Yale University

Italian Language & Literature

Yale University
In New Haven (USA)

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Important information

Typology PhD
Location New haven (USA)
  • PhD
  • New haven (USA)

Affiliated Faculty Roberto González Echevarría (Spanish & Portuguese), Gundula Kreuzer (Music), David Quint (English), Gary Tomlinson (Music)

Facilities (1)
Where and when



New Haven (USA)
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On request

To take into account

· What are the objectives of this course?

The Italian department brings together several disciplines for the study of the Italian language and its literature. Although the primary emphasis is on a knowledge of the subject throughout the major historical periods, the department welcomes applicants who seek to integrate their interests in Italian with wider methodological concerns and discourses, such as history, rhetoric and critical theories, comparison with other literatures, the figurative arts, religious and philosophical studies, medieval, Renaissance, and modern studies, and the contemporary state of Italian writing. Interdepartmental work is therefore encouraged and students are accordingly given considerable freedom in planning their individual curriculum, once they have acquired a broad general knowledge of the field through course work and supplementary independent study.

· Requirements

The department recognizes that good preparation in Italian literature is unusual at the college level and so suggests that applicants begin as soon as possible to acquire a broad general knowledge of the field through outside reading. At the end of the first and second years, students’ progress is analyzed in an evaluative colloquium. Applicants who have had little or no experience in Italy are generally urged to do some work abroad during the course of their graduate program. For all students of Italian, a reading knowledge of Latin is essential . This may be acquired during the course...

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What you'll learn on the course

Italian Language

Course programme


ITAL 530a, 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.
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

ITAL 560a, Age of DisenchantmentGiuseppe Mazzotta

This course focuses on the literary debates, theological arguments, and scientific shifts taking place between the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1437–38) and the Council of Trent and beyond, by reading key texts by Valla, Cusa, Pulci, Luther, Erasmus, Ariosto, Campanella, Bruno, Galileo, and Bellarmino. It examines issues such as the crisis of belief, the authority of the past, the emergence of freedom, new aesthetics, and the effort to create a new theological language for modern times.
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

ITAL 577b, 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.
MW 1pm-2:15pm

ITAL 590a / CPLT 916a / FILM 830a, Literature into FilmMillicent Marcus

When watching a film based on a book we have read and loved, the usual response is one of disappointment, if not outright anger at the liberties taken in adapting a text to the screen. This course aims to challenge that approach by vindicating the filmmaker’s freedom to interpret the textual source, and to question the thinking that places literature above cinema in the hierarchy of artistic forms. Our curriculum involves case studies of adaptations that pose ingenious solutions to the problem of transforming written texts into audiovisual spectacles. With one exception, we screen films on Monday evenings and do a comparative study in the Wednesday class period, developing an overall approach to the filmmaker’s adaptive strategy and making extensive use of video clips to do detailed visual analysis of scenes in the light of their corresponding textual sources. Rather than develop a general theory of adaptation, we apply methodologies on a case-by-case basis, taking each literature-into-film example as a response to a sui generis set of requirements. In the process, we use a variety of analytical tools, including those deriving from psychoanalysis, feminism, ideological criticism, historiography, genre study, semiotics, etc. There are two papers—a shorter one of a critical nature (approximately 5 pages) and a final research paper (approximately 20 pages). Conducted in English. Texts are available in Italian and English, and all films are subtitled.
W 3:30pm-5:20pm, M 8pm-10pm

ITAL 691a or b, Directed ReadingChristiana Purdy Moudarres


ITAL 701b, Romantic QuarrelsGiuseppe Mazzotta

The course examines the extraordinary intellectual and political feverishness that characterizes Italian history between the time of the French Revolution and the achievement of the national unity of the country (1861). Radical literary theories, terrorist political practices, epoch-making literary works, and passionate debates about aesthetics mark this period. Its vitality and contradictions emerge from a reading of selected works by Cuoco, Alfieri, Foscolo, Leopardi, Mazzini, Manzoni, Rosmini, and De Sanctis. They all in varying degrees explore the nexus between the idea of a “country,” the sense of secret revolutionary action (the so-called Risorgimento), the value of the classical heritage, and the need for the emergence of a new sense of history and a new philosophical discourse that would be addressed also for Europe. In Italian.
T 2:30pm-4:20pm

ITAL 720a / CPLT 684a / ENGL 574a / RNST 684a, Renaissance EpicJane Tylus and David Quint

This course looks at Renaissance epic poetry in relationship to classical models and as a continuing generic tradition. It examines epic type scenes, formal strategies, and poetic architecture. It looks at themes of exile and imperial foundations, aristocratic ideology, and the role of gender. The main readings are drawn from Vergil’s Aeneid, Lucan’s De bello civili, Dante’s Purgatorio, Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata, Camões’s Os Lusíadas, and Spenser’s Faerie Queene.
M 2:30pm-4:20pm

ITAL 780b, Il romanzo del NovecentoMillicent Marcus

No literary form is better suited to gauging the convulsive changes wrought by Italy’s entrance into modernity than the novel. Infinitely permeable to the forces of historical circumstance, the novel counters these external forces with its own version of the evolving Italian subject in all its personal richness and complexity. We study the evolution of this literary genre throughout the course of the twentieth century and, in the process, adopt a variety of approaches, including, but not limited to, semiotics, psychoanalysis, narratology, gender, ideological criticism, and “la questione della lingua.” In Italian.
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

ITAL 940b / CPLT 715b, 1492: Before and After: Geographical and Linguistic ItinerariesJane Tylus

Not simply the date of Columbus’s landing, 1492 also marks Lorenzo de’ Medici’s death, the banishment of Jews from Spain and Sicily, the election of a Borgia pope—Alexander VI, celebrated by Machiavelli—and the birth of Pietro Aretino. We briefly consider the shared cultural and religious history of Italy and Spain, even as most of our attention will be focused on Italy’s role as precursor: the Florentine Vespucci was the first to use the phrase “nuovo mondo,” and Columbus was inspired by the stories of Marco Polo and travels of Italian pilgrims to the Holy Land. We start with Columbus and his contemporary Savonarola and move into the “new worlds” of the early sixteenth century as represented by four topics: the rise of print; the burgeoning pastoral genre; the (brief) reaffirmation of the Florentine republic with cameo appearances by Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Machiavelli; and the otherworldly (but also very much of this world) romance of Ariosto. We spend time in the Beinecke Library with maps, Savonarola’s sermons, and early sixteenth-century Sienese pastoral plays, and also spend an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Renaissance paintings. In English.
Th 3:30pm-5:20pm

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