Siena Semester Program

Graduate Courses

SIS Grad Courses

  • Italian Literature from the Renaissance to Romanticism

    The course focuses on the principal authors of Italian literature from the 15th to the 19th centuries. These authors include Machiavelli, Ariosto, Tasso, Galilei, Foscolo, Goldoni, Manzoni and Leopardi. During the course the professor will offer a general overview of the history of Italian literature, exploring the mail cultural movements of these periods from Humanism and the Counter Reformation to the Enlightenment, Neoclassicim and Romanticism and the Restoration and the Resurgence. Particular focus will be dedicated to the contribution and influence by the authors in the context of their respective eras. Students will read, analyze and discuss a series of texts and excerpts during the course and will complete oral presentations, a midterm and final exam, and a final term paper.

  • Italian Literature of the Diaspora: From Silence to the Word: The Search for Italian-American Identity from two Second-Generation Writers.

    After briefly sketching a panorama of Italian immigration to the United States, this course will examine the writings of two second-generation Italian authors: Robert Viscusi and Maria Mazziotti Gillan. Both authors reflect the hostile relationship that many immigrants’ children had with their own origins. These were often perceived as an obstacle and, therefore, veiled in silence in order to facilitate the ‘melting pot’ concept. The difficult rediscovery of the Italian language and culture by the two authors- after a long phase of silence, at times imposed, at times desired- and their type of “psychoanalytical” work that discusses the turbulent road in search of roots, act as witness to the dilemma that has characterized the second generation in search for their own identity. Students will complete a midterm and final exam, as well as complete a final term paper on a topic determined jointly by the student and professor.

  • Monographic Course: Luigi Pirandello

    This course will focus on Luigi Pirandello’s life, works, and poetry, as well as on his fundamental importance in early twentieth century literature and culture, both in Italy and in the larger European context. Students are required to read assigned material carefully and to prepare for active discussions and presentations. Students are expected to make brief oral presentations regularly. There will be a midterm exam, a term paper (8-10 pages) and a final oral exam. The term paper should focus on one or more of Pirandello’s works, or aspects of his works. Students will discuss paper topics with professor and then choose one that relates to the general program.

  • Second Language Acquisition: Principles of Glottodidactics

    This course is intended for graduate level students who seek to deepen various themes relative to Italian instruction as L2, as well as the acquisition of Italian as L2. The course will be sub-divided into two parts. Part one will be theoretical and part two will be dedicated to more practical methods of Glottodidactics, including observation of lessons and the creation and elaboration of didactic projects. In addition, the Common European Reference for Languages will be analyzed, a brief overview of the History of Italian Language will be presented and the sociolinguistic situation of contemporary Italian language in Italy. Students will complete all parts of the course, actively participating with projects and homework to be presented and discussed during each lesson. Students will be required to read various texts in the reference bibliography and some additional materials provided by the instructor. During the course students will complete a theoretical exam that relates to the first part of the course. Participants will also be expected to create project work appropriate for the classes observed. At the conclusion of the course they must complete a didactic unit that reflects the various theoretical and practical considerations that emerged during the course.

  • Second Language Acquisition: The FICCS Approach

    Siena Italian Studies’ Programs promote training courses that focus on the formation of cultural and linguistic competencies necessary to those embarking upon on a study abroad course. The course, articulated in theoretical lessons and practical lessons, requires in-class attendance, with the exception of the last portion that can also be taken online. The FICCS (Full Immersion: Culture, Content and Service) Method is unique to SIS and utilizes the unparalleled value of the combination of spontaneous and guided acquisition in language study abroad. The course will outline all components of the FICCS students’ experience as well as discuss the development and consolidation of Reflective Intercultural Competence, knowledge and expansion of teaching strategies and encourage the development of reflective didactic strategies, including a reflective didactic journal.

  • Sociolinguistics: Italian Language in the Americas

    The course will present the principle varieties of the Italian language that emigrated together with the millions of Italian citizens who left Italy to find opportunity in the various nations of the Americas. It will begin with a historical-social reflection on emigration and then it will focus on the languages that were developed in Latin America and in the United States from contact between the Italian emigrants and the local languages (in particular English, Spanish, Portuguese). The cultural and linguistic identity of the emigrants resurfaces through these “mixed” idioms that present very different histories and outcomes. The emigrants’ languages will be presented from the historical and sociolinguistic point of view; concrete examples of these languages will be given in different types of texts (poems, songs, proverbs…), and we will analyze the relationship that that developed between the Italian dialects that left Italy and the languages of their destination countries. During the course, students will complete a midterm exam, an oral presentation and complete a final research paper on a topic determined jointly by the professor and students.

In Collaboration With The College of Mount Saint Vincent

  • Intercultural Communication

    The course of Intercultural Communication is aimed to give the students a wide overview on contemporary discussion upon multiculturalism, intercultural competencies and their many related dimensions and aspects while providing the students with the appropriate critical tools; its main goal is to train professionals endowed with a proper intercultural sensitivity and an attitude to reflect upon intercultural issues.

  • Intercultural Pragmatics: Tools for Understanding Italian Culture and Language

    The course aims to provide the students with theoretical competences as well as with practical tools for communicating successfully within the Italian culture. The pragmalinguistic, metalinguistic, and sociopragmatic competences acquired will constitute a conceptual grid that will allow the students to understand on a global scale the conceptual differences reflected into cultures and languages, and act locally within the Italian environment.


    The corner-stone idea of this course is that language constitutes a window onto the mind and onto the way in which the reality is conceptualized by a linguistic community, in this case the Italian one. In this perspective, understanding and being able to act successfully within a specific cultural framework cannot leave aside the (at least partial) understanding of the local language.


  • European Development Policy: European Perspective on International Engagement

    The course is aimed to give the students a wide overview on the development of International Organizations, both Non Governmental (INGOs) and Governmental (IGOs) in the world panorama with a specific concentration on Europe, the position and role of the European NGOs and the European Union in the globalized world, and the current public discourse in the European societies, where global mobility, migrations and a growing cultural and religious diversity are shaping the identity of 21st century Old Continent.

  • A European Perspective on Protection of Human Rights.

    Elective: 1 Credit

    The European system of human rights today is the result of a long historical process during which human rights were first protected as citizen rights and minority rights on the national level. With the European Union gradually developing from an economic into a political organization, human rights are becoming more and more important, both in the internal and external relations of the Union. This course aims to provide an introduction to the European System of Protection of Human Rights.

  • New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) vs Structural Adjustment: Focus on Camerun.

    Elective: 1 Credit

    The course aims to offer students a perspective on Africa’s underdevelopment that gives more room to Africans’ view. There is ample debate on the failure of development in Africa. The interpretation of its causes differs depending on whether it is given by the recipients or the donors’ point of view. Obviously there are nuances within each party. For instance African grassroots/civil society often disagree with  government/regional institutions’ views. International financial institutions/donor countries’ approach are not often shared by  non governmental initiatives of industrialized countries. Yet all agree on one point, the expected development of the continent is still very far from being met. Many African analysts have put the blame of the failure on western industrialized  development formula  which, according to them is mainly development aid rather than development cooperation. A development model that has deeply rooted an assistance mentality on government and people on the continent  that instead of looking for ways to solve their own issues would rather expect or call for aid. When in 2001 some African Heads of State merged two ambitious African programmes for the development of the continent that they had set off, namely the Millennium Africa Recovery Plan (MAP), led by South African President Thabo Mbeki and the Omega Plan, crafted by Abdoulaye Wade the President of Senegal into the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)  was this initiative the first step out of the self-incapacitation mindset that had so far characterised the African continent?

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