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Italian for Undergraduates

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Introduction

Italian is the language of everything from one of the most vivid imaginings of the afterlife (Dante’s Divine Comedy) to one of the most vibrant immigrant communities in modern North America. It’s also the language of espresso and Chianti, prosciutto and ricotta. Whether you’re interested in exploring the culture responsible for this formidable culinary legacy in the world, or whether you’re curious to learn more about the rich poetic tradition that Italian’s unique musicality has made possible; whether you’re drawn to Italy’s films, its operas, its landscapes, its cities, or its saints—our Italian program has something to whet your appetite.

Determining Level of Achievement

For information about placement and testing, please visit the general placement and testing page.

If you have any question regarding the language placement tests, please contact:

Major Requirements

The major in Italian at Cornell readies students both in the language and cultural context of Italy. Students gain proficiency in speaking, writing, listening and reading in Italian and learn about Italian culture and literature across different historical periods, different media, and different regions.  Students learn to perform close readings, providing the relevant historical contexts for the most significant Italian cultural artifacts across the country’s eight-hundred-year history. Finally, students develop the ability to form critical judgments on Italian cultural works, while having learned to appreciate and evaluate cultural and literary expressions according to the varying modes of perceiving, experiencing, and understanding related to Italian culture.

Completing the major, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • Oral, aural and written proficiency in Italian.

  • Training in the centuries-long traditions of Italian literature and culture.

  • Training and familiarity with a variety of methodologies for studying literature and culture.

  • Skill in expressing themselves both in writing and orally on topics related to Italian culture and literature.

  • International and interdisciplinary exposure.

Required for the major are eight courses focusing on Italian culture including: 

  1. ITAL 2202 – Italian IV (or equivalent course);

  2.  Either ITAL 2900 – [Perspectives in Italian Culture] (or equivalent course), offered in English in Spring; OR ITAL 2204 – The Cinematic Eye of Italy (or equivalent course). Students who elect to take both of these classes may count them both toward the total of eight courses required for the major.

  3. ITAL 2203 – Languages/Literatures/Identities (or equivalent course), offered in Italian in Fall.

  4. At least five electives at the 2000-level or above from an approved list of courses offered in Romance Studies or other departments such as History, Architecture, History of Art, Government, Sociology, and so on.  At least one of these five electives must focus on a period prior to the 1800s, and no more than three of these five electives may be taken in English. We strongly urge majors to take as many of these electives as possible in Italian.

Please note that:

  • No more than three of the total of eight courses toward the major may be taken abroad or at an institution other than Cornell.

  • The minimum grade for a course to be applied toward the Italian major is B-. No courses taken for S/U grades may be applied toward the major.

  • Students majoring in Italian are encouraged to study abroad, especially at the Bologna Consortial Study Program, where linguistic as well as cultural competence is emphasized. Students enroll at the University of Bologna and can take a wide variety of courses in Italian literature and culture in fields such as history, philosophy, government, and art history.

  • Qualified students are encouraged to pursue Honors in Italian, writing and researching a thesis in close consultation with the faculty in Italian.

Minor Requirements

The Italian minor is designed to give students pursuing other majors the opportunity to engage with and reflect upon Italian literary, philosophical, and visual cultures.

Required for the minor are five courses focusing on Italian at the 2202 level and higher. 

  1. Students must take ITAL 2202 – Italian IV (or equivalent course).

  2. Students must take ITAL 2900 – [Perspectives in Italian Culture] (or equivalent course), offered in English in Spring; or ITAL 2204 – The Cinematic Eye of Italy (or equivalent course). Students who elect to take both of these classes may count them both toward the total of five classes required for the minor. Note that ITAL 2900 has no prerequisites and may be taken at any time.

  3. Students must take at least three other classes in Italian Studies. Of these at least one, but ideally more than one, must be offered in Italian (literature/culture). The three electives may be chosen from an approved list of courses offered in Romance Studies or other departments such as History, Architecture, History of Art, Government, Sociology, and so on. We strongly urge students to consider ITAL 2203 – Languages/Literatures/Identities as one of the electives.

