Director of undergraduate studies: Simona Lorenzini, 82-90 Wall St., 432-0508; language program director: Anna Iacovella, 82–90 Wall St., 432-8299;

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 ITAL 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 department 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 director of undergraduate studies (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 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 Academic Regulations, section K, Special Arrangements,"Simultaneous Award of the Bachelor's and Master's Degrees." 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 Academic Regulations, section K, Special Arrangements, "Year or Term Abroad."


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 of College, on the department 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.

Certificate of Advanced Language Study

The Italian Department offers a Certificate of Advanced Language Study in Italian. A certificate adviser, typically the director of undergraduate studies (DUS), advises students on the certification process and certifies to the University Registrar's Office that students have completed the stated requirements before the end of eight terms of study. The Certificate of Advanced Language Study, once certified, is listed on student transcripts. 


Students seeking to earn the certificate are required to take four courses beyond the L4 level in their chosen language, at least two of which must be Yale courses designated as L5. All courses must be taken for a letter grade, and students must achieve a grade of B or above. With the approval of the certificate adviser, one advanced non-L5 course, conducted in the target language, such as an independent study course, a graduate seminar, or an advanced seminar may count toward certification requirements.

The certificate adviser may allow one “language across the curriculum” (LxC) course, which ordinarily is an advanced seminar with an additional weekly discussion section in the target language, to count toward the certification requirements. The adviser may also approve the substitution of up to two credits earned during study abroad and taught in the target language to count toward the certificate requirements. If the adviser approves courses taken outside of Yale for inclusion in the certificate requirements, students must take the necessary steps to ensure those courses appear on their transcript.

Credit/D/Fail No courses taken Credit/D/Fail may be counted toward the requirements of the certificate.


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

Assistant Professor Christiana Purdy Moudarres

Senior Lectors Michael Farina, Anna Iacovella

Lector Simona Lorenzini

Postdoctoral Associate Serena Bassi

Affiliated Faculty Paola Bertucci, (History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health), Howard Bloch (French), Jessica Brantley (English), Roberto González Echevarría (Spanish & Portuguese), Harvey Goldblatt (Slavic), Virginia Jewiss (Humanities), Jacqueline Jung (History of Art), Gundula Kreuzer (Music), Ivan Marcus (History and Religious Studies), David Quint (English and Comparative Literature), Ayesha Ramachandran (Comparative Literature), Ellen Rosand (Music), Pierre Saint-Amand(French), Gary Tomlinson (Music)

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-11:15am

* 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 ConversationJulia Pucci

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
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

* ITAL 151b, Advanced Italian Workshop: Reading, Writing, and TranslatingSandro-Angelo De Thomasis

Our journey begins in the early 90s, in the wake of the fall of the “First Republic” (1948-1993). We read avant-garde and experimental poetry from the edgy “Gruppo ’93” and move forward until today, listening and deciphering hip-hop artists such as Mahmood and Amir Issaa. After the euphoria of the late 80s, a sober realism—and surrealism—takes hold of the collective Italian psyche in the 90s with the arrival of Berlusconi into the field of politics, the shift of Italy to an immigrating rather than emigrating country, and much more. The poetry and critical texts covered in this class serve to map out the social, political, and cultural landscape of Italy during this accelerated period of transition.  L5
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

* ITAL 162a, Introduction to Italian Literature: From the Duecento to the RenaissanceSimona Lorenzini

This is the first course in a sequence studying Italian Literature. The course aims to provide an introduction and a broad overview of Italian literature and culture from the Duecento to the Renaissance, specifically focusing on authors such as Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Ariosto, and literary and artistic movements such as Humanism and Renaissance. These authors and their masterpieces are introduced through readings, works of art, listening materials, videos, and films. Great space is left for in-class discussion and suggestions from students who may take an interest in specific authors or subjects. This course is interactive and open, and the authors mentioned here are only indicative of the path that we follow. At the end of the course, students are able to analyze and critique literary works of different genres and time periods. The course is conducted in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 140 or equivalent.  L5, HU
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

* ITAL 172b, Introduction to Italian Literature: From the Baroque to the PresentSimona Lorenzini

This course is the second course in a sequence studying Italian Literature. This course introduces students to the masterpieces of Italian literature, in prose and poetry, from the Baroque to the 21st century. We closely read sample writings representative of the most important authors and literary movements, including Galileo, Manzoni, Pirandello, and Ferrante, and the ways in which they encompassed science, medicine, culture, law, gender. Through critical readings, textual analysis, and class discussions, students appreciate the intellectual and artistic traditions that shaped the birth of the Italian nation. Texts and authors are examined in their historical, social, and cultural context. The course is conducted in Italian. Students are required to take notes during the lectures and learn new vocabulary specific to the topic studied. Prerequisite: ITAL 140 or equivalent.  L5, HU
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

* ITAL 185a, Italian History from 1945Serena Bassi

An examination of the major events in Italian history from 1945 to the present. Advanced grammar, writing, and speaking explored in the context of Italian history. Topics include World War II, the founding of the Italian Republic, postwar reconstruction, the major political parties, the protest movements of 1968, the collapse of the Left, and the rise of the Northern League and Berlusconi. Consideration also given to immigration, the environment, and cultural issues.  L5, HU
MW 1pm-2:15pm

* ITAL 470a and ITAL 471a, Special Studies in Italian LiteratureSimona Lorenzini

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

* ITAL 491a, The Senior EssaySimona Lorenzini

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 310a / HUMS 180a / LITR 183a, Dante in TranslationGiuseppe Mazzotta

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 11:35am-12:50pm

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 367a / LITR 327a / RLST 346a, Saying Goodbye: Meditations on Art, Death and Afterlives, the Bible through Shakespeare and Sor JuanJane Tylus

How do we take leave of the people, places, and work that we love? Our course objectives are to strive to understand the important role that leavetakings play in life and artistic expression, especially between 1300-1700; to probe the differences between religious faiths of early modernity with respect to rituals of saying goodbye and the afterlife; to sharpen our skills as readers, spectators, and listeners of works that engage with complex questions regarding the meaning of life and one’s lifework; and to contextualize our readings within more contemporary conversations by theologians and theorists about dying, grief, and letting go. We also examines rites of passage and departure, even as our main focus is figures such as Dante, Michelangelo, Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, whose differing faiths during a period of religious crisis produced various kinds of finished—and unfinished—works. Our class is held in the Beinecke library, where we regularly consult first editions and in some cases (Donne’s letters and poems) autograph copies, as well as evaluate the material evidence for ways that manuscripts and books reveal how authors parted with their works (dedications, envois), and how readers comment on their own encounters with leavetakings.  WR, HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm