Prior Graduate Courses



ITAL GA 1981 War and Cinema

Mondays, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m
(Cross-listed with History)

This course investigates the relationship of cinema and war around the world from the early 20th century to the present. From the ItaloTurkish War for control of Libya (19111912) onwards, film has been integral to shaping public consciousness of military events as they unfold and the public memory of wars after the guns have fallen silent. The course looks at both feature films and nonfiction: we will watch government propaganda, commercial entertainment films and independent documentaries. Topics to be addressed include representations of violence and the enemy; the aestheticization of violence and war as spectacle; how changes in military technology have generated new modes of witnessing; the war film as history film. Case studies include the two World Wars, civil wars, colonial conquest and anticolonial struggle, Vietnam, the Arab Spring, and American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

ITAL GA 2192.002 Dante's Divine Comedy:  Inferno & Purgatorio (PLEASE SELECT SECTION 2 FOR THIS COURSE)
Wednesdays, 3:30 - 6:10 p.m.
Case Library, 2nd Floor, Room 203

The first of a sequence of two semesters, the course approaches The Divine Comedy both as a poetic masterpiece and as an encyclopedia of medieval culture. Through a close textual analysis of the Inferno, and the first half of Purgatorio, students learn how to approach Dante’s poetry as a vehicle for thought, an instrument of self-discovery, and a way to understand and affect the historical reality Dante utilizes the scientific-philosophical encyclopaedia of his time, but relives it in light of the Christian message. A text of the Christian "paideia" par excellence, the Commedia, is also an extraordinary modern work. Organized on the patrimony of values formulated by classical- medieval culture, the Commedia is a journey towards awareness, in which knowledge implies the rediscovery of the self.  These themes will be investigated in the course along with the central theme of the Commedia as a discourse about the "other world" which implies the unveiling of the meaning of "this world." The course will be conducted in English. Dante’s Commedia will be read in light of Dante’s “minor works.”  The objective of the course is to familiarize students with one of the most significant texts in Western Culture. Through Dante’s text students will gain a perspective on the Biblical, Christian, and Classical traditions as well as on the historical, literary, philosophical context of medieval Europe.

Text: The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Purgatorio, 2 vols. Translated by R. Hollander and J. Hollander, Notes by R. Hollander. New York: Doubleway, 2000-2007.

Additional reading:
  Jacoff, Rachel (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Dante. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge, University Press, 2004.

ITAL GA 2885 Obscenity in Literature and the Law
Tuesdays, 3:30 - 6:10 p.m.
Case Library, 2nd Floor, Room 203
Falloff & Vise

What is obscenity? Taught by a medieval historian and a scholar of modern and contemporary literature, this course traces a history of obscenity as legal and aesthetic category. Analyzing juridical material from medieval and modern Italy, we will reflect on the shifting parameters according to which obscenity is understood, censored, and punished. Course readings will also include a selection of fiction writing, essays, public art, and treatises that aim to traverse boundaries of propriety and/or morality. We will ask: Is there a relationship between sex and the subversive in obscenity? What role does the censor play in cultivating the obscene? When sexual mores change, how does obscenity too?

ITAL GA 3030 Research Preparation in Italian Studies (2 credits)
Thursdays, 3:30 - 6:10
Case Library, 2nd Floor, Room 203

Mondays, 1:30 - 4:10 p.m.
Classroom:  Deut_AUD

(Cross-Listed with the English Department; PLEASE SELECT SECTION ONE FOR THIS COURSE)

This class will provide an introduction to the past and the future of Renaissance Studies.  It is designed for graduate students across the disciplines.  Our broad aim is to ‘translate’ -- that is, carry forward into the future and so reactivate -- the Renaissance as an object of study, first by sketching the historiographical and disciplinary fortunes that produced it; and then by assessing opportunities for new approaches and research paths.

Our title invokes the work of Jacob Burckhardt, Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italian (1860), the pioneering work of cultural history that is responsible in large part for what we mean when we use the term ‘Renaissance’.   We will follow the development of this period concept as it was consolidated and re-inflected in the early 20th century by the scholars associated with the Warburg library.

