F}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

GER 300se Topics in German Culture and Society-Growing Up German-Speaking in Europe (4 Credits)

This is an upper-level language course conducted within a cultural-historical framework. Objective: Develop students' ability to express thoughts on more abstract topics in German language by probing the discourse on the role of children and young people in German, Austrian and Swiss culture from the 18th century to the present. Vital component: Acquisition of suitable vocabulary and advances grammatical structures. Discussion: The rhetoric of education and family politics, pedagogical ideas and concepts put forth by famous writers like Kästner, Thoma, Janosch, Ende. {F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

GER 300sh Topics in German Culture and Society-German Songs, Language and History (4 Credits)

Music has always been an integral part of German culture, most famously in operas and symphonies. But songs are the most original and common expression of the time in which they were written and performed. This is an upper-level language course that will look at songs within a cultural historical framework. The objective is to develop students' ability to express thoughts on more abstract and complex topics in German language by probing the symbiosis of music and text in Germany from the Middle Ages to the present. The students will learn, analyze and perform a wide variety of songs. Prerequisites: GER 250 or GER 260 or equivalent. {A}{F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

GER 300vk Topics in German Culture and Society-Vom Krieg Zum Konsens: German Film Since 1945 (4 Credits)

This course investigates German film culture since the fall of the Third Reich. Included are works by Fatih Akin, Michael Haneke, Werner Herzog, Margarethe von Trotta and Wolfgang Staudte. Students learn to analyze film and conduct basic research in German. Discussion addresses aesthetic and technical issues; portrayals of race, gender, class and migration; divided Germany and its reunification; and filmic interventions into the legacy of Nazism. Conducted in German. Prerequisite: GER 250 or equivalent. {A}{F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

GER 350 Seminar: Language and the German Media (4 Credits)

A study of language, culture and politics in the German-language media; supplemental materials reflecting the interests and academic disciplines of students in the seminar. Practice of written and spoken German through compositions, linguistic exercises and oral reports. Conducted in German. Prerequisite: GER 300 or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {F}

Fall

GER 369wb/ ITL 369wb Seminar: Topics in Transnational Encounters-Nations Without Borders (4 Credits)

Offered as GER 369wb and ITL 369wb. Both Italy and Germany arise from a combination of mobile factors, including people, languages, ideas and ideologies that move across, beyond and before national borders. This course interrogates what it means to study a modern language, specifically German and Italian, by reflecting on this fluidity and mobility of languages and cultures. Areas of inquiry include: the reception of works and authors in translation, the geographic and social mobility of people across multiple borders, the role of memory in connecting the national past with other regions and languages, and the impact of transnational cultures in shaping gender, racial and cultural identities.  Cannot be taken S/U. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required.

Spring, Variable

GER 400 Special Studies (1-4 Credits)

Arranged in consultation with the department. Admission for junior and senior majors by permission of the department.

Fall, Spring

GER 430D Honors Project (4-8 Credits)

This is a full-year course.

Fall

German Crosslisted Courses

ENG 271/ GER 271 Imagining Evil (4 Credits)

Offered as GER 271 and ENG 271. This course explores how artists and thinkers over the centuries have grappled with the presence of evil--how to account for its perpetual recurrence, its ominous power, its mysterious allure. Standing at the junction of literature, philosophy, and religion, the notion of evil reveals much about the development of the autonomous individual, the intersection of morality, freedom and identity, and the confrontation of literary and historical evil. Readings include literary works from Milton, Goethe, Blake, Kleist, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Tolkien, Le Guin; theoretical texts from Augustine, Luther, Nietzsche, Freud, Arendt. Conducted in English. {L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FYS 174 Merging and Converging Cultures: What Is Gained and Lost in Translation? (4 Credits)

By reaching across linguistic and cultural barriers, this course fosters understanding of different worldviews and introduces students to the varied field of translation in order to develop their critical thinking skills and broaden their intercultural awareness. Translation is a fundamental human activity; the way individuals perceive the world influences their interpretation and understanding of all communication. Traditional forms of translations and interpretation will be studied along with adaptation/ transformation of literary texts into films and different art forms. Topics studied include: translation, theories, ethics of translation, invisibility/visibility of translators, transculturation, subtitling and dubbing, machine translation and globalization. Competence in a language other than English or enrollment in a foreign language course is not required, but highly recommended. Enrollment limited to 16 first years. WI

