Introduction to Italian Studies Program
The study of Italian language and culture has been part of the University of Toronto curriculum since 1841. At that time Italian was one of the modern languages taught by Professor James Forneri, who also taught French, German and Spanish. After 1887, Italian and Spanish formed a separate department until 1973 when the Department of Italian Studies became independent.
To study Italian is not only to acquire a language, but also to study a rich literature and many-sided culture which have played an important, and sometimes dominant, role in Western civilization. For Canadians, the Italian contribution bears a special significance: the vast influx of Italians has brought changes in our way of life and a living presence to reinforce traditional Italian influences, thus enriching the meaning of the term Canadian.
Italian combines well with other modern languages and literatures, and other programs such as European Studies, Literary Studies, and Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies, but is by no means restricted to these. The study of Italian lends itself very well to interdisciplinarity for students concentrating their undergraduate studies in other disciplines such as music, fine art, history, cinema, political science, or international relations, to name a few.
Italian courses are offered for beginners, for students who understand some Italian or an Italian dialect, and for those with Italian OAC/4U standing or equivalent (i.e. “matriculants”). Oral practice is included in all language courses. Students well qualified in the Italian language may be excused from language courses in First Year. 300- and 400-series courses are available to qualified third- and fourth-year students and may be taken concurrently. These courses offer a wide range of options in language, literature and linguistics. Except for specialists, it is not necessary to take language courses in the 300- and 400-series, but language courses may be taken without literature courses. In addition, there are courses in culture, cinema and theatre that have no language requirement.
In conjunction with Woodsworth College, ITA courses may be taken in Italy at the University of Siena during July and August and this offers students an invaluable opportunity to include an international experience in their undergraduate academic career. A number of bursaries are available for the Siena Program. Students may also apply to take their Third Year in Italy under the International Student Exchange Program.