Please note that course offerings change from year to year.
Language & Culture
Please note that the Beginner Track's Language & Culture course is taught in Italian.
Italian Language and Culture
“The limits of my language means the limits of my world."
The more we are able to speak a language the more we are able to not only communicate but to understand the culture that surrounds it. This beginner course is designed for students who are approaching the study of the Italian language for the first time. Studying in country means that as students acquire the language they will be able to immediately apply it and acquire a more in depth knowledge of Italian culture and society . Through the use of authentic and varied materials students will acquire the lexical, phonological and syntactical competences needed to communicate in language, as well as increase cross-cultural and intercultural competency.
During the course, therefore, much importance is given to developing the students' ability to communicate in Italian. We will begin with simpler situations gradually arriving at more complex structures. The approach to grammar is functional to the context so that grammar becomes a tool for communication. For this reason, active participation in the classroom is very important both in individual and group work. The objective of the teaching method is to try to highlight the resources and capabilities of each student paying attention to the learning style of each one, because the teacher is not only the person that gives information and corrects errors, but he/she is also a guide to discovering the new language, that must be felt as an encouraging challenge.
Please note that instruction in the Beginner Track's content courses is given in English at the beginning of the semester and gradually progresses to instruction in Italian throughout the semester.
Contemporary Italian Society and History
This course investigates the Italian culture by exploring the most salient aspects of the country from different perspectives. We will start with a historical overview that helps make the intricate dynamics of the present more intelligible. Within a detailed examination of both domestic and foreign politics, significant attention will also be paid to the country as a member state of the European Union. Topics to be addressed include economic realities such as the North-South divide and the current Youth unemployment crisis. The course will examine the student protest movement of the 1960s, known as the "Sessantotto", and the social explosions it provoked. We will move on to look at the Catholic Church and its influence on social behaviors as well as the current debate regarding bioethical issues and civil rights. Particular focus will be placed on the social changes that have affected the institution of the Family, the struggles of women for equal rights as well as their role in the society and gender relations. The course will also highlight the political, social and economic implications of organized crime on Italian society. Lastly, we will look at Italy’s transformation from a nation of emigrants to one of immigration and the key-role it plays in the ongoing Migrant emergency.
Philosophies of Art and Beauty
A good portion of what we consider the “artistic legacy of the West” is strongly tied to the city of Florence. It is visible in its monuments, museums and piazzas. There is also a less tangible heredity that belongs to the philosophers and intellectuals (poets, writers), whose names are revered beyond the city walls: starting from Dante and Petrarch and arriving at Leonardo. We will use the city of Florence and its cultural legacy to investigate the history of Western Aesthetic thought delving into central questions of aesthetics such as the nature of aesthetic judgment, the perception of aesthetic objects, and the nature of art objects. The course surveys the approaches to these themes starting from the classics of Western philosophy to then exam the theories of beauty and art from the point of view of religious theologians. We will then arrive at the period known as the Renaissance, deepening our interdisciplinary investigation of literature and the visual arts. We will conclude our journey into the concept of Aesthetics and beauty by asking ourselves: what is considered “beautiful” today and which artists represent this beauty?
*All Beginner Track courses are held at the Middlebury Sede.
Le Lingue dell'Italiano: Viaggio in Italia fra lingua e cultura, passato e presente
Lingua o cultura? Tra gli obiettivi del corso non vi è quello di prendere posizione e sciogliere l’ambiguità che tradizionalmente accompagna i corsi avanzati di italiano; si è invece fermamente convinti che entrambi i poli di questa domanda si compenetrino e si rispondano vicendevolmente in ogni produzione testuale coerente e coesa, come emerge al minimo vaglio di una qualsiasi lettura autentica, sia essa narrativa o giornalistica, o di un ascolto, sia pure esso una canzone o una conversazione radiofonica, vale a dire quanto di più lontano si possa pensare da un oggetto “culturale”.
La seconda dicotomia suggerita dal sottotitolo del corso vorrebbe mantenersi aperta, lasciando che gli incontri con i protagonisti di questo viaggio nel paesaggio culturale italiano suscitino negli studenti un confronto fra gli stimoli del presente e le suggestioni del passato.
L’obiettivo principale di questo corso è invece quello di offrire agli studenti un’immagine il più possibile realistica e attuale di alcuni aspetti della società italiana, attraverso le loro manifestazioni linguistiche e, appunto, culturali, in modo da sviluppare negli apprendenti uno sguardo critico e obiettivo sulla nostra civiltà.