Italian and Italian Studies Major and Minor (Bryn Mawr)

Based on an interdisciplinary approach that views culture as a global phenomenon, the aims of the major in Italian Studies are to acquire a knowledge of Italian language, literature, and culture, including cinema, art, journalism, pop culture, and music. The Department of Italian Studies also cooperates with the Departments of French and Spanish in the Romance Languages major and with the other foreign languages in the Tri-Co for a major in Comparative Literature. The Italian Department cooperates with Africana Studies, History of Art,  International Studies, History of Art, and Growth and Structure of Cities.

Curriculum & Courses

  • Major Requirements

    Italian Language/Literature (ILL) and Italian Cultural Studies (ICS) Major

    The Italian Language/Literature major and the Italian Cultural Studies major consists of ten courses starting at the ITAL B101/ITAL B102 level, or an equivalent two-semester sequence taken elsewhere. The department offers a two-track system as guidelines for completing the major in Italian or in Italian Studies. Both tracks require ten courses, including ITAL B101/ITAL B102. For students in either Track A or B we recommend a senior experience offered with ITAL B398 and ITAL B399, courses that are required for honors. Students may complete either track. Recommendations are included below —models of different pathways through the major.

    Majors are required to complete one Writing Intensive (WI) course in the major. The WI courses will prepare students towards their senior project and to competent and appropriate writing, manly in three ways:

    1. Teach the writing process—planning, drafting, revising, and editing;
    2. Emphasize the role of writing by allocating a substantial portion of the final grade to writing assignments;
    3. Offer students the opportunity to receive feedback from professors and peers (through class peer review sessions).

    In responding to the feedback, students will experience writing as a process of discovery (re-visioning) and meaning. The goal of the new WI course will be to get students to re-think the argument, logical connection, focus, transition, evidence, quotes, organization, and sources.

    ILL Major/ Track A

    Major requirements in ILL are 10 courses. Track A may be appropriate for students with an interest in literary and language studies.

    Required: ITAL B101/ITAL B102, plus six courses (or more) conducted in Italian and two selected from among a list of approved ICS courses in English that may be taken in either within the department or in various other disciplines offered at the College (i.e. History, History of Art, English, Visual Art and Film Studies, Philosophy, Comparative Literature, Cities, Archaeology, Classics). Adjustments will be made for students taking courses abroad. Of the courses taken in Italian, students are expected to enroll in the following areas: Dante (ITAL B301), Renaissance (ITAL B304 or ITAL B302), Survey (ITAL B307), and two courses on Modern Italian literature (ITAL B380, ITAL B310, ITAL B320, ITAL B306)

    ICS/Track B

    Major requirements in ICS are 10 courses. Track B may be appropriate for students with an interest in cultural and interdisciplinary studies. The concentration is open to all majors and consists of both interdisciplinary and single-discipline courses drawn from various academic departments at the college.

    Required: ITAL B101/ITAL B102, plus three courses conducted in Italian and four related courses in English that may be taken either within the department or in allied-related fields in various disciplines throughout the college, or courses taken on BMC approved study-abroad programs, such as: History, History of Art, Visual Art, and Film Studies, Comparative Literature, Cities, Classics.

    Faculty in other programs may be willing to arrange work within courses that may count for the major. Courses must be approved in advance by the Chair of the Italian Studies Department.

    Major with Honors

    Students may apply to complete the major with honors. The honors component requires the completion of a year-long thesis advised by a faculty member in the department. Students enroll in the senior year in ITAL B398 and ITAL B399. Application to it requires a GPA in the major of 3.7 or higher, as well as a written statement, to be submitted by the fall of senior year, outlining the proposed project (see further below) and indicating the faculty member who has agreed to serve as advisor. The full departmental faculty vets the proposals and at the end of the senior year will decide if honors will be given.


    Students will write a 30-35 page thesis that aims to engage with primary texts and relevant secondary literature. By the end of the fall semester, students must have completed a formal proposal and a Table of Content in draft. Proposals for the thesis should describe the questions being asked in the research, and how answers to them will contribute to scholarship. Students must include a discussion of the primary sources on which the research will rest, as well as a preliminary bibliography of relevant secondary studies. They also must include a rough timetable indicating in what stages the work will be completed. It is expected that before submitting their proposals students will have conferred with a faculty member who has agreed to serve as advisor. In December students will formally present the proposal to the department. In April students will give an oral presentation of their work of approximately one hour to faculty members and interested students. The final draft is due on or around April 28th of the senior year and will be graded by two faculty members (one of whom is the advisor). Faculty will retain the option to assign final honors to the research project.

    University of Pennsylvania

    Students majoring at BMC cannot earn more than two credits at the University of Pennsylvania in Italian.

  • Minor Requirements

    Requirements for the minor in Italian Studies are ITAL B101, ITAL B102 and four additional units including two at the 200 level one of which in literature and one of which in Italian and two at the 300 level one of which in literature and one of which in Italian. With departmental approval, students who begin their work in Italian at the 200 level will be exempted from ITAL B101 and B102. For courses in translation, the same conditions for majors apply.

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