The course is interdisciplinary to a high degree but does not pretend to survey the entirety of European experience in this period.  Rather the focus will be on symbolic expression and its medial and rhetorical formats, including painting, poetry, prose, architecture, theater, dance, music and their various codings, inscriptions, and archivings.  But the concept of the symbol is broad, and we mean it to unfold eventually into an anthropology of meaning that can potentially embrace all aspects of life.

click here for SUMMER 2016 Graduate Course Listings

FALL 2016

Theories of the Neo-Avant-Garde in Post-war Europe, 1950-1970
FINH-GA 3036/ ITAL-GA 1981
Ara Merjian
Tuesdays 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

This course will address the question of the neo-avant-garde, both as it developed in post-war Europe and as it gave rise to subsequent theorizations in art historical discourse.  The first part of the course will examine competing arguments about the neo-avant-garde adduced over the last several decades.  We will follow this theoretical and historiographic overview with a series of case studies in historical context, including Neo-dada/Nouveau Réalisme, Situationism (and related practices), and Arte Povera.  The historical and intellectual boundaries of these phenomena are (rightly) contested; we will examine their particular manifestations, but also probe their rapport with Cold War politics, the historical avant-gardes, specific formal and conceptual strategies, and the question of postmodernism.  Readings will include work by Renato Poggioli, Perry Anderson, Fredric Jameson, Hal Foster, Hubert Van Den Berg, Benjamin Buchloh, Umberto Eco, Peter Bürger, Guy Debord, Boris Groys, Alan Kaprow, Piero Manzoni, Clement Greenberg, Pierre Restany.  Students will develop and present case studies of their own choosing, leading to a final research project and paper.

ITAL GA 2689/COLIT-GA 2155 Topics in Early Modern Written Culture:  The Poetics of Epic and Exile
Jane Tylus & Lina Bolzoni
Tuesdays 12:30 - 3:15 p.m.

This course studies the relation of written texts of the early modern period to their political and historical contexts and their cultural role.
A focus on epic (in)hospitalities from Homer through Milton, with special attention to Virgil's Aeneid, Dante's Purgatorio and Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Liberated. We will also read a number of critical works that re-emerged or were written during the early modern period (Aristotle's Poetics, Longinus's treatise on the Sublime, Joachim du Bellay's La Deffence et illustration de la langue francoyse, texts from the Ariosto-Tasso debate) along with modern theoretical works that will facilitate our grasp of the dynamics of exile and homelessness more generally (Derrida's Of Hospitality, Agamben's Homo Sacer, Kant's Third Critique).  

ITAL GA 1986 Documentary Italian Style
David Forgacs
Thursdays 3:30 - 6:10 p.m.

Non-fiction films have been made in Italy since the beginnings of cinema, yet they are less well known than those made in France, Britain or North and South America, despite the cult status of a few Italian documentarists, such as De Seta and Grifi, and the fact that many Italian directors of features, from Antonioni and Bertolucci to Pasolini and Visconti, also made non-fictions. The course has three main aims: (1) to familiarize students with a sample of Italian non-fiction films of different types: instructional, industrial, newsreel, propaganda, ethnographic, social, memoir, found footage; (2) to equip them to engage critically with these films through close analysis and reading of key texts on documentary; (3) to help them produce high-level critical writing about Italian documentary, paying particular attention to film style. The course consists of weekly readings, viewings and seminars and is graded on class participation, regular assignments and a final paper of 15-20 pages. A few non-Italian films will be viewed, either whole or in part, for comparison and context. Students will be invited to make by the end of the course a visual project, not formally graded, to complement their written paper. A knowledge of Italian will be an asset, but all prescribed films will either have English subtitles or an accompanying written translation or summary and all required readings will be in English.

ITAL GA 2192 Dante's Lyric Poetry and the Medieval Tradition of Lyrical Poetry  

Maria Luisa Ardizzone
Tuesdays 3:30 - 6:10 p.m.