Fall, Spring, Variable

GER 189/ ITL 189 Thinking Transnationally: European Culture Across Borders (2 Credits)

This series of interdepartmental lectures by a selection of Smith faculty examines the myth of cultural homogeneity perpetuated by the ideal of “native” linguistic competency. These lectures explore hybridity and interaction between cultures and languages as the rule, not the exception. The goal is to help students comprehend the transnational, multilingual web into which they are woven, and to appreciate how they contribute to that web, to appreciate their own position as transnational subjects. By adopting a transnational perspective, students learn to question the primacy of the “native,” whether as non-native speakers in the US or as language-learners looking abroad. Graded S/U only. {H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Annually

JUD 260 Colloquium: Yiddish Literature and Culture (4 Credits)

Why did Yiddish, the everyday language of Jews in east Europe and beyond, so often find itself at the bloody crossroads of art and politics? From dybbuks and shlemiels to radicals and revolutionaries, the course explores Yiddish stories, drama, and film as sites for social activism, ethnic and gender performance, and artistic experimentation in Europe, the Soviet Union, and the Americas. How did post-Holocaust engagements with Yiddish memorialize a lost civilization and forge an imagined homeland defined by language and culture rather than borders? All texts in translation. No prerequisites. Enrollment limited to 18. {L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

JUD 287 The Holocaust (4 Credits)

The history of the Final Solution, from the role of European antisemitism and the origins of Nazi ideology to the implementation of a systematic program to annihilate European Jewry. How did Hitler establish a genocidal regime? How did Jews physically, culturally and theologically respond to this persecution?. {H}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

JUD 362yl Seminar: Topics in Jewish Studies-Yiddishland (4 Credits)

Explores the relationship between East European Jewish history and post-Holocaust and post-Communist memory through the prism of Yiddishland, the dream of a transnational homeland defined by language and culture rather than borders. The seminar includes a course field trip to Poland over March break. Enrollment limited to 15. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {H}{L}

Spring, Variable

WLT 204fl Topics: Writings and Rewritings-Running with the Devil: The Faust Legend (4 Credits)

What is a soul and what is it worth? Why are humans fascinated by the forbidden? What would a person be willing to sacrifice to unlock the secrets of the universe? For over five hundred years writers have returned to the story of Faust, the scholar-magician-charlatan who sold his soul to the devil, to explore such questions. Each retelling provides a window into the struggles and ambitions of its age, revealing what it means to be human in turbulent times. This course examines the Faust legend in a variety of forms (novels, short stories, poetry, dramas, films) from a variety of periods, ranging from 1587 to 2020. Works from Marlowe, Calderón, Goethe, Berlioz, Turgenev, Alcott and more. Not open to students who have taken FYS 187. Enrollment limited to 30. (E) {L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

WLT 218 Holocaust Literature (4 Credits)

What is a Holocaust story? How does literature written in extremis in ghettos, death camps or in hiding differ from the vast post-war literature about the Holocaust? How to balance competing claims of individual and collective experience, the rights of the imagination and the pressures for historical accuracy? Selections from a variety of genres (diary, reportage, poetry, novel, graphic novel, memoir, film, monuments, museums) and critical theories of representation. All readings in translation. No prerequisites. {H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

Italian Courses

ITL 110Y Elementary Italian (5 Credits)

One-year course that covers the basics of Italian language and culture and allows students to enroll in ITL 220 in the following year. Students entering in the spring need department permission and must take a placement exam. In the second semester, students may change sections only with instructor permission. Yearlong courses cannot be divided at midyear with credit for the first semester. Cannot be taken S/U. Corequisite: ITL 135 strongly recommended. Enrollment limited to 20.

Fall, Spring

ITL 111 Accelerated Elementary Italian (5 Credits)

One-semester course designed for students with a background in other foreign languages. It covers the material of the yearlong ITL 110Y in one semester. Students should enroll in ITL 220 the following semester. Does not fulfill the foreign language requirement for Latin honors. Course may be taken S/U only by seniors. Corequisite: ITL 135 strongly recommended. Enrollment limited to 20.

