Highlights of the Italian School’s 2017 Session

2017 Master’s Degree Recipients

OAKLAND, Calif.—The Italian School’s fourth summer at Mills College was a great success. We continue to enjoy our western location, which gives us access to guest lecturers and visiting artists who would not be as accessible in the East, and the area offers an incredible variety of cultural events and activities. We welcomed about 80 students to the school, a slight increase from the previous year.

The curriculum last summer included a number of new courses as well as the usual wide range of performances, trips, club activities, and workshops. A special feature for our undergraduates was a six-week diction workshop for all the language classes with Emilio Ceruti. We also offered evening workshops emphasizing appreciation of the Italian language and culture.

Giulia Tellini and Lorenzo Borgotallo conducted a theatrical workshop for all of the students in the language courses. It was designed to help undergraduates improve their diction while learning new idiomatic expressions outside of the traditional classroom setting. Students were also encouraged to take advantage of biweekly club meetings on various topics relating to Italian culture, and Italian School director Antonio Vitti offered a new evening workshop for students at all levels to help improve their language and cultural skills.

Required Reading

There were two special writing workshops conducted by visiting artists over the summer. Award-winning novelist, essayist, and short-story writer Carmine Abate spent 10 days attending classes and conducting workshops, and novelist Mavie Parisi held a weeklong workshop on creative writing and literary interpretation. She also visited classes to discuss her novels and short stories, which were among the readings assigned for levels II, III, and IV.

We were pleased to host visiting artists representing two different types of Italian music. Guitarist Cataldo Perri demonstrated the chitarra battente, a traditional Calabrian style of guitar, and also held two workshops. Opera singers benefitted from a workshop on vocal technique and diction conducted by maestro Cosimo Colazzo and soprano Patrizia Zanardi, who also staged two recitals and directed a wonderful student performance at the end of the summer.

A Culinary Journey

Italian cuisine was not neglected, either. We offered weekly meetings with chef Angelo Nicotra, who led students on a culinary trip across the Italian peninsula to discover the rich variety of the Italian diet. We also had three workshops on Italian wines with our wine specialist Vittorio Vettori. He led two trips to Sonoma to show the role that wine has had through the centuries in shaping and spreading Italian culture in California.

The Italian School’s courses in advanced culture and civilization, as well as graduate literature courses, cover topics focusing on different periods of Italian civilization. Last summer those topics included Commedia all’italiana in Cinema, Umanesimo (Humanism), Eighteenth-Century Narrative, Linguistics, Giuseppe Verdi, A Rereading of Italian Unification, Early Modern Literature and Culture, The Representation of the Italian Family in Literature, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Italian Historical Novels, National Language and Dialects, and Vocal Techniques and Stagecraft in Italian Opera. A pedagogy course, including a practicum, was dedicated to the use of technology in the classroom and methodology for second-language instruction.

Courses for Master’s Candidates

Courses designed for new students in the master’s program offered a broad view of Italian culture and literature. For returning students, we offered a wide variety of courses on linguistics, music, cinema, pedagogy, and literature. Two new courses were added to the curriculum, giving special emphasis on Italian fashion, design, and cuisine. We also offered special workshops on how to prepare a CV and a cover letter and how to get ready for job interviews.

Our three-week Italian for Adults program included new workshops on culture and civilization. We also had a one-week refresher course for high school teachers sponsored by the Italian Language Foundation. Seven high school teachers participated with two certified instructors, who conducted the workshop.

The Italian School’s summer session clearly demonstrated that we have a world-class faculty. Our language classes and graduate program offer unique opportunities for students at all levels to improve their knowledge of the language, and our courses in Italian studies at the graduate level are among the best in the United States and the world.

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