Italian Studies

Spring 2023 Courses

Please Note: Preliminary Schedule Only-Subject to Change

ROIT 63011-01 - Introduction to Advanced Studies in Italian

Italian Studies faculty

A two-semester course, meeting one hour a week, co-taught by all the Italian T&R faculty. The course will ensure a solid foundation in the precise analysis of literary texts and other cultural artifacts in the context of Italian Studies, including a survey of metrics, rhetorical figures, narrativev techniques, and film analysis. It will also provide an introduction to key terms and forms of critical and literary theory, and develop the skills necessary to pursue advanced independent research projects, including familiarity with bibliographic resources and research methods. During the course of the year, students will also review a university-level manual/anthology of Italian literature. Required in their first year of all Master’s and Doctoral candidates specializing in Italian. Passing the final exam of this course is a prerequisite for continuing studies in Italian.

ROIT 63160-01 – The Hermeneutics of the Book: Copying, Printing, Circulating Literature in Medieval and Renaissance Italy

Laura Banella

The course explores the book as a textual object, and the ever-changing and dynamic relationship between the literary work and its material form. Students will investigate how literary texts engaged and challenged the book form and, in turn, the ways in which the material form shaped their transmission and interpretation. Case-studies will include authors who actively made their works one with the book (e.g., Rabanus Maurus, Petrarch, Boccaccio), texts whose circulation shaped literary history (e.g., Dante’s Commedia, Shakespeare’s plays), anthologies, Sammelbands, artists’ books, visual poetry, readers’ responses (e.g., Tasso’s annotations on Dante, or Renaissance readers of Chaucer), along with a selection of fictional and critical writings engaging the book as a cultural symbol and a literary device. Students will have the opportunity to engage hands-on with Hesburgh Libraries’ Special Collections, and to explore languages and periods other than the course’s main focus.

ROIT 63650-01 – Criticism and Theory South of the Alps: 1870-1965

Ryan Pepin

The canon of literary criticism and theory that emerged in the twentieth century, especially as it is taught today in US Humanities departments, is almost entirely Northern European in character. As a result, there is a history missing from our current history of lit crit: that of a southern golden age –really golden ages – in inter- and post-war Italy. This is a history with a very different institutional shape: where a great instauration swept postwar France, together with new voices (Sartre, Blanchot, Barthes) and university disciplines (lettres modernes), giving shape to the ‘theory’ we know today, in Italy, periods of great creative ferment bore (sometimes hostile) continuity with their inter- and pre-war precedents. In this course, we will discover one of the richest literary-interpretive
traditions of the last century. We will take off from the intersecting innovations of the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth - the quarrels of idealists and historicists (from De Sanctis and Croce to Serra and Russo), and the appearance of the New Philology (from Barbi to Pasquali to Contini). We will look at the fire traded between the great journals of the period, fascist-, Church-, and left- aligned, and the emergence of ‘hermeticism’. The capstone of our journey will survey the atypical Italian absorption of wider European critical trends: stylistics, semiotics, structuralism. We will not limit ourselves to reading this intellectual history: together, in seminars, we will learn how to apply these critical approaches through close reading exercises.

