Bard College Catalogue

The Bard College Catalogue contains detailed descriptions of the College's undergraduate programs and courses, curriculum, admission and financial aid procedures, student activities and services, history, campus facilities, affiliated institutions including graduate programs, and faculty and administration.

Bard College Catalogue 2017-18

Bard College Catalogue 2017-18

Italian Studies


Franco Baldasso (director), Mary Caponegro, Diana H. DePardo-Minsky, Peter Laki, Rufus Müller, Karen Sullivan


The present and past artistic, poetic, and cultural achievements of Italian civilization passionately engage with the major questions of today’s world. Italy boasts the largest number of UNESCO sites on the World Heritage list, including many examples of Roman, Greek, and medieval architecture; as well as the stunning accomplishments of the Renaissance and the international charm of its cinema. Additionally, its history of migration and even its controversial modern politics contribute to the allure of a civilta that is not only the cradle of Western civilization  but also a critical place of encounter for cultures, people, and ideas. And because of its location in the heart of the Mediterranean, Italy plays a key role in the challenging negotiations between Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

At the core of the 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 Taormina, Italy, in June. 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 (e.g., 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.

Recent Senior Projects in Italian Studies

  • “Eclipsing Narrative: The Function of Formal Alienation in Antonioni’s Trilogy”
  • “Papal Princesses,” an analysis of the roles played by two daughters of popes within the papal court and how those roles are reflected in art commissioned by their fathers
  • “Vita and the Waterboy: A Translation and Analysis of Melania G. Mazzucco’s Vita