Fall, Spring

ITL 135 Elementary Italian Conversation (2 Credits)

Designed to support beginning Italian students and to help them improve their conversational skills. This course offers intensive practice in pronunciation, vocabulary, oral comprehension and conversation. It includes class discussions, role-playing and short oral presentations. Corequisite: ITL 110Y or ITL 111. Enrollment limited to 12. {F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ITL 189/ GER 189 Thinking Transnationally: European Culture Across Borders (2 Credits)

This series of interdepartmental lectures by a selection of Smith faculty examines the myth of cultural homogeneity perpetuated by the ideal of “native” linguistic competency. These lectures explore hybridity and interaction between cultures and languages as the rule, not the exception. The goal is to help students comprehend the transnational, multilingual web into which they are woven, and to appreciate how they contribute to that web, to appreciate their own position as transnational subjects. By adopting a transnational perspective, students learn to question the primacy of the “native,” whether as non-native speakers in the US or as language-learners looking abroad. Graded S/U only. {H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Annually

ITL 200 Made in Italy (2 Credits)

“The name of Italy,” Mary Shelley wrote, “has magic in its very syllables.” With 65 million tourists per year, Italy has become one of the world’s most desirable destinations. What is it about the bel paese that is so enchanting? This course explores the allure of all things Italian, from iconic brands like Gucci and Ferrari to the Slow Food Movement. In addition to learning about Italy’s achievements in fashion, interior design, automobiles and architecture, the class examines how Italy came to occupy such a powerful place in the modern imagination. Taught in English. S/U only. {A}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ITL 205 Savoring Italy: Recipes and Thoughts on Italian Cuisine and Culture (2 Credits)

This course examines Italy’s varied geography, history and artistic tradition to further appreciate Italy’s rich, delicious, yet simple cuisine. In our travels we move from the caffè to the pizzeria, to the trattoria, to the pasticceria, to the enoteca to probe the cultural impact Italian cuisine has on promoting a holistic philosophy for eating/drinking/speaking best reflected by the now renowned Italian Slow Food Movement. Taught in English. S/U only. Enrollment limited to 100. {L}

Fall

ITL 220 Intermediate Italian (4 Credits)

Comprehensive grammar review through practice in writing and reading. Literary texts and cultural material constitute the base for in-class discussions and compositions. Students taking ITL 220 are strongly encouraged to take a conversation course. Taking both courses strengthens students’ confidence and ability to become proficient in Italian. Prerequisite: ITL 110Y or ITL 111 or equivalent. {F}

Fall, Spring

ITL 235 Intermediate Italian Conversation (2 Credits)

Designed to support Intermediate Italian students to help them improve their conversational skills, this course offers intensive practice in pronunciation, vocabulary, oral comprehension and conversation. It includes class discussions, role-playing and short oral presentations. Prerequisite: two semesters of ITL 110Y or by placement. {F}

Fall, Spring

ITL 240 Italian Stylistics (4 Credits)

Fall, Spring, Variable

ITL 245 Culture in Context: An Italian Immersion. When in Florence... (4 Credits)

This course offers an in-depth study of Italian culture to broaden the students' understanding of Italian history, literature and customs. Through readings, discussions, interactions with native speakers and films, students gain a good understanding of Italian society. This course also intends to further develop students’ intermediate knowledge of the Italian language and prepare them for their study-abroad experience. Prerequisites: ITL 110Y or ITL 111, and ITL 220; or by placement. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ITL 250 Italian Commedia: Italy on Stage Through the Centuries (4 Credits)

This course focuses on the Italian commedia and aims to reflect on the literary, cultural, social and political meanings that this genre assumed through the centuries. Texts str mainly from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the 1700s by authors such as Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli, Ludovico Ariosto and Carlo Goldoni. Special attention is given to modern stage performances in light of their cultural and social backgrounds. This course further develops students’ knowledge of the Italian language and prepares them for their study-abroad experience. Prerequisite: ITL 220 or equivalent or by placement. Taught in Italian. {F}{L}

Spring

ITL 275 Advanced Italian Conversation (2 Credits)

This course is designed to help advanced Italian students maintain their level of spoken language while at the same time further their knowledge of contemporary Italian society and culture. It enables students to express themselves with an advanced degree of fluency and proficiency as well as appropriate use of formal and/or informal register. Prerequisite: ITL 235 or placement exam to ensure correct language level. Instructor permission required. {F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ITL 299/ POR 299/ SPN 299/ FRN 299 Teaching Romance Languages: Theories and Techniques on Second Language Acquisition (4 Credits)

