105: History of Italian Culture: The City / La città

TuTh 9:30-11 | 6331 Dwinelle | Instructor: Fuller, Lange, Pirillo, Spackman

Units: 4 Satisfies L&S Historical Studies breadth requirement.

Introduction to the historical development of Italian culture from the Middle Ages to the present, with an emphasis on critical analysis of literary and visual texts in relation to the politics and societies of the Italian peninsula, and an ultimate goal of advancing students’ Italian linguistic and critical skills. A modular course co-taught by Italian Studies faculty members with different disciplinary backgrounds, Italian Studies 105 provides continuity within the diversity of approaches adopted and objects of study under examination. The city serves as the prism through which we will view cultural objects and historical moments in the history of the Italian peninsula, including the rise of city states and political theory in early modern Florence; the importance of the papacy and the flowering of the visual arts in Renaissance and Baroque Rome and Venice; the beginnings of revolution and the southern question as viewed from Naples; and the colonial period as viewed from Asmara, capital of modern Italy’s former colony (1890-1941), Eritrea.

Four faculty members teach this course. One of them is the lead faculty member (Professor Mia Fuller), who teaches the first and last weeks of the class as well the last of the three-week modules, and attends classes during the semester to ensure continuity and consistency. The other three are Professors Henrike Lange, Diego Pirillo, and Barbara Spackman. The sequence and topics of the four modules are as follows:

Weeks 2 – 4 (Lange): 14th-16th centuries, Florence

Weeks 5 – 7 (Pirillo): 15th-18th centuries, Venice

Weeks 8 – 10 (Spackman): 19th-21st centuries, Naples and the Southern Question

Weeks 11 – 13 (Fuller): 19th-21st centuries, colonial and postcolonial Italian cities

The course is taught exclusively in Italian, with primary and secondary readings in Italian and English. Short written assignments (300 words) in Italian will be due weekly. The final assignment will be a long paper (2500 words) also written in Italian.

Course goals

  • You will gain an overview of eight centuries of Italian culture in its physical, historical and political contexts;
  • You will be exposed to different disciplinary approaches, including anthropology, urban studies, intellectual history, literary study, and the history of art;
  • You will advance your writing, speaking, and reading skills in Italian;
  • You will develop a final paper project in collaboration with a faculty member, and write a research paper in Italian by the end of the semester.


            Italian 101 or placement exam.