ROIT 60023-01 – Platonism and Christianity

Denis Robichaud

The Corpus Dionysiacum is a pillar of Medieval Christian theology, philosophy, and mysticism. Its author was veneraged as St Denis, as Dionysius the Areopagite (i.e., Paul of Tarsus’s convert on the Areopagus mentioned in Acts 17:34), and according to various accounts as the first bishop of Athens, Corinth, or Paris. The fifteenth century was a period of intense work on the CD. New Greek to Latin translations of the CD were produced (Traversari and Ficino). New commentaries were written (Denys the Carthusian and Ficino). Philologists (Valla, Gaza, and later Erasmus) called into question Dionysius’s apostolicity by demonstrating that the CD was a late ancient pseudepigraphic work. Some scholars (Bessarion, Balbi, Denys the Carthusian, Cusanus, and Ficino) began to explore its Platonism while others argued against this approach (George of Trebizond, Traversari, Pico, and later Lefèvre and Clichtove). Modern scholars now acknowledge the dependence of the CD on the Athenian philosophical school of Platonism (most notably on Proclus and Damascius), but already in the fifteenth-century, Marsilio Ficino (the first person to translate all of Plato and Plotinus into Latin) carefully argued that the best way to understand the CD is within late ancient philosophical traditions of Platonism. This seminar will examine Ficino’s commentaries on the CD (the Mystical Theology and On Divine Names) and discuss its context and sources. No prerequisites are required for the course, but familiarity with ancient and medieval philosophy would be useful. Students will be invited to read Latin texts but no specific level of Latin is required. The course will be designed to allow students to work with their level of Latin, whatever it might be. No knowledge of Greek is required nor of other modern languages (e.g., Italian, French, German) but some linguistic training in these languages would be beneficial. The course plans to include visits to ND’s rare books and special collections.



Graduate Seminars

The Graduate Program in Italian offers a wide array of seminars on topics of literature and culture, covering a chronological span from the medieval to the contemporary period and encompassing a variety of disciplinary approaches and methodologies, from cultural history to new philology, from cartography to philosophy and literature. Here below is a sample of graduate courses that the Italian faculty teaches on a regular basis.

ROIT 63090 – History of Italian Language 

T. Cachey

An advanced introduction to the history of the Italian language from Le origini to the High Renaissance with special emphasis on Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio during the medieval period and Bembo, Castiglione, and Machiavelli for the Renaissance.

ROIT 63113 – Dante’s World of Books

First, the course provides an overview of all Dante’s writings, the books he actually produced. Second, it explores his intellectual formation and his attitude towards the literary tradition—the books that were probably present in his ‘library’. Third, it explores the manner in which Dante synthesized his different ideological and poetic interests in order to develop an incisive and powerful assessment and critique of humanity’s position in the order of divine creation, or “God’s book”. The course thus attempts to investigate the complex inter-relationship that Dante forged between his books and the ‘book’ of God the Creator.

ROIT 63540 – Italian Renaissance Theatre: Origins through Commedia Dell’Arte

The course traces the development of theatre in Italy from its medieval origins through the European-wide phenomenon of the Commedia dell’Arte, focusing in particular on humanistic and Renaissance comedies (including Ariosto, Bibbiena, Machiavelli, Caro, Bruni, Aretino, and Ruzante), but we also discuss tragedies and pastoral dramas, Renaissance dramatic theory, theatre design, set design, costuming, and staging, using documents from the time.

ROIT 63610 – Novels of Revolutionary Italy: Fictions of History 

The course examines the relationship between history, fiction, and nation-making in Italy through the study of novels written between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. We also study shorter prose works and selections from key works of narrative theory. The course concludes with a foray into the 20th century. Authors include Vico, Cuoco, Foscolo, Manzoni, Nievo, and Tomasi di Lampedusa.

ROIT 63780 – After the Flood: Postwar Italy

C. Leavitt

This course explores the discourses of recovery, reconstruction, and redemption in postwar Italian culture. Through the analysis of Italian literature, cinema, theatre, and art, we will consider issues including the Allied occupation, the return of prisoners of war and survivors of the Holocaust, the Resistance and its mythology, and the continuity of conflict after the war. The questions we investigate include: How do you rebuild a country? How do you remake a culture, an identity, a society? What is the role of art in a moment of public reckoning and national reconstruction?

LLRO 63075 – Foreign Language Acquisition and Instruction

A. Blad

An introduction to theories of foreign language acquisition and methods of foreign language instruction related to them, including the direct, cognitive, communicative, and input (natural) approaches. 

ROIT 63010 – Introduction to Advanced Studies

This course consists of a series of lectures given by the Italian faculty in residence. It introduces students to a range of theoretical approaches and literary methods, to major questions in the field of Italian studies, to bibliographical and research methods, and to general matters of professionalization.