Offered as FRN 299, ITL 299, POR 299 and SPN 299. The course explores the issues in world language instruction and research that are essential to the teaching of Romance languages. Special focus will be on understanding local, national and international multilingual communities as well as theories, methods, bilingualism and heritage language studies. Topics include the history of Romance languages, how to teach grammar and vocabulary, the role of instructors and feedback techniques. The critical framing provided will help students look at schools as cultural sites, centers of immigration and globalization. Class observations and scholarly readings help students understand the importance of research in the shaping of the pedagogical practice of world languages. Prerequisite: At least 4 semesters (or placement to equivalent level) of a Romance language taught at Smith (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or French). Enrollment limited to 25. {F}{S}

Fall, Spring, Annually

ITL 332 Dante's Inferno (4 Credits)

Detailed study of Dante’s Infernoand Medieval culture. Conducted in English. A separate discussion session in Italian (ITL 332D) is a required part of the course for Italian majors and minors. Five credits if combined with ITL 332D. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ITL 334 Boccaccio: Decameron (4 Credits)

This course goes deep into the world of Boccaccio’s Decameron, a collection of colorful tales that paint a vivid and often scandalous picture of medieval life. The class examines a rousing cast of characters:  sly wives, shrewd merchants, sensual nuns, roguish painters, rebellious daughters and so on, all negotiating the rapidly evolving social and sexual mores of their time. Boccaccio’s storytellers, in weaving their tales, also construct the foundation of a new and more just community. In this course, students explore this masterpiece of Italian literature with an eye to what they can learn from this text in the present moment. Taught in Italian. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ITL 335 Boccaccio: Decameron--Italian Language Discussion (1 Credit)

Conducted in Italian. Must be taken concurrently with ITL 334. Enrollment limited to 18 senior Italian majors and minors, and to others by permission of the instructor. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ITL 340 The Theory and Practice of Translation (4 Credits)

This is a course for very advanced students of Italian with strong English language skills. It is a practical course in translation from Italian into English based on solid theoretical readings. It has a progressive structure; it includes literary and technical texts as well as a section on subtitling. During the second half of the semester students select a work for independent translation as the major component of their portfolio of translated work. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission required. This course does not count as a senior seminar for Italian majors. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ITL 369wb/ GER 369wb Seminar: Topics in Transnational Encounters-Nations Without Borders (4 Credits)

Offered as GER 369wb and ITL 369wb. Both Italy and Germany arise from a combination of mobile factors, including people, languages, ideas and ideologies that move across, beyond and before national borders. This course interrogates what it means to study a modern language, specifically German and Italian, by reflecting on this fluidity and mobility of languages and cultures. Areas of inquiry include: the reception of works and authors in translation, the geographic and social mobility of people across multiple borders, the role of memory in connecting the national past with other regions and languages, and the impact of transnational cultures in shaping gender, racial and cultural identities.  Cannot be taken S/U. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required.

Spring, Variable

ITL 400 Special Studies (1-4 Credits)

For qualified juniors and senior majors only. Admission by permission of the instructor and the chair.

Fall, Spring

ITL 430D Honors Project (4 Credits)

This is a full-year course, 8 credits total.

Fall, Spring, Annually

Italian Crosslisted Courses

FRN 299/ ITL 299/ POR 299/ SPN 299 Teaching Romance Languages: Theories and Techniques on Second Language Acquisition (4 Credits)

Offered as FRN 299, ITL 299, POR 299 and SPN 299. The course explores the issues in world language instruction and research that are essential to the teaching of Romance languages. Special focus will be on understanding local, national and international multilingual communities as well as theories, methods, bilingualism and heritage language studies. Topics include the history of Romance languages, how to teach grammar and vocabulary, the role of instructors and feedback techniques. The critical framing provided will help students look at schools as cultural sites, centers of immigration and globalization. Class observations and scholarly readings help students understand the importance of research in the shaping of the pedagogical practice of world languages. Prerequisite: At least 4 semesters (or placement to equivalent level) of a Romance language taught at Smith (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or French). Enrollment limited to 25. {F}{S}

Fall, Spring, Annually

FYS 143 The Mind of Plants: A Journey into Plant consciousness and the human relationship to plant life (4 Credits)

