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Italian Studies

Why study Italian?

  • If you can speak Italian you speak the international language of art, architecture, music, fashion and design.
  • It is an advantage when seeking employment opportunities both in South Africa and abroad.
  • Italy is the birthplace of the Renaissance, so Italian becomes your passport to a rich world of literature, art and philosophy.
  • Italy, one of the seven most industrialised countries of the world, offers training facilities, bursaries, business opportunities and cultural exchange programmes to students wishing to further their studies in Italy.
  • By studying Italian, you will learn a language useful today in tourism, trade and industry and the creative arts.

BA Degree

Italian is one of the most studied languages in the world. Besides Italy, it is also an official language in, San Marino, Vatican City, some parts of Switzerland, Istria County in Croatia and Slovene Istria in Slovenia. The European Union uses Italian as one of its 24 official and working languages. It is a recognized minority language in even more countries, including Bosnia/Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Romania. Additionally, Italian is the second most common language in Argentina. In certain parts of Brazil, it is a regional language and schools are required to teach it. Italian is also spoken by large immigrant and expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia… and of course South Africa. The bigger Italian community in the African continent resides in South Africa. Great poets like Dante and Petrarch wrote in Italian, and great thinkers like Michelangelo and Machiavelli thought in Italian.

An Italian-speaking ability offers opportunities in almost every sphere of activity such as: Diplomatic Services, International Relations, Journalism, Professional Translation, Education (Teaching), and Arts.

Combines well with the disciplines ofPolitical Science, International Relations, Media Studies, Translation and Interpretation, Drama, and Music.

First Year

Basic Italian Language and Culture

This module places emphasis on the acquisition of basic comprehension, reading and speaking skills based on essential points of grammar and a fundamental vocabulary of at least 500 words, and introduces students to Italian contemporary culture. The cultural component is dealt with through the readings and topics which the students will be expected to research. The process of language and culture acquisition is aided by work done in the computer laboratory, videocassettes and other media that facilitate interactive learning.

Intermediate Italian Language and Culture

This module introduces some of the more complex structures of Italian grammar and develops understanding, oral proficiency and the ability to compose simple communicative texts. By using a contextualised approach to language learning, students are given an up-to-date fresh image of Italy and its people. A variety of media is used to aid both language acquisition and the understanding of Italian culture in the different regions of Italy.

Second Year

Italian Language and Text Production A

This module aims to consolidate the study of Italian Grammar, introduce more complex grammatical structures and expand vocabulary. It provides an overview of the more advanced aspects of syntax and morphology and introduces some notions of stylistics and comparative linguistics. Readings are taken from different language registers and from a selection of contemporary texts. Students are encouraged to watch Italian films that depict diverse aspects of Italian culture to supplement the course. In addition, students are required to present brief seminars on select authors, whose works illustrate the history and development of Italian literature 13th to 17th C.

Italian Language and Text Production B

The aim of this module is to extend students' cultural and linguistic base, increase the range of vocabulary, refine discursive skills, and enhance aural comprehension, note-taking and writing skills. A selection of modern texts is used as a basis for linguistic analysis and for interactive original expression in the target language. Students are introduced to the terminology of literary theory in Italian and the hermeneutic analysis of short prose and poetry texts. The study of the history and development of Italian Literature from the 18th to the 20th C is continued through a series of student seminars.

Third Year

Advanced Italian Composition and Stylistics

This module presents a review of linguistic patterns, complex syntax and morphology and introduces elements of sociolinguistics and stylistics. Expansion of both active and passive vocabulary is an integral part of this module as a large vocabulary base plays a crucial role in receptive and productive skills. The module focuses on developing the student's writing skills, thus it presents useful strategies that can be applied to specific writing tasks, making use of different registers. It also introduces students to basic theoretical principles of translation to and from the target language.

Italian: Negotiating Language

Emphasis is on refining writing and reading skills to enable the student to handle a wide range of texts that include newspaper articles, advertisements and business correspondence. It introduces students to computer language and basic computer skills. Students are exposed to the culture of the work environment in an Italian context. A number of business situations are presented, which range from handling telephone calls, leaving messages, giving instructions and taking minutes, to preparing for job interviews, writing up a CV, and applying for a job in response to particular advertisements. Students will also be expected to develop the necessary skills to translate texts in the different registers and relating to specific sectors (business, tourism, journalism, advertising etc.).

Italian Neo-Realism

This module examines the debate surrounding the concept of Neo-realism and the place of ideology in novels and films of post W.W. II Italy. The neo-realist period proper strictly speaking spans little more than a decade, but it influenced both themes and narrative techniques found in more contemporary literary or cinematic texts. Earlier texts are compared with significant later ones revisiting the same themes. The module also introduces the primary concepts of film criticism and highlights the reciprocal influences of two different narrative genres.

This course is taught in English and texts are read in English (Students majoring in Italian are required to read them in Italian). Films are in Italian with English subtitles.

Selected Topics in Italian Literature

The literary periods, and thus most representative genres, studied in this course varies from year to year. It always involves, however, the detailed study of a selection of literary genres, ranging from the novel, short story, lyric and/or epic poetry, treatise, drama or popular fiction. The emphasis is on critical analysis of texts therefore the module develops close-reading and interpretive skills, applied to different types of literary genres. It expands students' ability to apply different literary theories to the analysis of diverse genres.


Postgraduate Programmes