Italian culture is unique in the extent to which it affects other European and non- European cultures: the Venetians in overseas trade and the Byzantine Empire; Savoy with France; Trieste, Venice, and Milan with the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Sicily with Normandy, Greece, Spain, and the Islamic world. Contemporary aspects of German and Eastern European history—fascism and the Balkans are obvious examples—cannot be considered in isolation from Italian history. At the core of the Italian Studies Program lies acquisition of fluency in reading, writing, and translating the Italian language. This is accomplished through courses during the academic year or through an intensive Italian language class, which includes a month of study in Florence, Italy, during the January intersession. The student selects an area of specialization and plans, in collaboration with a faculty adviser and other program faculty members, an individual, multidisciplinary curriculum.
Before Moderation a student is expected to take three semesters (or the equivalent) of Italian language courses and two other courses focusing on some aspect of Italian culture. A student moderates into Italian studies by presenting to the Moderation board the customary two papers outlining both past academic achievements and a proposed program of study for the next two years. The Moderation board is composed of members of the core faculty and other faculty determined by the student’s particular interests and area of specialization. A student must present evidence of proficiency in the Italian language and demonstrate in some form (for example, a representative essay, performances, tapes, artworks) the ability to collect and integrate material with the skills needed to undertake and complete a significant Senior Project.
One two-semester course in the student’s final year is devoted to the Senior Project, a major work demonstrating the student’s mastery of some aspect of the Italian language and culture. The project is not limited to a written study, but may be a film, photographic essay, or another form appropriate to the topic. In addition to the Senior Project, a student must take five elective courses in Italian studies.