The course rereads the lyric poetry of Dante as a sort of diary of the intellectual and creative history of the poet beginning from his early youth to his maturity. We will examine the texts by looking at the relationship and exchanges between Dante and the poets of his circle, together with the poetic, rhetorical, and philosophical problems that such poetry faced. We will read also texts of the Italian lyrical tradition from the poets of the Sicilian school to Petrarch and Boccaccio.

***The course will be given in English, is conceived as a seminar and is open to both graduate and undergraduate students.

Dante’s Lyric Poetry. 
Editors K. Foster and P. Boyde. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967.
The Poetry of the Sicilian School. Translated by F. Jensen.New York:Garland,1986
The Poetry of Guido Guinizzelli.Translated by R.Edwards.New York: Garland,1987
The Poetry of Guido Cavalcanti.Translated by L.Nelson.New York:Garland,1986
Ardizzone, M.L. Guido Cavalcanti. The Other Middle Ages. London, Toronto: Toronto
University Press, 2002.

ITAL GA 2165 Tiro a Segno Fellow:  Italy and the United States in a Transatlantic Context -- From the American-Spanish War to the Early Cold War
Matteo Pretelli, Tiro a Segno Visiting Professor
Wednesdays 2:00 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.

The course aims to analyze the complex socio-political and cultural relations between Italy and the United States within the wider context of European and American transatlantic relationship. Temporarily the module will span from the 1898 American-Spanish War (the beginning of the 'American century') till the beginning of the Cold War and the formation of blocs. Specifically, it will end by the inclusion of Italy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949. The period covered will be the core of Italy and American relationship and reciprocal perceptions, since it includes the years of mass migration from Italy towards the United States, World War I, the age of Italian Fascism, World War II and the placement of Italy into the Western pro-American bloc after the conflict.

ITAL-GA 3020 001 Ph.D. Exam Preparation Seminar
Ruth Ben-Ghiat



ITAL-GA 1981 Studies in Italian Culture: Old Things, New Materialisms
Rebecca Falkoff
Thursdays 3:30-6:10 p.m.

This course examines representations of junk, stuff, and waste in literary texts, and reflects on the ways in which these forms of indeterminate matter act on narrative temporalities and literary language. We ask how the human-object practices of hoarding, gleaning, scavenge, misuse, and fetishism change when performed in the immaterial realm of language, and what these object-practices look like as rhetorical and narrative strategies. A substantial portion of the course will be dedicated to readings of recent work in new materialism, thing theory, and affect theory, but we will also follow a roughly chronological itinerary through the landfills, flea markets, storerooms and other repositories of ‘good things in bad taste’ in (mostly) Italian prose from the late nineteenth century to the present.

Literary texts: Raffaello Baldini, Italo Calvino, Bruce Chatwin, Gabriele D’Annunzio, E. L. Doctorow, Carlo Emilio Gadda, Guido Gozzano, Michel Tournier, Bohumil Hrabal, Luigi Malerba, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

Critical works: Giorgio Agamben, Arjun Appadurai, Thierri Baldini, Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Jane Bennett, Lauren Berlant, Maurizia Boscagli, Bill Brown, Gilles Deleuze, Mary Douglas, Freud, Randy Frost and Gail Steketee, Scott Herring, David Kishik, Jacques Lacan, Bruno Latour, Raymond Malewitz, Francesco Orlando, Jonathan Scanlan, Susan Stewart, William Viney

Course conducted in English. Italian reading skills are strongly recommended but not required.

ITAL-GA 2311 Divine Comedy: Purgatorio

Maria Luisa Ardizzone
Tuesday 3:30-6:10PM
Class#: 20291

The course is conceived as a reading of Dante’s Purgatorio in its relation to Inferno and Paradiso. We will start with a general introduction to Dante’s Commedia in order to orient the students to an understanding of Dante’s masterpiece and the Purgatorio as part of it.

