Contact Us
Department of Italian and Italian Studies
Bryn Mawr College
101 North Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899

Phone: (610) 526-5198
FAX: (610) 526-7479

Department of Italian and Italian Studies

As a discipline, Italian Studies has changed a lot in the last few years. Rather than merely confirming a fixed field of study, it now focuses on problems of a cross-disciplinary nature in both content and method. The range of research interests has broadened beyond the confines of the canon and can no longer be met within the traditional language/literature courses. It is a significant shift in perspective. The aim of the major/minor in Italian Studies is to assist the development of Cultural Studies as a new area of research ranging from the Middle Ages to present day, with greater emphasis given to contextual factors. Along side the works of a single author, it proposes to explore more popular genres within an array of critical perspectives --politics, history, film, literature, visual arts, and popular culture in Italy.

After fulfilling basic units of language instruction, students will choose from a variety of interesting courses (in English and Italian) on the literature, culture, history, and cinema of Italy.

Students majoring in areas such as music, International Studies, Comparative Literature, Art History, Cities, Classics, or Film Studies will find the new Italian Studies program ideally suited to their interdisciplinary interests.

Why study Italian?

In the context of globalization and internationalization of the world, the usefulness of studying languages is no longer contested. Language is not only a skill to use for exchanging thoughts, but a crucial component of self-expressions and --as such-- it is at the core of trans-lingual and trans-cultural competence. While we use language to communicate our needs to others, language simultaneously reveals us to others and to ourselves. Language is a complex multifunctional phenomenon that links an individual to other individuals, to communities, and to other cultures. For the past decades, Italian has been an expanding field. There has been a significant growth in the number of Italian Studies programs in colleges and universities. According to the most recent MLA statistics, the number of students of Italian has increased steadily in the United States (more than 22%) and now extra-literary subjects -- ranging from Film Studies to semiotics, from pop culture to Food Studies -- augment the traditional literary study of authors, from Dante to post-modern writers such as Calvino. The study of Italian is enjoyable both because of the richness of its literary and artistic culture and because the language is one in which rapid progress is made in the early stages.

Why Study Italian at BMC?

As a non-counterpart program, the Department of Italian provides the only access to Italian Studies in the Bryn Mawr-Haverford-Swarthmore community. While Italian has been a major field from the time the College was founded, collaboration with other departments has always added breadth and flexibility to our program and continues to foster interdisciplinary studies that aim towards globalized and internationalized learning, where languages play a crucial role. Recent trends in Italian Departments throughout the country indicate that successful programs for majors in Italian or Italian Studies must be interdisciplinary. In line with this trend and building upon an international understanding and interdisciplinary education, BMC curriculum integrates language studies with knowledge of Italian culture that embraces, in addition to literature, history, politics, cinema, theater, the arts, archeology, classics, political science, economics, Gender and Sexuality, philosophy. Often students opt for a double major by combining Italian with work in other literatures or fields. Students should ideally plan to study Italian for at least two years.

The Department of Italian welcomes all students from the Trico system interested in Italian culture as viewed from a variety of critical perspectives that incorporate content and cross-cultural reflection at every level, including but not limited to cultural studies, women’s studies and feminist criticism, post-colonial and film theory. The sound reputation of Italian that our department enjoys may be measured by the fact that all the students who have majored in Italian and have gone on to do graduate work in Italian have been accepted by the schools of their choice: Harvard, Berkeley, Rutgers, Johns Hopkins --often with financial assistance.

How can I study Italian at BMC?

Trico students may choose to study Italian as:

How many students study Italian?

At present we have 120 students in Italian classes. Though the recent increased intake means an average of 38 students per year over the last three years.

Can I start Italian from scratch?

Yes, a beginner in Italian has the same chance of majoring in Italian with honors (3.7 GPA) as a non-beginner. In our average first-year class enrollments of 35-40 students and of 7-10 majors in Italian, one a third of these will have previous knowledge of the language.

Extracurricular Activities and Fellowships

The classroom experience is enriched through the mediation of the Italian Club (le Italianiste di Bryn Mawr), which sponsors a variety of cultural activities, including the Tavola Italiana (once a week), the Italian Tea (once a semester), scholarly events, and films.The Italian Department also offers fellowship opportunities for students of Italian via Italian-American institutions (see our useful links) and Internships.

  • Internships in Italy offered through the Network of Autonomous Schools of the Lombardy Region (Italy), in collaboration with the Department for the Instruction and Professional Training of the Lombardy Region and the Regional Education Office of Lombardy.

    The Program offers the possibility of a teaching internship to recent graduates (within the past 18 months) in Italian language and culture from Bryn Mawr College, who are native speakers of English.   The Program will place Interns as English Language Assistants in Lombardy schools.
    Interns will:

    Work for 25 hours per week, thus distributed: 12 hours per week in the classroom as English Language Assistants, always in the presence of the Italian teacher of the subject matter, and 13 hours per week as preparation time,
  •  Receive a monthly stipend of net 600 Euros for work performed;
  •  Attend a training session for the English Language Assistants at the beginning of the school year;
  •  Have the opportunity to take courses at the local University;
  •  Receive a certificate of completion stating the details of the program upon completion of the Program.
  • Have the opportunity to take the CELI certification exam, and, if successful, receive a CELI certificate upon completion.
  • Every year, the Italian Department at BMC will select two students for the internship, according to their academic merit and language/ teaching  skills. Please contact the Chair of the Department if you are interested in applying for the internship.