Director of undergraduate studies: Christiana Purdy Moudarres, 82–90 Wall St., 432-0597, christiana purdymoudarres; language program director: Anna Iacovella, 82–90 Wall St., 432-8299, anna iacovella;

The major in Italian explores Italy's vital role in the formation of Western thought and culture. The core language courses bring students to a high level of aural, spoken, and written proficiency; provide a solid literary and historical background in the language; and prepare students for study in Italy. Other offerings build on the core courses to explore Italian literature, film, history, culture, and art. The Italian major is of particular relevance to the fields of art, economics, film and media studies, history, history of art, international relations, linguistics, literature, philosophy, and theology.


Candidates for the major should have completed a course in Italian at the level of 130 (L3) or should have received credit for equivalent work by the end of their sophomore year. Exceptions may be made in the case of outstanding students who have not satisfied this requirement.

Placement Procedures

All students who have not taken Italian at Yale are expected to take the departmental placement test, with the exception of students who have no previous knowledge of Italian. The placement examination is completed online during the summer; see the Calendar for the Opening Days of College and the departmental website for details.

Requirements of the Major 

The major normally consists of eleven term courses beyond the prerequisite. Eight term courses in the Italian department numbered 140 or above (including graduate courses) are required, at least five of which must be conducted in Italian. The courses in the department must include either ITAL 150 or 151 and a course on Dante's Divine Comedy (ITAL 310 or equivalent), as well as four courses covering different periods in Italian literature: one in the Middle Ages (in addition to the course on Dante's Divine Comedy), one in the Renaissance, and two in Italian literature after 1600. The aim of these six foundation courses is to provide students with both a broad acquaintance with the major works of Italy's literary tradition and a more detailed knowledge of specific periods in Italian literature. Students are also strongly encouraged to use their elective courses to expand their knowledge of either the Trecento (fourteenth century) or the Cinquecento (sixteenth century). No more than three Italian department courses taught in English may count toward the major. Students intending to major in Italian should consult the DUS.

In completing their programs, students are required to elect two courses in other languages and literatures, history of art, history, or philosophy that are related to their field of study and approved by the DUS. Any graduate course in another national literature or in linguistics may be substituted for one of these two courses. Some knowledge of Latin is desirable.

Senior Requirement 

In the fall or spring of the senior year, all students majoring in Italian must present a departmental essay written in Italian and completed under the direction of a faculty adviser in ITAL 491. The essay should demonstrate careful reading and research on a topic approved by the adviser in consultation with the DUS. A recommended length for the essay is thirty pages. Prospectus and draft deadlines are determined by the adviser; the final deadline is determined by the DUS. The senior requirement culminates in a meeting with department faculty to discuss the thesis and the student's overall experience of study in the major.


The department's course offerings vary greatly from year to year. Students interested in planning course work in Italian that extends beyond the current academic year should consult the DUS.

Related majors In addition to the major in Italian literature, the department supports the applications of qualified students who wish to pursue a course in Italian studies under the provisions of a Special Divisional Major. Majors can devise a broad program in social, political, economic, or intellectual history as related to and reflected in Italian literature, or pursue special interests in architecture, film, art, philosophy, music, history, linguistics, theater, political theory, or other fields especially well suited for examination from the perspective of Italian cultural history. Majors in Italian studies must design their programs in close consultation with the DUS and seek the guidance of an additional member of the department whose interests closely coincide with the proposed program of study. For further information, see under Special Divisional Majors.

Combined B.A./M.A. degree program Exceptionally able and well-prepared students may complete a course of study leading to the simultaneous award of the B.A. and M.A. degrees after eight terms of enrollment. See "Simultaneous Award of the Bachelor's and Master's Degrees" under Special Arrangements in the Academic Regulations. Interested students should consult the DUS prior to the sixth term of enrollment for specific requirements in Italian.

Study Abroad

For information about the Year or Term Abroad program, see under Special Arrangements in the Academic Regulations.


