Spring 2016


The Italian American Experience in Literature and Film

ITT3520 - Professor Mark Pietralunga

The course is designed to assist students in exploring ways in which Italian and American cultures have combined to form a distinctive ethnic culture. Students will examine the literary and cinematic contributions that Italian Americans have made during the past century. The questions to be addressed in the course include: How and why the media has stereotyped the Italian Americans? What it means to be raised in a Little Italy? What it is like to be Italian in our society? How gender dictates of an ancient heritage have shaped the roles of family members? How does America, the land of opportunity and of infinite possibility, unravel the family bond? And how Italian Americans struggle between assimilation and the preservation of one's cultural birthright? Along with the question of gender, this course will explore the Italian American culture in the context of class structure and ethnicity. Upon completing this course, you will be able to analyze Italian American literature and film against their generic and (multi)cultural contexts, will have improved your writing skills, and will have gained an understanding of the role(s) and uses of literature and cinema in a diverse society


Between La dolce vita and La grande bellezza: The (In)Consistency of Italian Identity

ITW4481/ITW5486 Readings in Contemporary Italian Prose (In Italian)

Professor Irene Zanini-Cordi

In her recent prize-winning book After La Dolce Vita. A Cultural Prehistory of Berlusconi's Italy, Alessia Ricciardiborrows the category of "lightness" from Calvino's Six Memos for the Next Millenium and argues that together with "sweetness", "weakness" and "softness" it functions "in the Italian context as (a) key trope of belonging and self-identification".

Playing with the title of Calvino's sixth memo (Consistency), this course will explore various manifestations of Italian identity as represented in film, documentary and literature from around the time of Federico Fellini's La dolce vita (1960) until the present with Paolo Sorrentino's La grande bellezza (2013) and Paolo Virzì's Il capitale umano (2014). By investigating how literature and film have addressed themes like history, politics, industrialization, religion, gender, crime and immigration we will attempt to define the consistency and inconsistencies of Italian identity(ies).

We will consider the works of internationally renowned authors (Calvino, Moravia, Fallaci, Maraini, Baricco), of established ones (Morazzoni, Tabucchi, Carlotto), but also of new, emergent voices (Marazzi, Agus, Iodice). Movie directors will piece together their narratives through the visual, theatre actors like Marco Paolini will combine the force of voice and gesture, poets like Bianca Tarozzi will rely on the power of suggestion of the sheer written word. A new generation of immigrant writers will reveal what it is for them to be Italian, while Frank Iodice (Le api di ghiaccio)will tell us why, in order to write, he felt compelled to leave Italy.


The Italian Renaissance: Literature and Culture of Humanism and the Courts

Tuesday/Thursday 2:00 - 3:15 PM BEL 108

Professor Reinier Leushuis

This course will be a study of the humanist and courtly literature and culture of the Italian Renaissance. In a representative selection of readings we will study the principal themes and tensions governing the literary and artistic culture of this time period: the individual and the society in the emerging city-states, the dynamics of the courts, the relationship between the arts (in particular sculpture, architecture and painting), female agency in the Renaissance, the survival of chivalric ideals and their comic treatment in literature, and the debates on the Italian language. This course is not a survey course, but rather we will do an in-depth analysis of substantial parts of each author's work, focusing not only on the cultural and artistic context, but also on the text's literary characteristics: form, genre, style, and reader-awareness. We will also discuss a variety of other materials, such as artworks, musical excerpts, and one film.

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