Italian Studies

Program Description

Learning Italian is an integral part of the liberal arts experience. It enriches one's capacity to think, empowers one to write more effectively, and solidifies one's understanding of language systems. As an undergraduate discipline, Italian Studies further opens the door to a country rich in art, music, literature, history, and cinematography.

The Italian Studies program at Gettysburg College offers beginning and intermediate language learning, complemented by courses in Italian cinema and culture taught in English. Instructors provide dynamic, grammar-based oral activities that aim at communicative proficiency. Students master both passive (reading and comprehension) and active (speaking and writing) skills. Throughout this process, students are exposed to Italian film, web sites, contemporary events, music, and lifestyle. Study-abroad opportunities exist at all levels.

Study Abroad
The study abroad program in Italian language, in cooperation with Syracuse University, gives students at all levels of Italian the opportunity to spend the fall semester in Florence, Italy. Students who have completed Italian 102 or 202 at Gettysburg, as well as students who wish to minor in Italian, may take Italian language classes along with courses in Italian literature and culture in English. Both credits and grades from the program will be transferred, and financial aid may be applied to participation.

Program Requirements

Major Requirements

Twelve (12) courses with the following distribution:

  • ITAL 201 and ITAL 202
  • Five (5) courses at the 300 level taught in Italian
  • Five (5) courses at the 200-400 level taught in English.
    *With the approval of the chair, one (1) of these five (5) courses may include a First Year Seminar with an Italian theme.
    *With the approval of the chair, two (2) of these five (5) courses may include courses with other departments taken in English at or above the 200 level that have an Italian theme.

Note: If a first-year or transfer student places into the 300 level upon admittance to Gettysburg College, the requirement for ITAL 201 and ITAL 202  above will be waved, and the student will need only ten (10) courses, outlined above, to obtain the Italian Studies Major.

Majors must take at least one 300 level course in Italian each semester beginning no later than their Junior year if they have not qualified to do so already. If a student completes an intensive combined 201 and 202 course abroad in the first semester of the sophomore year, he or she may take a 300 level course in the second semester of the sophomore year.

Majors must study at least one (1) semester in Italy prior to the Senior year. The Program will allow a maximum of three (3) courses from this study abroad experience to count toward the Italian Studies Major.

Three (3) courses at the 300 level taught in Italian and three (3) courses at the 200-400 level taught in English with an Italian theme must be taken at Gettysburg College. The Chair will specifically approve courses at this level taught by other faculty members outside of the department. All courses taken through Syracuse University in Florence and Arcadia University in Perugia at these levels automatically qualify.

Majors in their Senior year will do extra work in 300 level courses regardless of whether or not a particular course is a capstone. The capstone course may be offered either in the fall or spring semester in a 300 level course taught in Italian.

Minor Requirements

The minor in Italian Studies consists of six core and elective courses. Students take two or three core courses chosen from Italian 301, 302, 303, and 304. Italian 202 may be included if a student begins study of college Italian at this level or lower. In addition, three or four electives are required. These may be chosen from classes offered within the Italian section (Italian 222, 250, 251, 260, 270, 280, 285, and 290) or in other departments (for instance, IDS 248, VAH 303 and 306)

No more than two courses taken abroad may count toward the minor. Courses with an Italian theme offered by other departments at Gettysburg (other than the ones listed above) may count toward electives with the approval of the department chair.

Course Listing

Course level:
100 | 200 | 300 | 400
ITAL-101 Elementary Italian
Fundamentals of Italian grammar, composition, pronunciation. Emphasis on oral comprehension, verbal communication, reading, and writing. Classroom interaction stresses aural-oral method of language learning. Regular laboratory work reinforces grammar and writing skills and is required of all students. Course includes use of audio-visual materials and introduction to important aspects of Italian culture. Taught exclusively in Italian.