Prerequisite ITAL 130 or equivalent

Number of courses 11 term courses beyond prereq (incl senior req)

Specific courses requiredITAL 150 or 151; ITAL 310 or equivalent

Distribution of courses 8 term courses in Italian dept numbered 140 or above, incl 1 in Middle Ages (in addition to ITAL 310), 1 in Renaissance, and 2 in Italian lit after 1600, at least 5 of these conducted in Italian; 2 courses in other langs or lits, hist of art, hist, or phil approved by DUS

Substitution permitted Any grad course in another national lit or in linguistics for 1 of the 2 courses in other depts, with DUS permission

Senior requirement Senior essay (ITAL 491) and oral interview

The major in Italian explores Italy’s vital role in the formation of Western thought and culture. The core language courses bring students to a high level of proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension skills; provide a solid literary and historical background in the language; and prepare students for study in Italy. Other offerings build on the core courses to explore Italian literature, film, history, culture, and art. The Italian major is of particular relevance to the fields of art, art history, economics, film studies, history, international relations, linguistics, literature, philosophy, and theology.

Students who would like to study Italian thought and culture before acquiring linguistic proficiency may take upper-level courses conducted in English. Comparative and interdepartmental courses are also offered.

Combined B.A./M.A. Program in Italian

Yale College allows Italian majors to complete the Italian B.A. and M.A. degrees simultaneously in four years, provided the student meets certain requirements. Admission to the program is limited, and students should apply through the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) no later than the last day of classes in their fifth term of enrollment in Yale College.


The placement examination in Italian will be offered online prior to the start of the fall term. Students who have studied Italian in high school, taken the AP Italian test, or completed course work in Italy are advised to take the placement test. Details will be published in the Calendar for the Opening Days, on the departmental Website, and on the Center for Language Study Website.

The core courses are:

Candidates for the major must complete a course in Italian at the level of ITAL 130 (L3) or receive credit for equivalent work by the end of their sophomore year.


Professors Millicent Marcus (Chair), Giuseppe Mazzotta, Jane Tylus

Assistant Professor Christiana Purdy Moudarres

Senior Lectors Michael Farina, Anna Iacovella

Lector Simona Lorenzini

Lecturer Serena Bassi

Affiliated Faculty Roberto González Echevarría (Spanish & Portuguese), Gundula Kreuzer (Music), Alastair Minnis (English), Frank Snowden (History), Gary Tomlinson (Music, Humanities), Francesca Trivellato (History)

Group A Courses

* ITAL 110a, Elementary Italian IStaff

A beginning course with extensive practice in speaking, reading, writing, and listening and a thorough introduction to Italian grammar. Activities include group and pairs work, role-playing, and conversation. Introduction to Italian culture through readings and films. Conducted in Italian.  L11½ Course cr

* ITAL 120b, Elementary Italian IIStaff

Continuation of ITAL 110.  L21½ Course cr

* ITAL 125b, Intensive Elementary ItalianMichael Farina

An accelerated beginning course in Italian that covers in one term the material taught in ITAL 110 and 120. Admits to ITAL 130 or 145. Enrollment limited to 15.  L1, L22 Course cr
MTWThF 9:25am-11:20am

* ITAL 130a, Intermediate Italian IStaff

The first half of a two-term sequence designed to increase students' proficiency in the four language skills and advanced grammar concepts. Authentic readings paired with contemporary films. In-class group and pairs activities, role-playing, and conversation. Admits to ITAL 140. Conducted in Italian. ITAL 120 or equivalent.  L31½ Course cr

* ITAL 140b, Intermediate Italian IIStaff

Continuation of ITAL 130. Emphasis on advanced discussion of Italian culture through authentic readings (short stories, poetry, and comic theater) and contemporary films. Admits to Group B courses. Conducted in Italian.  L41½ Course cr

Group B Courses

Group B courses have readings in Italian and are usually conducted in Italian. They are open to students who have passed ITAL 140 or 145 and to others with the consent of the director of undergraduate studies and the instructor.