Please note that:

  • Students may apply up to two courses from abroad or from another institution toward an Italian minor. Courses from an institution other than Cornell University may be counted toward the Italian minor, provided that 50% of the content of these courses, again, deals directly with Italian world. (Merely being taught in Italian is not, on its own, a sufficient criterion for a course taken abroad to count for the Italian minor.) Remember that you cannot apply more than two courses taken abroad to the Minor.

  • The minimum grade for a course to be applied to the Italian minor is B-.

  • S/U grades are only allowed for one of the courses applied to the Italian minor.

  • Students may declare the minor at any time.  

The Major and Minor at a Glance:

MAJOR

MINOR

EIGHT (8) courses are required

 

FIVE (5) courses are required

ITAL 2202 – Italian IV (or equivalent course)

 

ITAL 2202 – Italian IV (or equivalent course)

ITAL 2900 – Perspectives in Italian Culture Spring only (or equivalent course) OR

 

ITAL 2900 – Perspectives in Italian Culture Spring only (or equivalent course) OR

ITAL 2204 – The Cinematic Eye of Italy (or equivalent course)

 

ITAL 2204 – The Cinematic Eye of Italy (or equivalent course)

OR BOTH

 

OR BOTH

ITAL 2203 – Languages/Literatures/Identities Fall only (or equivalent course):

REQUIRED

 

ITAL 2203 – Languages/Literatures/Identities Fall only (or equivalent course): RECOMMENDED

●At least FIVE electives at the 2000-level or above from an approved list of courses offered in Romance Studies or other departments (e.g. History, Architecture, History of Art, Government, Sociology, etc).  

●At least ONE elective on a period prior to the 1800s

●At least TWO electives must be in Italian.

 

●At least THREE electives at the 2000-level or above from an approved list of courses offered in Romance Studies or other departments (e.g. History, Architecture, History of Art, Government, Sociology, etc). 

●At least ONE elective must be in Italian (students are encouraged to take more course in Italian whereas possible).

 

No more than THREE (3) of the total of eight courses toward the major may be taken abroad or at an institution other than Cornell

No more than TWO (2) of the total of five courses toward the major may be taken abroad or at an institution other than Cornell

 

The minimum grade for a course to be applied to the Italian minor is B-

The minimum grade for a course to be applied to the Italian minor is B-

 

No courses taken for S/U grades may be applied toward the Italian major

Just ONE course taken for S/U grades may be applied toward the Italian minor

 

Additional Opportunities

Italian Club at Cornell

Italian Club at Cornell is a student-led organization that aims to foster an appreciation for the Italian language and culture. The Italian Club organizes several cultural and social events each semester, such as an annual visit to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, Italian movie screenings (with English subtitles); the Club also sponsors by-weekly Coffee and Conversation hours with regional presentations by native speaker students. For further information, please contact Michela Baraldi.

Cornell Italian-American Organization (CIAO)

CIAO promotes the appreciation of Italian culture across the Cornell campus by sponsoring activities related to Italian music, language, history, literature, film, and food. Participating in CIAO-related activities gives students, particularly Italian-Americans, a chance to learn more about Italy, its culture, and their heritage. For further information, please contact K. E. von Wittelsbach.

Course Descriptions

Please refer to the Italian section of the Romance Studies Course Offerings list. See our departmental course roster here.

There are many opportunities to learn about Italy and its culture also through the First-Year Writing Seminars (FWS) offered through the Italian program by the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines. While these seminars are primarily geared to teach how to think and write rigorously, their topics explore themes and texts that introduce students to the richness of Italian culture. The Italian program regularly offers seminars on Dante and Boccaccio, Jewish-Italian literature, modern women writers, Italian cities in literature, and Italian cinema.

Here is a link to browse brochures (in PDF format) of past FWS offerings (all seminars sponsored by the Romance Studies Department start with the abbreviation ROMS):

http://knight.as.cornell.edu/past-fws-offerings

Study Abroad

For inquiries about study abroad programs, please visit this page.

Further information: