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 civiltà 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.
Summer Study Abroad in Taormina, Italy
Every spring semester, the Italian Studies Program offers a beginner-level intensive language course: students can subsequently spend June at the Babilonia Italian Language School in Taormina, Sicily. At Babilonia, students take courses in Italian language and traditions while enjoying the cultural richness of Sicily; day trips and activities make for an immersive, exciting study abroad experience.
Semester Abroad at the Università di Trento
Beginning in their junior year, Bard students have the opportunity to spend either a semester or year abroad at the Università di Trento. This is a unique opportunity to sharpen language skills to an advanced level and take part in the intellectual life of a thriving European institution that attracts students from all over the world. Bard undergraduates take regular classes taught in Italian at the university along with other students; these classes count as credits at Bard. The Università di Trento offers courses in diverse fields, from sociology and poetry to art history and cinema.
Recent Senior Projects in Italian Studies
- “Eclipsing Narrative: The Function of Formal Alienation in Antonioni’s Trilogy ”
- “I Married You for Fun: A New Translation and Adaptation of Natalia Ginzburg’s Ti ho sposato per allegria”
“Primo Levi and Frantz Fanon: The Seizure of Human Dignity, Reprisal, and Thereafter”