Field of Study: Italian Language and Literature
Programs in Italian language and literature teach people the spoken and written traditions of Italy. Students learn how Italian words began and the language developed. They study Italian and its dialects. They also learn how to apply the knowledge to business and technology.
Italy is famous for its opera, good food and wine, wonderful weather for growing grapes, and culturally rich cities such as Naples, Florence, and Rome. Rome, in turn, is famous for both its ancient history and Vatican City - the central government of the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican City is an independent, sovereign state within Italy. Its library is open to scholars who read and do research in Latin and other ancient languages.
Italy has also produced famous works of literature, film, and art. One of the greatest filmmakers of all time is Federico Fellini, who wrote and directed nearly 50 films. These include "La Dolce Vita," "La Strada," and "8." The 14th century writer Dante is perhaps Italy's greatest literary figure, and also regarded as the writer of some of the world's best literature. His works include "The Divine Comedy" which includes the piece most people are familiar with, "The Inferno." Another famous 14th century humanist and poet is Francesco Petrarca, more commonly known as Petrarch. He was famous for his love sonnets about a woman named Laura as well as his epic, "Africa." His letters and essays are also widely read and studied today. And of course, in the art world, Italy is famous for such artists as Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo.
In Italian language and literature programs, you study just what the name implies – language and literature. You take courses from different fields of study, such as art, anthropology, and history. You learn about Italian culture and history, from the influence of the Roman empire to the birth of the Renaissance in Florence to modern times.
Most importantly, you learn to speak Italian. You also learn how to read and write the language. Many courses also teach you translation techniques. In addition, you read original, untranslated works of literature, including poems, essays, epics, and novels. You also study folklore and film.
Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in Italian language and literature. Some two-year colleges offer the first two years of study. Students can often transfer these credits to a four-year school. Master's degrees typically take five or six years of full-time study after high school. Doctoral degree programs typically take three to five years after the master's degree. Most people with graduate degrees become professors.
Students who major in Italian language and literature may be able to choose concentrations such as:
Specific Language Groups
You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.
- Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies
- Second Language
- World Geography
- World History
- Ancient Civilizations
- World Area Studies
- Political Science
- Western Civilization
Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores. In addition, you must be able to demonstrate that you can speak, read, write, and understand Italian at an advanced level.
Additional requirements at some schools include:
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement
- Academic writing sample
Typical course work
This program typically includes courses in the following subjects:
- Applied Phonetics
- Civilization and Cultural History
- Conversation and Composition
- Literary Studies
- Literature, Folklore, and Film
- Reading Skills
- Study in the Italian language or its dialects (beginning, intermediate, advanced)
Graduate programs in Italian language and literature typically require:
- Required courses
- Thesis (master's degree)
- Preliminary exams (doctoral degree only)
- Dissertation and dissertation defense (doctoral degree)
Things to know
Students who major in Italian language and literature may be required or encouraged to spend some time living, working, and studying abroad. Most programs coordinate semester abroad or work internships. In most cases, you can participate in these after you have completed at least two years of language study.
Colleges that do not have complete programs in Italian language and literature may offer elective courses as part of a major in interdisciplinary studies or liberal arts.
Very few people who receive a bachelor's degree in Italian language and literature ever get a job directly related to the field. Even so, this program provides a solid background for many careers that require a four-year degree. This is because students in Italian language and literature learn skills in critical thinking and writing. These skills are valuable to many types of employers.
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University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
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