Purgatorio is the second section of the Divine Comedy, a very long poem traditionally judged to be one of the most important in Western culture. The first section is the Inferno, and the third and last the Paradiso. At the center of the poem is the human being, his condition in the after life and his punishment or reward. Taken literally, the theme is the state of the souls after the death. But allegorically, the true subject is moral life and thus the torments of the sins themselves or the enjoyment of a happy and saintly life. In the Inferno, Dante represents the problem of evil and the punishment that God’s justice inflicts upon the sinners. Hell is the place of eternal damnation. Purgatory, by contrast, is the place in which human beings are purged of their sins and become pure, thereby able to enter Paradise, which the Comedy describes as the place of eternal happiness.

In the poem, Purgatory is depicted as a mountain that Dante climbs in company with the Roman poet Virgil. Dante comes to know the seven levels of suffering and spiritual growth, until he reaches the Earthly Paradise located at the top of the mountain. Love is the compelling law of Purgatory, the law that is coincident with what our highest nature dictates. Purgatorio thus makes a universal appeal to the reader’s heart and intelligence. Love, here conceived as the seed of every virtue and of every vice, is the moving force of the ascent up Mount Purgatory toward the happiness of the Earthly Paradise. The course will provide a fresh approach to the Purgatorio with a focus on rebirth, regeneration, and purification. We will investigate Dante’s text focusing on theories of poetics and rhetoric, philosophy, art, and theology.

Course conducted in English.

ITAL-GA 2389 Studies in Medieval Culture: Medieval Italy

Melissa Vise
Monday 3:30-6:10PM
Class#: 20292

This course will survey the most important developments in the historiography of the Italian Middle Ages. Possible topics to be covered include but are not limited to: politics; civic religion; gender; trade; inter-religious contact and exchange; inquisition; urban vs. rural; humanism and notarial culture; slavery; intellectual history and the university; literacy and the vernacular; sexuality; the law and state formation; science and medicine; the northern communes; factionalism; the Norman South; and Arab and Byzantine influences.

ITAL-GA 2589 Studies in 16th Century Italian Literature: Italian Lyric from Petrarch to Marino

Virginia Cox
Wednesday 3:30-6:10PM
Class#: 19946

This course offers an overview of the development of lyric poetry in Italy from the fourteenth to the early seventeenth century, beginning with Petrarch’s refashioning of lyric style in his Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, and ending with the emergence of the Baroque as a literary movement. Stylistic developments over this period will be related to the differing historical contexts of production and consumption of lyric poetry, with a major thematic focus being the impact of print culture on the sixteenth-century lyric tradition, and another the influence on this tradition of the great religious reform movements of the sixteenth century. Other issues explored in the course are the gendering of the lyric voice in amatory and religious lyric; the emergence of the figure of the female poet in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; and the relationship between lyric poetry and the visual arts. The aim of the course is provide a secure grasp of the history of lyric poetry in this period as conventionally told and an acquaintance with its canonical authors (Petrarch, Bembo, Della Casa, Tasso, Marino), while, at the same time, allowing for exploration within new areas of research that have opened up especially in the past decade or so, notably the history of women’s engagement with lyric as readers and writers, and the development of religious lyric through the Counter-Reformation and into the Baroque.





ITAL-GA 9001 Letteratura Italiana, U. di Firenze

Course offered at Università di Firenze

To enroll in Albert for courses offered at the Università di Firenze, please contact the Department Administrator.

ITAL-GA 9883 The Narration of the South in Italian Cinema
Prof. Natalia Piombino
Mon. 3:00-5:45 p.m.

ITAL-GA 9981 Studies in Italian Culture: The Trial of Galileo
Prof. Karl Apphun
Thur. 10:15 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

ITAL-GA 9003 Work in progress seminar
Prof. Karl Apphun
Tue. 1:30-4:14 p.m.

This seminar, directed by the visiting faculty member, is intended to help students structure their work on their thesis, and prepare for the Graduate Studies symposium.