ITAL-102 Elementary Italian
Fundamentals of Italian grammar, composition, pronunciation. Emphasis on oral comprehension, verbal communication, reading, and writing. Classroom interaction stresses aural-oral method of language learning. Regular laboratory work reinforces grammar and writing skills and is required of all students. Course includes use of audio-visual materials and introduction to important aspects of Italian culture. Taught exclusively in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 101 or equivalent.


ITAL-190 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Graded A-F


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ITAL-201 Intermediate Italian
Review of grammar, as well as further development of speaking, reading, and writing skills. Text includes culturally authentic excerpts from Italian newspapers and magazines. Course content helps students learn about modern Italian civilization and current social problems. Regular compositions develop students' writing skills; audiovisual materials and required listening assignments improve listening and speaking abilities. Taught exclusively in Italian.


ITAL-202 Intermediate Italian
Review of grammar, as well as further development of speaking, reading, and writing skills. Text includes culturally authentic excerpts from Italian newspapers and magazines. Course content helps students learn about modern Italian civilization and current social problems. Regular compositions develop students' writing skills; audiovisual materials and required listening assignments improve listening and speaking abilities. Taught exclusively in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 201 or equivalent.


ITAL-250 Modern Italy 1860 to Present
A survey of modern Italian history taught in English. The course provides an in-depth analysis of the Risorgimento (The Italian Unification Movement), Italian immigration to America, Italy in World War I, Fascism, Italy in World War II, the Resistance, the Reconstruction, the Economic Miracle of the 1950s, the Student-Worker protests of the 1960s, Terrorism, the Second Economic Miracle of the 1980s, and the fall of the First Republic. Taught in English.


ITAL-251 Italian American Culture: Faith, Family, Food and the Moon
Interdisciplinary inquiry into the historical texts, literature and film which address the historical and sociological conditions of 19th Century Italy, the odyssey of immigration to and assimilation in the United States, and life in the ethnic neighborhood. Other topics include the mafia, forms of prejudice, and ways Italians uniquely manifested their social values in labor unions, religion and education. Taught in English.


ITAL-260 Italian Culture
Exploration of some of the most influential examples of Italian history, literature, art, music, film, and philosophy in their historical context, from the Roman period to the present, with emphasis on the 20th century. Students will come away with a familiarity of a wide range of Western culture's most celebrated accomplishments, a solid appreciation of Italian history, and an enriched ability to think critically about their own culture. Taught in English.


ITAL-270 Objects of Desire/Desiring Subjects: A Survey of Italian Women Writers of the 20th Century
A survey of some of Italy's most prominent women writers of the twentieth century in English translation. The course covers a variety of themes dealing with the existential condition of women that surface in the writers' texts. Topics such as gendered writing, feminism, violence, gender (ex)change, feminine monstrosities and motherhood are the subject of students' analyses. Taught in English. Cross-listed with WGS 270.


ITAL-275 Dante’s Fantastic Voyage: The Divine Comedy
Course on the three cantos of the Divine Comedy: Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. Students examine the life of Dante Alighieri and his times. Discussion focuses on the characters and events of this classic poem. Questions students ponder include: what happens to us after death? What does it really mean to be a good person? Why do bad things happen to good people? How far would a person go for love? Taught in English.


ITAL-280 Women and Italian Film
A study of the work of four prominent Italian women directors: Liliana Cavani, Lina Wertmuller, Francesca Archibugi and Francesca Comencini. While focusing on their depictions of social, cultural and historical issues affecting modern and contemporary Italian society, the course also analyzes the relationship between gender and theories of visual and filmic representation. Topics include social realism, social satire, World War II, concept of family, violence, mechanisms of gender construction, gender and film. Taught in English. Cross-listed with WGS 280.


