Semester Course Descriptions

Italian Language and Literature

  • Italian Language: Three Week Intensive Italian Course

    (75 total hours) All students, whether beginners, intermediate or advanced, begin their Siena Italian Studies experience with our Three Week Intensive Italian Language Course. After an entrance exam, students are placed in appropriate levels and participate every day in classes and activities designed to develop all linguistic abilities, from the basic (listening, reading, writing, speaking) to the integrated (responding to questions, note-taking, transcodification). A wide variety of teaching materials is used, including the Program’s own textbook, Dimmi Tutto!, to allow each student to best identify and develop his or her abilities. Students also interact with the city environment and help to create their own Italian language study materials. Once a week, students and teachers discuss the dynamics of language learning and the teaching methods used.

  • Italian Language

    (8 hrs/week) Following the Three Week Intensive Italian Course, students are placed in the appropriate level and continue to study Italian language 2 hours a day, 4 days a week for the duration of the semester. Classes include a variety activities linked to experiences in the city, student presentations, discussions, videos, quizzes, and writing assignments, as well as the study of specific aspects of Italian grammar. The intermediate and advanced levels provide a complete study of grammatical and communicative structures using materials that are varied in both content and type.

  • Contemporary Italian Literature

    (45 total contact hours) This course will analyze some of the fundamental themes present in Italian literature during the contemporary period:  love, political consciousness, the search for freedom and the creation of an identity.  The themes will be presented through the reading of various passages from such authors as:  Ungaretti, Montale, Saba and Luzi and short stories from authors such including Ginzburg and Moravia. Students will learn how the works are constructed and how language has evolved by comparing one author to another and discussing the themes presented.

    Prerequisite: B1 or intermediate level of Italian

  • Italian Literature: From the Middle Ages to the 20th Century

    (45 total contact hours) The course will analyze a theme that has been a foundation of Italian literature from the medieval period to the contemporary one:  the love story, with the woman often considered as an angel and inspirational muse.  This theme will be presented through the reading of some of the most poetic works, from Dante to Saba, and from Petrarch to Montale.  This reflection will also be accompanied by the study of some pieces by modern and contemporary authors on the existential crises of the modern man, from Pirandello to Calvino, from Svevo to Tabucchi.

    Prerequisite: B1 or intermediate level of Italian

  • Literary Translation

    (45 total contact hours) The aim of this course is both literary and linguistic as well as to speed up the students’ process in learning the Italian language. The class provides an expansive and in-depth overview of modern Italian literature compared to major American writers whose style will also be analyzed. Moreover, these translations (esercizi di stile) from Italian into English will give the instrumental support necessary for students during their cultural experience abroad to improve technically their writing style, to edit a translation, and to master an Italian dictionary. All sections place major emphasis on analysis of modern Italian authors and their methodology exploring also the various techniques used including a comparative analysis between Italian and American literature. After a brief introduction to the real meaning of translation the course will focus on the beginning of Italian language with a great emphasis on local and national history. We will discuss the history of Italian dialects and its linguistic implication in the passage from Latin to the vulgate (a mix of the Florentine dialect and Latin). The discussion of some key issues of literary studies (such as poetic translation, Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium, the role of dialects and European artistic movements) will be linked to their American cultural contamination or influence. Moreover, we will discuss the main cultural debates concerning the melting pot in literature, inter-culture, translation and multiculturalism.

    Prerequisite: B1 or intermediate level of Italian

  • Latin Language and Literature

    (45 total contact hours) This course, for students who have at least an elementary knowledge of Latin, proposes an essential overview of Latin literature from its origins to its decline. We read texts in Latin and in Italian translation matched to students level that allow us to study not only the morphology and syntax of Latin and Italian, but also many little-known aspects of Roman civilization, such as its beliefs and superstitions. The course establishes connections between Latin and Italian, highlighting the origins, evolution and autonomy of the Italian language and culture. Related to this, we compare some Latin texts with modern Italian works (for example, Petronius’ Satyricon compared with Fellini’s cinematic version). The course challenges students with both written and oral exams. It includes readings from such authors as Plautus, Cicero, Lucretius, Seneca, Petronius, Tacitus and St. Augustine.

  • Intercultural Reflections Seminar

    (1 hr/week) Structured and guided reflection is key to the Intercultural Reflections Seminar. Our students are stimulated to reflect on every single intercultural encounter they have, which can include but are not limited to reflections on: the surrounding environment, historic testimony, the host family, relationships between men/women, his/her peers, service.

    The objective is to create a reflective awareness that allows students to open themselves to the world without getting lost, to discover the confines of their own culture interacting with those of the host culture, to see reality from different perspectives and to feel common ties of humanity under the flow of apparent differences. Reflective writing is the student’s personal tool to create his/her own personal understanding and knowledge.

    All students enrolled at SIS take the Intercultural Reflections Seminar. The class meets once a week for 1 1/2 hours during which students submit weekly entries concerning their studies and their overall experience/service and share them with their peers. Class is led by the Intercultural Reflections Facilitator, who serves as a bridge between the two cultures by facilitating students’ process of decoding and encoding cultural signs.

  • Sociolinguistic Studies

    (45 total contact hours) After a brief study of the formation of Italian as a national language, this course will analyze the movements, changes and the many dramatic transformations that came about in the language during the course of the Twentieth century. We look at and compare geographical variations (Standard Italian, dialects, regionalisms, ethno-linguistic minorities, Italian outside Italy and the Italian spoken by immigrants in Italy), as well as variations within society (popular vs. cultured Italian, jargon/slang, juvenile language, gender-specific Italian, specialized language), context-based variations (registers, functional/contextual variations) and variations found in different forms of the language (written, spoken and transmitted language). Students participate in fieldwork projects based on their areas of interest.