ITAL-GA 9891 Guided Individual Reading
(to enroll contact the Department Administrator after obtaining permission from the DGS)




FALL 2015


ITAL-GA 2192 Topics in Italian Literature: The Ethics of Pastoral
Jane Tylus and Susanne Wofford (Gallatin)
Wednesday 3:30-6:10PM

A team-taught seminar that will focus on some of the critical questions – aesthetic, ethical, mimetic - generated by pastoral, a literary form that has shown surprising resilience since its "origins" in Biblical texts and Theocritus’s Idylls. Among the problems we’ll be puzzling over: to what extent does the poet have the right to speak for the shepherd or peasant – those who "cannot represent themselves"? How does the space of the idyll or pastoral retreat come to mirror the space of literature itself? Why does early modernity engage with pastoral in so many forms – dramatic, poetic, the novel, painting, etc. – and what is the lasting legacy of that engagement?

The course will also explore the role of the gods in pastoral, from erotic epiphanies to the invisible power of the transcendent. We will ask why the rural gods are so prominent from the earliest periods on in both pastoral poetry and performance. Do the gods lend authority to an alternative stance or social reality, or do they implicitly endorse a traditionalist ideology that sustains the authority of monarch and social order? Other concerns will include the pastoral topics of elegaic loss, erotic lament, the tension between exile and "otium," and the presence of death in the pastoral arcadia.

Profs. Wofford and Tylus will move from antiquity (Theocritus, Virgil) to contemporary versions of pastoral (Brokeback Mountain and Jerusalem), with special attention to early modern English, Italian, and Spanish works (Shakespeare, Spenser, Cervantes, Tasso, Andreini, among others). We will also consider the critical tradition that has taken up pastoral as a model for critical and ethical inquiry (William Empson, Harry Berger, John Berger, Gayatri Spivak, Erwin Panofsky, Paul Alpers). 

Class conducted in English.


ITAL-GA 2389 Studies in Medieval Culture: The Italian Notary: Politicians, Poets and Paper-pushers

Melissa Vise
Thursday 3:30-6:10PM
Class#: 20096

What does it mean to do history from the middle? Historians often argue about top-down and bottom-up historical narratives. But what happens when we turn our eyes to hum-drum middling level bureaucrats? This course will investigate the figure of the humble Italian notary in medieval and Renaissance culture, oft overlooked but once found, found everywhere. A thirteenth-century Italian notary would likely draw up your agreement with your washerwoman, transcribe your deposition before the inquisition, dispense legal advice, develop a religious rationale for freeing the slaves, quote you some Cicero and some Ovid, write your will, and strong-arm you into fulfilling your civic duties. Over the last three decades, the Italian notary has undergone his own kind of renaissance in Italian studies. Not only his omnipresence but his exceptional political, literary and religious importance have come to be better understood. Scholars have also become more alert to the kinds of informants that notaries can be. For example, our knowledge of the cultural influence of Dante’s poetry changed when we began to look at the scribblings that medieval Italian notaries left in the margins of their notebooks.

This course will investigate the pivotal role that notaries played in humanism, developments in political theology, the political life of the guilds, and the writing and linguistic culture of medieval and Renaissance Italy generally. Primary sources will take center stage, but we will also pose a historiographical challenge: what are the changing ways we have used notarial writings, why have we used them in these ways, and how can we further push the limits of this source?

Class conducted in English. Readings will be in English and Italian. Latin reading skills appreciated but not required.

Course syllabus

ITAL-GA 2972 Italian Colonialism
Ruth Ben-Ghiat
Monday 3:30-6:10PM
Class#: 17753

This course explores Italian colonialism from the late 19th century through decolonization. Through readings of colonial travel literature, novels, films, diaries, memoirs, and other texts, students address the meaning of colonialism within Italian history and culture, the specificities of the Italian colonial case within broader trends of European imperialism, and the legacies of colonialism in contemporary Italy.

Class conducted in English.

Course syllabus

ITAL-GA 3142 Seminar on Dante: Dante's Inferno

Maria Luisa Ardizzone
Tuesday 3:30-6:10PM
Class#: 17754

The course will provide a fresh approach to the Inferno with a focus on the problem of evil in the Commedia. We will investigate Dante’s dramatization of the ontology of human beings and their inclination to materiality and materialism, which the poet considers the source of evil.
The course includes an introduction to Dante’s first work, the Vita Nuova, and a reading of sections of his treatise On Vernacular Speech and the Convivio.

