Commons Dean - BrainerdAsst. Professor of Comparative Literature
Office Hours: By appointment. Please contact Diane Burnham, the Brainerd Commons Coordinator, at 443-3320 for availability.
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Natasha came to Middlebury College in 2000 and serves as the Dean of Brainerd Commons as well as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature. She completed her BA at Wellesley College and holds a PhD in Romance Studies from Cornell University. She teaches courses on Fascism, Gender Studies, and Italian Studies and has published articles on a variety of authors including Alberto Moravia, Primo Levi, Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino. Her book "The Crisis Woman: Body Politics and the Modern Woman in Fascist Italy" is forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press.
As an educator and dean she is committed to the core values of a liberal arts education and is particularly invested in issues of inclusivity and diversity. In her free time she enjoys practicing ashtanga yoga, biking, cross-country skiing, cooking, and traveling.
She lives just outside of Middlebury with her husband Timothy Billings, who is a professor in the Department of English and American Literatures, and their daughter Viviana.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
CMLT 0320 / ITAL 0320 - Narratives Fascist Past ▲
Narratives of the Fascist Past: Memory, Forgetting, and the Myth of the Good Italian (In English)
In this course we will examine a troublingly persistent trope in post-fascist Italian culture: the myth of the “Good Italian” or the belief that Italians, benevolent by nature, overwhelmingly opposed the ideals of the fascist regime, protected Jews from deportation, and regularly subverted fascist law. Students will read several key literary texts—Gadda’s That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana, Loy’s First Words, Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, and Lucarelli’s Carte Blanche—alongside academic historiography, popular histories, journalism, and testimonies in order to fully grasp what is at stake in the heated public and scholarly debate over the “Good Italian”. We will consider issues such as the possibility of knowing history through literature, the ethical implications that arise from that possibility, and the narrative mechanisms through which the literary text engages or fails to engage questions of individual and collective accountability. (ENAM 0103 or CMLT 0101 or permission of the instructor) 3 hrs. sem.
CMLT 0500 - Independent Study ▲ ▹
Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
INTL 0481 / GRMN 0481 / ITAL 0481 - Memory & National Identity
Memory Matters: National Identity in Contemporary Germany and Italy
In the course we will explore the crucial role of memory in the formation of national identity, and focus on the troubled remembrance of the Nazi period in Germany and the Fascist period in Italy. Using primary sources in their original language, students will study the ways in which the memory of this difficult past decisively informs contemporary national identity. Topics will include commemorative sites, national symbols, autobiographical memory, traumatic memory, and trans-generational memory. Classes will alternate between a plenary English session and discussions in either German or Italian. This course is equivalent to ITAL 0481 and GRMN 0481. 3 hrs. sem./disc.
ITAL 0101 - Beginning Italian
This course is an introduction to the Italian language that provides a foundation in both spoken and written Italian. Focus on the spoken language encourages rapid mastery of the basic structures and vocabulary of contemporary Italian. The exclusive use of Italian in dialogue situations and vocabulary building encourages the student to develop skills in a personalized context. Conversation and drill are stimulated and fostered through active reference to popular Italian music, authentic props, and slides of Italian everyday life and culture. Students are required to participate in the Italian table. 6 hrs. disc./perf.; 2 hrs. screen
ITAL 0352 - Cinema e Letteratura del 900
Cinema e Letteratura del Novecento: Rappresentazioni dell'Olocausto
In this course we will examine the cinematic and literary representation of the Holocaust in Italian culture. Students will engage in interactive discussions on a variety of literary texts, films, commentaries, testimonies, and theoretical writings. Readings will include works by Giorgio Bassani, Primo Levi, Lorenza Mazzetti, and Liana Millu, and films by such directors as Gillo Pontecorvo, Vittorio De Sica, Francesco Rosi, Roberto Benigni, Andrea & Antonio Frazzi, Ferzan Ozpetek and others. In addition to attending regular class meeting times, students will be expected to attend all film screenings. (ITAL 0252 or waiver) 3 hrs. lect./disc./screens.
ITAL 0451 - Italian Fiction of Intrigue
Italian Fiction of Intrigue: From Past to Present Day
In this course we will study the social and political anxieties expressed, and possibly tamed, by the popular genre of the "giallo" or Italian pulp crime novel. We will focus on two related historical moments - the period of the fascist regime in early 20th century Italy and the so-called "second republic" which stretches from the late 20th century to the present day - in order to explore the transformation of the genre and to examine potential shifts in the social reflection it presents. We will read the works of well-known writers such as Andrea Camilleri and Carlo Lucarelli, as well as the lesser known Alessandro Varaldo and Vasco Mariotti. (ITAL 0355 or equivalent) 3 hrs disc.
ITAL 0550 - Independent Study
Italian faculty as a group will consider and approve requests by qualified juniors and seniors to engage in independent work. Students must submit a prospectus that includes a bibliography of no less than five sources. Interested students should contact members of the Italian faculty before the end of the preceding term to discuss their project and to see if they are available to direct the Independent Study. Students must submit a prospectus with the department chair by the end of the first week of classesfor fall and spring term approvals, by the end the last week of fall semesterfor winter term approvals. Prior to submission, sufficient advance consultation with project directors is required.Junior students are strongly encouraged to consider independent study as preparation for senior honors thesis work.
Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014
ITAL 0755 - Senior Honors
Students majoring in Italian must complete an independent senior project. Italian faculty as a group will consider and approve the proposals, which should be submitted before the last week of the preceding semester. The senior project will be advised by one member of the Italian department, but will be presented to the whole department. Italian honors will be awarded to eligible students depending on the final grade. (Staff)
Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014