ITAL 150a, Advanced Composition and ConversationAnna Marra

Discussion of social, political, and literary issues in order to improve active command of the language. Development of advanced reading skills through magazine and newspaper articles, essays, short stories, films, and a novel; enhancement of writing skills through experiments with reviews, essays, creative writing, and business and informal Italian. Classroom emphasis on advanced speaking skills and vocabulary building.  L5
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

* ITAL 151b, Advanced Italian Workshop: Reading, Writing, and TranslatingMegan Crognale

This workshop examines the intersection of translation and hermeneutics through praxis. Development of advanced writing and speaking skills. Individual and group work in translation, interpretation, and performance of short texts. Genres include the novella, opera, and film—with emphasis on the creation of a new translation for an opera being performed at Yale. Meaningful practice of creative writing and translation.  L5
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

* ITAL 159a, History and Culture of NaplesAnna Iacovella

Historical phenomena and literary and cultural movements that have shaped the city of Naples, Italy, from antiquity to the present. The linguistic richness and diversity that characterizes Naples; political, social, and cultural change; differences between standard Italian and the Neapolitan dialect in literature, film, and everyday life.  Prerequisite: ITAL 140 or equivalent.  L5, HU
MW 1pm-2:15pm

* ITAL 470a or b and ITAL 471a or b, Special Studies in Italian LiteratureChristiana Purdy Moudarres

A series of tutorials to direct students in special interests and requirements. Students meet regularly with a faculty member.

* ITAL 491a or b, The Senior EssayChristiana Purdy Moudarres

A research essay on a subject selected by the student in consultation with the faculty adviser.

Group C Courses

Group C courses are conducted in English and are open to students without previous study of Italian. Majors in Italian are required to read the material and write their papers in Italian.

* ITAL 303b / FILM 457b / LITR 359b, Italian Film from Postwar to PostmodernMillicent Marcus

A study of important Italian films from World War II to the present. Consideration of works that typify major directors and trends. Topics include neorealism, self-reflexivity and metacinema, fascism and war, and postmodernism. Films by Fellini, Antonioni, Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, Pasolini, Bertolucci, Wertmuller, Tornatore, and Moretti. Most films in Italian with English subtitles.  WR, HU
TTh 4pm-5:15pm

* ITAL 304a / FILM 406a / LITR 367a, Literature into FilmMillicent Marcus

Strategies employed by filmmakers who adapt literary works to the screen. Detailed comparisons between cinematic adaptations and the novels, plays, and short stories on which they are based. Case studies of literary works that pose a variety of challenges to filmmakers.  HU
W 3:30pm-5:20pm, M 8pm-10pm

ITAL 310a / HUMS 180a / LITR 183a, Dante in TranslationChristiana Purdy Moudarres

A critical reading of Dante's Divine Comedy and selections from the minor works, with an attempt to place Dante's work in the intellectual and social context of the late Middle Ages by relating literature to philosophical, theological, and political concerns. No knowledge of Italian required. Course conducted in English.  HUTr
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

ITAL 315a / HIST 280a / RLST 160a, The Catholic Intellectual TraditionCarlos Eire

Introductory survey of the interaction between Catholicism and Western culture from the first century to the present, with a focus on pivotal moments and crucial developments that defined both traditions. Key beliefs, rites, and customs of the Roman Catholic Church, and the ways in which they have found expression; interaction between Catholics and the institution of the Church; Catholicism in its cultural and sociopolitical matrices. Close reading of primary sources.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:20pm

* ITAL 317b / HUMS 210b / LITR 180b / WGSS 317b, Women in the Middle AgesChristiana Purdy Moudarres

Medieval understandings of womanhood examined through analysis of writings by and/or about women, from antiquity through the Middle Ages. Introduction to the premodern Western canon and assessment of the role that women played in its construction.  HU