Plants are perhaps the most necessary form of life, providing nutrition and thus allowing life for all animals, including humans. Yet, humans have oftentimes a predilection for animals over plants. However, the idea that plants have a mind of their own has been a core element of indigenous stories, literary works, poetic imaginings, philosophical systems and experimental investigations worldwide. This course examines a series of lyrical, reflective, experiential and personal evocations of plant minds and their connection to humans. The class looks to literature and visual art, which have long been particularly attentive to the plant world, to answer the question, “How can we de-objectify plants and restore their dignity?” Enrollment limited to 16 first-years. (E) WI {L}

Fall, Alternate Years

FYS 174 Merging and Converging Cultures: What Is Gained and Lost in Translation? (4 Credits)

By reaching across linguistic and cultural barriers, this course fosters understanding of different worldviews and introduces students to the varied field of translation in order to develop their critical thinking skills and broaden their intercultural awareness. Translation is a fundamental human activity; the way individuals perceive the world influences their interpretation and understanding of all communication. Traditional forms of translations and interpretation will be studied along with adaptation/ transformation of literary texts into films and different art forms. Topics studied include: translation, theories, ethics of translation, invisibility/visibility of translators, transculturation, subtitling and dubbing, machine translation and globalization. Competence in a language other than English or enrollment in a foreign language course is not required, but highly recommended. Enrollment limited to 16 first years. WI

Fall, Spring, Variable

GER 189/ ITL 189 Thinking Transnationally: European Culture Across Borders (2 Credits)

This series of interdepartmental lectures by a selection of Smith faculty examines the myth of cultural homogeneity perpetuated by the ideal of “native” linguistic competency. These lectures explore hybridity and interaction between cultures and languages as the rule, not the exception. The goal is to help students comprehend the transnational, multilingual web into which they are woven, and to appreciate how they contribute to that web, to appreciate their own position as transnational subjects. By adopting a transnational perspective, students learn to question the primacy of the “native,” whether as non-native speakers in the US or as language-learners looking abroad. Graded S/U only. {H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Annually

POR 211 Transnational Visions on Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed (4 Credits)

This course combines theories and techniques created by Augusto Boal for his "Theater of the Oppressed" with those of Paulo Freire in “Pedagogy of the Oppressed." It will also involve transnational and educational perspectives that prompted Boal’s view of theater as a political act, including contributions from philosophers such as Aristoteles and Machiavelli and from playwrights such as Bertolt Brecht and Dario Fo. Students will be exposed to critical pedagogy and performance theories in the first part of the course, and, in the second part, will experiment with theatrical games based on Boal's approach. Course conducted in English. . All course content will be in English, but the students who can read Portuguese, Italian and German will have the option of reading some texts in the original versions. Cannot be taken S/U. Enrollment limited to 25. {F}{S}

Spring, Variable

WLT 218 Holocaust Literature (4 Credits)

What is a Holocaust story? How does literature written in extremis in ghettos, death camps or in hiding differ from the vast post-war literature about the Holocaust? How to balance competing claims of individual and collective experience, the rights of the imagination and the pressures for historical accuracy? Selections from a variety of genres (diary, reportage, poetry, novel, graphic novel, memoir, film, monuments, museums) and critical theories of representation. All readings in translation. No prerequisites. {H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

Additional Programmatic Information

An Italian studies and Italian language and literature major who desires to conduct independent research on a specific aspect of Italian literature or culture during her senior year is eligible to apply for the honors program, either at the completion of the second semester of her junior year or before the end of the second week of classes in September of her senior year.

Normally, a student who applies to do honors work must have a 3.5 GPA in her major. Honors students work closely with a faculty adviser to conceptualize and carry out study that culminates in a thesis, written in Italian, of about 50 to 60 pages or an equivalent project; this work is done as ITL 430d (full year, 8 credits). ITL 430d may substitute for one of the 300-level Italian courses required to complete the ITS or ITL major; however, it cannot substitute the senior seminar or ITL 332/334.

Honors Exam and Defense

During the reading/exam period following the second semester of her senior year, the honors candidate will take an oral examination based on her thesis and on the material covered in the classes she has taken for her major. The thesis defense will be a short presentation by the student (no longer than 10 to 15 minutes) followed by a question and answer period. Sample questions will be provided to the candidate a week before the exam. The oral exam and the defense will be conducted in Italian. They will count as 20 percent of the final honors evaluation. The written thesis will count 50 percent. The grades in the major are 30 percent.