ITAL-282 Modern Italian Theater
An exploration of the diversity of Italian theater and drama between 1880 and the post-World War II period, from the time of the great actors to the rise of the director, including movements such as Verismo, Symbolism, Futurism, Grotesque, Variety Theater, and playwrights such as Pirandello and De Filippo. Through rigorous play analysis and videos, students are invited to perceive the numerous shifts in the relationship between art and reality, and its implications for the staging of the plays. Actual performance of selected scenes is possible. Taught in English.


ITAL-285 Wartime Italy: Cinema and Novel
A focus on Italian memory of World War II and efforts at Reconstruction. Through textual and visual analysis students discuss the Italian experience of World War II, the Resistance and Italian Civil War, the Italian Holocaust, the struggles of forging a new Italian republic, and the myth-making processes that explained the suffering and casualties. Through this inquiry, students come to comprehend contemporary Italian society, thought, and culture. Taught in English.


ITAL-290 D'Annunzio:Novel of Decadence
An examination of the early works of the Italian writer Gabriele D'Annunzio, specifically in the context of Decadentism, a literary movement of the turn of the 20th century. Topics of analysis include the author's treatment of Dandyism, malady, aestheticism, sexual promiscuity, deception and infidelity. Given the notorious connection between the male fascist Ideal and the author's adaptation of Friedrich Nietzsche's "Superman," the course also focuses on the development of both male and female characters. Taught in English.


ITAL-295 Great Italian Masters of Science and Technology: Two Thousand Years of Genius
This course explores Italian contributions to the practice and critique of science and technology across the centuries. Students read literary and non-literary texts that explore cosmology, architecture, astronomy, anatomy, optics, medicine, engineering, flight, and infinity. Texts include treatises, letters, dialogues, epic poetry, drawings, paintings, science fiction, manifestos and more. The positive and negative implications of scientific and technological advancements are discussed as students adopt a critical approach toward the texts, and the phenomena they depict.


ITAL-299 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Graded A-F


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ITAL-301 Advanced Writing in Italian
A focus on refining students reading and writing skills. Throughout the semester students write different literary and popular genres such as poems, a mini screenplay, a short story, advertisements and journal articles. In order to familiarize students with such literary genres, models are introduced to the class and closely analyzed before each written assignment. Taught exclusively in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 202 or equivalent; or placement.


ITAL-302 Italy in the New Millennium
A course designed to refine students' fluency in Italian by combining linguistic proficiency with a cultural exploration of one of Europe's most fascinating countries. Students will develop a familiarity with Italy's literary and cultural patrimony through texts, articles and film. Through an analysis and a comparison of cultural differences, students will have the opportunity of exposing and sharing their discoveries through presentations, discussions and brief essays. Brief grammatical reviews will be performed throughout the semester. Taught exclusively in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 202 or equivalent; or placement.


ITAL-303 Italian Film Study: The 1980s and 1990s
An introduction to several contemporary Italian films of the last twenty-five years that have achieved worldwide recognition with the aim to increase conversational and writing skills. Students advance their proficiency in these areas, as well as their listening and reading abilities, through discussion of questions answered from text readings, self-guided reviews of grammar, and short essays. Fifth semester course taught in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 202 or equivalent; or placement.


ITAL-304 Italian Cinema in the New Millennium
A study of Italian movies produced in the first decade of the 21st century as a medium for refining students' language skills. The viewing of each film is preceded and followed by oral and written activities in order to familiarize students with the vocabulary and topics covered in the movie. The movies thus serve to improve students' oral, written, spoken and comprehension skills. Students also learn to discuss complex topics as well as discover diverse aspects of contemporary culture, socio-economic issues, history and politics in Italy today. Taught exclusively in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 202 or equivalent; or placement.


ITAL-305 Luchino Visconti: Italian Master Filmmaker
In-depth study of four films by acclaimed filmmaker Luchino Visconti. Course uses movies, original scripts, detailed visual analysis, essay papers, movie dubbing, and acting to improve spoken, written, listening, and communication skills in Italian. Students learn to engage in artistic and cultural discussion by focusing on cultural context and movie structure. Taught exclusively in Italian.


