About Italian

Our Program and Courses

You can major or minor in Italian at F&M. You’ll study the Italian language, as well as Italian art, literature, cuisine, theatre, history, and more, allowing you to reflect critically on Italy’s unique position in global society. 

A major in Italian follows one of two tracks: Italian or Italian Studies. The Italian track is taught entirely in the Italian language, offering the greatest opportunity for refining, using, and being exposed to the language as a cultural form shaped by its political, historical, literary, artistic, and social contexts. The Italian Studies track allows you to take two courses for the major outside of the field. In these two courses, taught in English, you can approach Italian history and culture through the lenses of art history, classics, comparative literature, history, or music.

By the time you graduate, you will: 

  • Have attained proficiency in Italian and be able to communicate effectively and cohesively in both written and oral discourse
  • Be able to demonstrate a solid knowledge of Italy’s present and past contributions to literature, cinema, the arts, and politics
  • Be able to present, connect, and analyze major Italian literary texts in the contexts in which they were written while discussing the perspectives they represent
  • Have learned modes of critical analysis that enhance your independent inquiry
  • Be able to build linguistic, cultural, and cross-cultural competence

Italian Language Placement Exam

If you’re admitted to F&M and plan to study Italian, you must complete a language placement exam. You’ll take this exam the summer before you arrive on campus. 

Wondering what an Italian course is like? Take a look at our course catalog to explore what’s available to you.

Our Faculty and Staff

Marco Di Giulio

Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature, Program Chair of Judaic Studies

Judaic Studies; Public Health

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Giovanna Faleschini Lerner

Professor of Italian, Program Chair of Comparative Literary Studies

Africana Studies; Comparative Literary Studies; Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

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Maya Greenshpan

Hebrew and Italian Language Teaching Fellow

Judaic Studies

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Scott Lerner

Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor of Humanities and French and Italian, Department Chair of Italian Studies & Hebrew

Comparative Literary Studies; French; Judaic Studies

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Shari Vegso

Academic Department Coordinator

Chinese Language Program; Comparative Literary Studies; French; German and Russian Studies; International Studies; Italian Studies and Hebrew; Japanese Language Program; Latin American Studies; Spanish

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Learning Outside the Classroom

Our Italian professors are committed to tailoring your education to your interests and goals, and helping you discover research and study-abroad opportunities to broaden your understanding of the discipline. 

Off-Campus Study

As a student of Italian, you’re strongly encouraged to study abroad and experience Italian culture and language firsthand. F&M offers pre-approved study-abroad programs throughout Italy, including in Florence, Milan, Padua, and Perugia. You may embark on a summer-, semester-, or year-long experience. You’ll also have an opportunity to engage in F&M’s six-week Summer Program in Italian, held primarily in Vicchio del Mugello, a small town in Tuscany. The Italian department also offers a summer travel award to a sophomore who has declared an Italian major or minor and wants to pursue research or other learning opportunities in Italy.
Explore off-campus study at F&M

Research Opportunities

Every student at F&M has extraordinary opportunities to engage in independent or faculty-led research. Recent Italian students have examined the lifestyle of local fishermen in a picturesque Italian coastal town, the influence of patron saints on the personalities of Italian towns and villages, and feminist reactions to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s two decades of political power.
Explore research at F&M

Gamma Kappa Alpha National Italian Honor Society

F&M hosts a chapter of Gamma Kappa Alpha (GKA), the National Italian Honor Society. The purpose of GKA is to acknowledge superior academic performance in the field of Italian language, literature and culture. Each year, outstanding students of Italian are invited to become a member of the society during an induction ceremony held on campus.

Success Beyond F&M

What happens after you graduate with a degree in Italian? The interpretive skills and creative thinking abilities you gain can be applied toward any post-college plan.

Graduate School

Studying Italian at F&M serves as an excellent foundation for a wide range of graduate programs. Many graduates go on to pursue advanced degrees in business, law, public administration, and the healing arts.

Career Paths

Recent graduates of Italian at F&M have pursued careers in government and diplomatic service, music and art, and travel and tourism. Many also find success in research and education, exploring and teaching history, art history, classics, comparative literature, urban studies, film studies, architecture, and more.  

Exploring Sustainable Food Systems in Italy

Jonathan Izzo ’24, an environmental studies major and Italian minor, combined his twin passions for his family’s Italian heritage and for sustainable food systems by spending a semester studying in Perugia, Italy. “I was volunteering at a local urban garden, but for the most part, it was an educational program looking around Italy at sustainable food systems that exist there,” Izzo said. Izzo compiled his research into a 20-page thesis written in Italian. “My thesis is about the slow-food movement, looking into sustainable, traditional practices like preserving traditional culture of food practices,” he said.

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Italian Fashion Internship Provides Perfect Fit

When Lauren Arnold '24 heard about the opportunity to intern at a fashion company in Italy, it truly was the perfect fit. She saw the opportunity to work for Fashion Box in Asolo, Italy, as an unbeatable chance to merge her lifelong passion and major. After studying abroad in Tuscany the previous summer, Arnold also felt confident with her language and cultural knowledge upon entering an Italian workplace.

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Related Fields of Study

Art History

What does art of the past tell us about the transformation of visual and material experience over time? By studying art history at F&M, you’ll actively engage with this living dimension of the past through its artifacts, images, architecture, and relevant texts.

Classics

Immerse yourself in a rich artistic and intellectual tradition. By studying Classics at F&M, you’ll gain a deep understanding of the ancient Mediterranean while building an appreciation of its lasting legacies, empowering you to become a productive and thoughtful citizen in today’s rapidly changing world.

History

Embark on an enriching journey through time, exploring a vast range of geographic regions, topical themes, and time periods. By studying history at F&M, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of history and historical processes, and develop keen insight into how they have shaped the present and will influence the future.

Our Students & Alumni in the Spotlight

May 23, 2024

Ten Faculty Earn Tenure, Promotion

At its May meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed the recommendations of the Professional Standards Committee and the Provost, granting four F&M faculty tenure and promotion to associate professor, while six others were promoted to full professor.

May 7, 2024

Student Explores Food in Italian Slow-Food Culture

Franklin & Marshall College senior Jonathan Izzo combined his twin passions for his family’s Italian heritage and for sustainable food systems to cap his academic career.

February 27, 2023

Alumni Spotlight: Every Stitch Tells a Story

It's not every day you wear hoops skirts, bustles and bonnets to work — let alone hand-stitch them. But for Franklin & Marshall College alum Rachel Sheffield, it's just another day on the job. Sheffield, an American studies major and Italian minor, is the lead interpreter and historic clothing coordinator at First State Heritage Park in Dover, Del.