Please check the course catalog for up-to-date information. You can also see the Five College course schedule.

Language Courses

Credit is not granted for the first semester only of our introductory language course ITL 110Y. No satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades allowed in Italian language courses with the only exception of ITL 111 which can be taken S/U ONLY by seniors.

  • ITL 110Y Elementary Italian 
  • ITL 111 Accelerated Elementary Italian 
  • ITL 135 Elementary Italian Conversation 
  • ITL 220 Intermediate Italian 
  • ITL 235 Intermediate Italian Conversation 

Literature & Culture Courses

The prerequisite for ITL 250 is ITL 220. There is no prerequisite for ITL 200, 205, 248 and 252 or FYS courses taught by an Italian Studies faculty member because they are conducted in English.

The prerequisite for 300-level courses conducted in Italian is fluency in written and spoken Italian, and permission of the instructor.

  • ITL 200 Made in Italy: Italian Design and World Culture 
  • ITL 205 Savoring Italy: Recipes and Thoughts on Italian Cuisine and Culture 
  • ITL 245 Culture in Context: An Italian Immersion 
  • ITL 250 Survey of Italian Literature I 
  • ITL 281 Italian Cinema Looks East 
  • ITL 299  Teaching Romance Languages: Theories and Techniques on Second Language Acquisition
  • ITL 332 Finding Dante: A Reader's Guide to Getting out of Hell
  • ITL 340 The Theory and Practice of Translation 
  • ITL 344 Senior Seminar: Italian Women Writers 
    Women in Italian Society: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 
  • ITL 400 Special Studies 

Cross-Listed Courses

  • FYS 174 Merging and Converging Cultures: What is Gained and Lost in Translation?   
  • FYS 185 Style Matters: The Power of the Aesthetic in Italian Cinema 
  • ITL/RES/WLT 341 (Calderwood Seminar) Mobilities: How People, Goods and Information Cross Borders

Faculty

Gianna Albaum

Italian

Lecturer in Italian Studies (Department of German and Italian)

Emeriti

Giovanna Bellesia  
Professor Emerita of Italian Studies

Anna Botta 
Professor Emerita of Italian Studies and of World Literatures

Victoria Poletto  
Senior Lecturer Emerita in Italian Language & Literature

Resources

Advisers

Maria Succi-Hempstead

Requirements

The following courses must be taken by spring semester, sophomore year, to attend Smith in Florence:

  • ITL 110y (first year both semesters) 
    or ITL 111 (first year spring semester)
  • ITL 220 or ITL 230 or ITL 231 (sophomore year fall sem.)
  • ITL 250 (Survey I, sophomore year spring sem.)

The following courses must be taken in Florence:

  • ITL 251 (Survey II)
  • ITL 240 (Stylistics)

Please Note

Courses taken during Smith in Florence will be numbered differently and will be considered as equivalent to those offered on the Smith campus, subject to the discretion of the department.

More Information

For more information about Smith in Florence, visit the study abroad website.

Michele Cantarella Memorial “Dante Prize,” established in 1988 by family, colleagues, friends and former students. This prize is awarded to a senior for the best essay on any aspect of The Divine Comedy or Boccaccio’s Decameron. Entries must be submitted by email by Thursday, May 12 at noon, to the department’s administrative assistant, Kathleen Gauger. To ensure the integrity of the blind review of all submissions, write your name on a separate title page. The papers will be forwarded to the reviewing panel anonymously.

The Anacleta C. Vezzetti Prize is awarded to a senior for the best piece of writing in Italian on any aspect of the culture of Italy. Entries must be submitted by email by Thursday, May 12 at noon, to the department’s administrative assistant, Kathleen Gauger. To ensure the integrity of the blind review of all submissions, write your name on a separate title page. The papers will be forwarded to the reviewing panel anonymously.

The Gamma Kappa Alpha Italian Honor Society has chapters throughout the United States.

Why Study Italian?

Contact Department of Italian Studies

22 Green Street, Room 104
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-3591

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Administrative Assistant:
Kathleen Gauger

Individual appointments may be arranged directly with faculty.