What are Italian Studies?

Italian Studies is a wide-ranging discipline that incorporates many of the departments at UVM, from Political Science to Art History. As such, writing assignments can vary wildly in terms of format, style, and scope. The first thing to do, therefore, is establish whether you want to be looking at this page or one of the other Tutor Tips pages:

Is the class cross-listed with, for example, Religion or World Literature?

  • If – Yes
    • Try checking out what other tutors have to say about writing in those disciplines!
    • This is particularly recommended for Italian Studies courses that are taught in English.
  • If – No, I’m one hundred percent sure this is where I’m supposed to be.
    • In that case, consider the focus of your course, and how that might influence the subject and structure of your paper:
      • If you’re in a literature course, you might be asked to do a close reading of a particular text.
      • If you’re in a history course, maybe you’ll be asked to discuss the effect of a particular historical development on Italian culture.

I’m supposed to write this entire paper in Italian, what do I do?

  • Don’t panic. Your goal with this paper is the same as if it were written in English.
  • Start by writing an outline. This can be in English or Italian, but when you’re writing in a language you don’t know well, it is important to know exactly where you’re going and how to get there.
  • If you have questions about grammar (subjunctive mood, indirect and direct object pronouns, plurals, possessives, etc.) check out Romance Languages professor, Cristina Mazzoni’s grammar pages (new tab).
  • If you need to look up a word or colloquial phrase, try wordreference.com (new tab).
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professor if you are really struggling, and remember that you’ll often be allowed to complete more than one draft.

Remember: Papers in Italian Studies, like in much of the humanities, are intended to make you think about an artifact, whether it’s a work of literature or a historical event, and then discuss your interpretation of said artifact, usually accompanied by the incorporation of other scholarly voices. Simply put, you’re allowed to be somewhat subjective in your interpretation, as long as you have evidence, be it textual or historical, to back you up.