Class conducted in English.

ITAL-GA 3020 PhD Exam Preparation

Class #1892

ITAL-GA 2891 Guided Individual Reading
(to enroll contact the Department Administrator after obtaining permission from the DGS)
Class #1519





ITAL-GA 9001 Letteratura Italiana, U. di Firenze

Course offered at Università di Firenze

To enroll in Albert for courses offered at the Università di Firenze, please contact the Department Administrator.

ITAL-GA 9004 Introduction to Research in Italian Studies

Rebecca Falkoff
Tuesday 3:00-5:45PM (9:00-11:45AM EST)
Class#: 1891

Class conducted in English.

ITAL-GA 9005 Introduction to Research in Florence: Libraries and Archives

Ilaria Sborgi
Thursday 10:30AM-1:15PM
Class #: 1941

Class conducted in Italian.

ITAL-GA 9192 Topics in Italian Literature: Murder in the Bel Paese

Rebecca Falkoff
Thursday 3:00-5:45PM
Class #: 22857

Class conducted in English.

ITAL-GA 9689 Studies in Early Modern Literature: Il romanzo cavalleresco del Rinascimento Italiano, tra epos e romanzo

Riccardo Bruscagli
Monday 9:00-11:45AM
Class #: 22860

Class conducted in Italian.






ITAL-GA 1981 Studies in Italian Culture: Language and Politics in Italy

Ruth Ben-Ghiat  and  Virginia Cox
Monday 3:30-6:10PM
Class#: 5534

This course sets out to explore the place and agency of language within the political sphere in Italy from the late middle ages to the twentieth century. Language is understood for the purposes of this course in a broad sense, including visual, as well as verbal, communicative practices and codes. After an introduction segment focused on historical and contemporary theoretical approaches to language in its social and political dimensions, the course will be structured in two principal segments, one examining key topoi of political discourse (appeals to national glory, to destiny, to virility, to renewal, to sacrifice); the other to important media of political communication (public speaking, painting and sculture, film, and civic ritual). The course will end with a consideration of the relation of language and politics in twenty-first century Italy with a particular focus on Berlusconi. One of the intentions of the course is to give students an opportunity to develop cross-chronological interests and to discern continuities, parallels, and differences between past and present political cultures. This type of comparative work will be encouraged in course presentations and submitted written work.

Class conducted in English.

Course syllabus and bibliography.

ITAL-GA 2312 Paradiso

Maria Luisa Ardizzone
Tuesday 3:30-6:10PM
Class#: 23919

A rereading of Dante’s Paradiso that focuses on the interaction between the medieval mystical- theological culture and  the encyclopedia of secular learning as it takes place in the Commedia.  Dante utilizes the philosophical and scientific knowledge of his time, but relives it in light of the evangelical message. A text of the Christian "paideia" par excellence, Paradiso, is also an extraordinary modern work.  Organized on the patrimony of values formulated by western monastic culture, by the Christian ascetic practice of the desert, the Paradiso is a journey towards awareness, in which knowledge implies the mystical rediscovery of the self.

All these themes will be investigated in the course along with the central issue of the Commedia as a discourse about the "other world" which implies the unveiling of the meaning of "this world". Dante’s Paradise will be read in light of Dante’s minor works. The requirements of the course are active class participation, a mid-semester oral presentation, and a final paper 20-25 pages in length. 

Class conducted in Italian.

ITAL-GA 2020 Topics in History: Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy: Comparisons, Contrasts, Collaborations

Ruth Ben-Ghiat and Stephen Gross (History)
Tuesday 10am-12:30PM

Class conducted in English.

ITAL-GA 3030 Research Preparation in Italian Studies

Rebecca Falkoff and David Forgacs
Wednesday 3:30-6:10PM

More information regarding this new course will be coming out in November.

Class conducted in English.

ITAL-GA 2891 Guided Individual Reading

(to enroll contact the Department Administrator after obtaining permission from the DGS)
Class#: 4805