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Department of French and Italian

Dante and Enrico Fermi, Machiavelli and Saint Catherine of Siena, Michelangelo and Federico Fellini, Roman roads and popular fashion; Italy has been called the fountain of Western culture and the pivot around which it revolves. Italian language and literature open a door on two thousand years of history, thought, and style.

Proficiency in language and knowledge of culture are keys to careers in business and art, in teaching, engineering, and media. Northwestern offers an undergraduate major and minor in Italian. After a beginning language sequence of six quarters, students advance to a variety of courses exploring Italian culture and literature. In addition to establishing an indispensable foundation in Italian literature and thought, these courses are designed to encourage students to participate in developing their own curriculum and mapping out their own research. Students completing the major in Italian will have language proficiency and be skilled in textual analysis, independent research, and critical writing.

The Italian Program has particular strength in the field of Visual Culture. With courses in both English and Italian, our curriculum centers especially on the tradition and problems of visual communication from the Renaissance to contemporary media. Courses in English offer undergraduate students the opportunity to explore, for example, Michelangelo, cinema, art history, theater, and the representation of gender and sexuality from the Middle Ages to the present day. Courses in Italian offer seminar courses for advanced undergraduates on specific topics related to visuality and representation, as well as literature and history. Please peruse the course list and refer to our faculty pages to discover the research interests and courses of the Italian faculty: Prof. Alessia Ricciardi, Prof. Marco Ruffini, Prof. Domietta Torlasco, and Lecturer Thomas Simpson.

Courses in related fields may contribute toward requirements for the major. Many Italian majors are double majors in fields as diverse as music, history, and cinema, and many create independent study programs joining Italian with their other interests.

The Italian program also puts special emphasis on Study Abroad programs, including the BU Padua Language & Liberal Arts Program, BCSP Bologna Program, Arcadia Lecce, and SU Abroad Florence, as well as programs specifically tailored to students of Economics, Music, and Classics.