ITAL-306 Italian Film Classics (1946 – 1960)
A study of classic Italian Film (1946-1960) to refine students' language skills. Students view videos, learn vocabulary and cultural topics, and conduct activities in class. The videos serve to improve students' oral, written, spoken, and comprehension skills. From class discussions and exercises, students learn aspects of recent Italian history, culture mores, politics, and social conventions. Taught exclusively in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 202 or equivalent; or placement.


ITAL-307 At the Opera: Italian Language, Culture, and Conversation
Course uses Italian opera to refine students’ language skills. Students view videos and listen to CDs, learn vocabulary and cultural topics, and conduct activities in class. The videos and CDs serve to improve students’ oral, written, spoken, and comprehension skills. From class discussions and exercises, students learn aspects of Italian history, culture mores, politics, and social conventions. Taught exclusively in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 202 or equivalent; or placement.


ITAL-308 Great Italian Playwrights
Course introduces students to the richness of Italian dramatic expression by focusing on a group of fundamental playwrights from the Renaissance to the present day or by selecting more works by a single author. Students read original texts, view videos, learn specific vocabulary, practice dialogues orally and perform short scenes in Italian. The activities help students perceive the different hues of Italian culture in action while refining pronunciation and communicative skills.


ITAL-309 Italian Film: Continuing the Classics (1961-1981)
A study of classic Italian Film (1961-1981) to refine students' language skills. Students view videos, learn vocabulary and cultural topics, and conduct activities in class. The videos serve to improve students' oral, written, spoken, and comprehension skills. From class discussions and exercises, students learn aspects of recent Italian history, culture mores, politics, and social conventions. Taught exclusively in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 202 or equivalent; or placement.


ITAL-320 Living Italian Civilization
“Italian Civilization: the Foundations of Rome, the Genesis of Italian Literature and Beyond” is an exploration of Italian history and literature from the Roman period to the present. Particular emphasis placed on Italy’s Roman foundation, the genesis of Italian literature in the medieval period, and these periods’ profound impact on today’s world. Students develop reading and language skills through discussions of texts, oral presentations, short essays, and context-driven grammar and vocabulary instruction.


ITAL-330 The Dark Side of Italy
This course examines the “dark side” of Italian literature and film by delving into the literary genres of the gothic and the fantastic, and the cinematic genre of horror. In the first part of the course, we will read novel excerpts and short stories from the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries that belong (often problematically) to such literary movements as the Scapigliatura, Verismo, and Decadentismo. In the second part of the course, we will view early Italian horror films from the 1950s and 1960s. This course will provoke questions related to identity, desire, the unconscious, the abject, the uncanny, fear, and pleasure.


ITAL-335 The Great World Wars and Italy: Authoritative Testimony in Literature and Film
Wars in Twentieth Century Italy. This course focuses on selected Italian literary works, and films depicting the historical period between the two world conflicts. Through some mostly autobiographical productions of poetry, prose, and films, the students travel back in time to view and analyze those years of suffering, and all their related historical, sociological, and human aspects that shaped Italy.


ITAL-350 Italy Since Fascism: A Topical Approach
Study of a variety of aspects of recent Italian history and culture. Students learn topics that range from politics and the economy, to environmental issues, the Southern Question, emigration, Carnevale, and popular music. Students advance their reading and language skills through discussion of questions answered from text readings, through short, argumentative papers, and through a review of grammar.


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ITAL-450 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


ITAL-451 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


ITAL-452 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


ITAL-453 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


ITAL-460 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


ITAL-461 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


ITAL-462 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


ITAL-463 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor graded S/U


ITAL-470 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


ITAL-471 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


ITAL-472 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


ITAL-473 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


ITAL-474 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded A-F, counting in the minimum requirements for a major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office.


ITAL-475 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded S/U, counting in the minimum requirements for a major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office


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