CORE-UA 554 Cultures and Contexts: Italy
Almost anything one might think of as typically Italian, from pasta to pizza, neorealism to Sophia Loren, Armani to the mafia, has been made or remodeled by contact and exchange with the world beyond Italy. This does not mean that they are “not really” Italian. They are, but what has made them really Italian have been circuits of international travel and trade and the accompanying processes of naming and comparison by which non-Italians have defined certain things as essentially Italian and Italians have seen themselves mirrored in those definitions, modified them, or branded and marketed themselves through them. To look at how all this works, we start with an overview of ideas of Italy from classical antiquity to the eighteenth century, moving to an analysis of travel to and within Italy, the internationalization of Italian food, drink, music, and fashion, the Futurist assault on Italy’s cultural heritage, and the Italian film and television industries in a global system. We examine how movements of people, both out of and into Italy, have involved a remaking of collective identities. Finally, we turn to international relations and changing perceptions of Italy on the world stage as a result of foreign policies, wars, and entry into the European Union. Throughout, students are invited to reflect critically on how Italy’s culture, political identity, and icons have been produced over time, and to consider how far similar process are at work in other nations, including their own.
ITAL-UA 116 Readings in Modern Italian Literature
Conducted in Italian, (Prerequisite of ITAL-UA 30 or by Department's permission)
Introductory-level literature course that, through a close reading of authors such as Alfieri, Foscolo, Leopardi, Manzoni, Verga, D'Annunzio, Moravia, and Calvino, focuses on how to understand a literary text in Italian. Covers Italian literature from the 18th century to the contemporary period.
ITAL-UA 147 Machiavelli
(same as HIST-UA 123-001, MEDI-UA 147)
Conducted in English
The inventor of modern political science, Niccolò Machiavelli is one of the most original thinkers in the history of Western civilization. In this course, Machiavelli's political, historical, and theatrical works are read in the context in which they were conceived—the much tormented and exciting Florence of the 15th and early 16th centuries, struggling between republican rule and the magnificent tyranny of the Medici family.
ITAL-UA 160 Dante and His World
(same as COLIT-UA 173, ENGL-UA 143, MEDI-UA 801)
Conducted in English
This course proposes a reading of Dante’s work from Vita nuova to the Commedia, considered in light of the theological, rhetorical, and philosophical learning of Dante’s time. Dante’s Commedia will be considered in the context of his minor works. The objective of the course is to familiarize students with one of the most significant authors of Western culture. Through Dante’s texts, students will gain a perspective on the Biblical, Christian, and Classical traditions as well as on the historical, literary, philosophical context of medieval Europe.
Attention is directed to literature, art, and music, in addition to political, religious, and social developments of the time. The course emphasizes the continuity of the Western tradition and its intellectual history, especially the classical background of medieval culture and its transmission to the modern world.
Readings include selections from Dante’s works as The New Life, The Banquet, The Divine Comedy, and The Monarchy, along with texts by St. Augustine, Severinus Boethius, Thomas Aquinas, and Boccaccio. Works of vernacular poets of 13th century and artists from Romanesque to Gothic will be considered. Texts to be read will be available as photocopies.
ITAL-UA 172 Topics: Sounds of 20th Century Italy
(same as MUSIC-UA 111-002)
Conducted in English
This course will acquaint students with a variety of sound artifacts and sound related texts, grouped around topics significant for Italy’s auditory culture between WWI and the 70s — between the early noise machines of the Futurists and the experiments of maverick singer Demetrio Stratos. Yet the focus will not be exclusively on music proper: we will examine sound in a range of manifestations and contexts — propaganda, magic-religious rituals, oral poetry, folklore, commercial sound design, soundtracks, etc. Accordingly, supporting critical readings will give students the opportunity to compare approaches on sound from different fields — sound studies, oral history, (ethno)musicology, cultural and media studies. The course will touch upon issues such as the relationship between music and other arts; the development of Italian media; the voice of Mussolini and Fascist sound politics; the discussion on technology for sound production/ consumption in Italian cultural circles; the survival of (largely non-textual) oral-aural art forms. One of the larger goals of this course is to show how sound as a common sensory framework can impact the construction of shared social experiences.
Note: No Italian is required for this course. English transcripts will be provided for sound files in Italian. Each lesson will include a listening part with sound samples and a class discussion based on required listenings/readings.
ITAL-UA 173 Topics in Italian Culture: Violence in Medieval and Early Modern Italy
(same as HIST-UA 123-002)
Conducted in English
Popular imagination envisions violence in pre-modern Italy as it appears in film and video games like Assassin’s Creed 2—an age of vendetta, factional and gang violence, brigands, and inquisition. At the same time, many legal historians trace the origins of modern law to medieval legal practice. How do we simultaneously account for the image of this period as particularly violent alongside the notion that it holds the roots of modern law and order? This course will look at the history of crime, law enforcement, and punishment during the period of 1250-1650 to begin answering that question. Topics to be covered include: the nature of violence, the overlap between religious and secular efforts at criminalization especially regarding heresy and witchcraft, extra-legal justice and vendetta, the prison and exile, artistic depictions of crime and punishment, the gendering of crime, the coincidence of criminalization with state development (that is, stateviolence), warfare, and the development of legal processes.
ITAL-UA 285 Topics in Italian Literature: Between Women: Female Friendship in Contemporary Italian Literature
(same as COLIT-UA 141)
Conducted in English. Reading knowledge of Italian is suggested but not required.
Recent years have seen the increasing popularity of the “Bechdel Test” to assess movies, television shows, and other narrative forms. Based on a 1985 drawing by Alison Bechtel, the test is composed of three points: 1) Are there at least two female characters; 2) who speak to each other; 3) about something other than a man? Given that a surprising number of narratives fail this test, it seems important to look closely at representations of friendships between women, and to consider what is at stake in such representations, and in their absence. This course will be dedicated primarily to a close reading of Elena Ferrante’s monumental Neapolitan novels, which chronicle a lifelong friendship between the narrator and her brilliant, troubled, beautiful best friend. Along with Ferrante’s enormously popular and critically acclaimed, My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Lost Child, we will read Ferrante’s 2006, The Lost Daughter, a complex portrayal of an obscure friendship, as well as novels by Maria Rosa Cutrufelli, Matilde Serao, Dacia Maraini, and Christa Wolf that thematize friendships between women. Through these readings and related critical essays by Carla Lonzi, Luisa Muraro, Adriana Cavarero, Judith Butler, and others, we will reflect on diverse theoretical approaches to literature and gender. We will ask how our interpretive approach changes when reading novels by an author—like Ferrante—whose identity remains secret? We will trace the kinship structures, social bonds, and erotic attachments that develop in these texts, and reflect on the challenges they pose to hetero-normativity, to patriarchy, and to even to rhetorical styles and narrative structures. Reading recent works of affect theory, we will consider the role of disgust, envy, optimism, and irritation, in these novels. Discussions of the cultural contexts of these novels will address Italian labor and feminist movements, the so-called Southern question, and Italian political history since 1943.
ITAL-UA 724 Italian-American Life in Literature
(same as ENGL-UA 724)
Conducted in English
A study of the fiction and poetry through which Italian American writers have expressed their heritage and their engagement in American life. From narratives of immigration to current work by "assimilated" writers, the course explores the depiction of Italian American identity. Challenging stereotypes, it explores changing family relationships, sexual mores, and political and social concerns.