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Italian Studies

 

The Program

The Italian Studies Graduate Program at the University of Texas at Austin is a broad-based, interdisciplinary program designed to offer students maximum flexibility in course selection, research, pedagogical training, and scholarly concentration. Housed in the Department of French and Italian but integrally drawing on faculty with specializations in Italian Studies from across the university, the program leads to both the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, with the M.A. conceived as a step toward the Ph.D. rather than as a terminal professional degree.

Core courses in Italian literature, film, history, art, political theory, anthropology, and culture are taught by Italian professors in the Department of French and Italian and those based in such kindred disciplines as Anthropology, Archeology, Architecture, Art History, Classics, Comparative Literature, English, Ethnomusicology, Film Studies, Government, History, Linguistics, and Religious Studies. Students in the program therefore benefit from ample training in specialized Italian courses as well as from the intellectually stimulating and integrated experience of being in the classroom with graduate students from other departments. In addition to gaining extensive experience in language teaching, they have opportunities to teach content-rich discussion classes and to use and contribute to innovative works of digital scholarship and pedagogy.

For today's competitive job market, in which interdisciplinary, pedagogical, and digital skills are at a professional premium, graduates of the program will be exceptionally well prepared: they will be fully trained in the various methods of advanced scholarly research grounded in interconnected disciplines and appropriately equipped to succeed in general and specialized college/university teaching as well as in related career tracks.

Admissions 

Admission to the doctoral program is based on the candidate’s potential for original, independent, interdisciplinary work in Italian Studies. An applicant’s college record should include substantial advanced coursework in Italian. Students already holding an M.A. are welcome to apply. 

Support

The Italian graduate program offers packages of financial support in the form of Teaching Assistantships (TAs) and Assistant Instructorships (AIs), while departmental and university-wide recruitment, research, and dissertation fellowships are also available. Additionally, the Italian faculty, who have collectively won virtually all the major grants in the field (NEH, ACLS, Rome Prize, Villa I Tatti, Delmas, and Guggenheim, among others), actively mentor our graduate students in applying for external fellowships: we envision grant-writing as a key, ongoing feature of professional training and support.

Resources

The General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin, among the top ten research libraries in the U.S. and Canada, is extremely well furnished with primary and secondary source materials in all areas dedicated to Italy. Manuscripts, maps, prints, drawings, paintings, and rare books on Italian subjects from the holdings of the renowned Harry Ransom Center and the Blanton Museum of Art also provide unprecedented research opportunities for our graduate students. 

Faculty

Core Faculty Associated with Italian Studies

  • Daniela Bini (University of Texas at Austin), French and Italian 
  • Douglas Biow (Johns Hopkins University), French and Italian, with a courtesy appointment in History
  • Paola Bonifazio (New York University), French and Italian
  • Alison K. Frazier (Columbia University), History, with a courtesy appointment in French and Italian
  • Guy P. Raffa (Indiana University), French and Italian
  • Wayne A. Rebhorn (Yale University), English, with a courtesy appointment in French and Italian
  • Maurizio Viroli (European University Institute), Government, with a courtesy appointment in French and Italian
  • Louis A. Waldman (The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University), Art History, with a courtesy appointment in French and Italian

Affiliated Faculty

  • Miroslava M. Beneš (Yale University), Architecture
  • Joseph Coleman Carter (Princeton University), Classics
  • John R. Clarke (Yale University) Art History
  • Penelope J. Davies (Yale University), Art History
  • Andrew Dell'Antonio (University of California at Berkeley), Music
  • Robert A. DeSimone (University of Washington), Music
  • Luisa Nardini (Universitá degli Studi "La Sapienza"), Music
  • Circe Sturm (University of California at Davis), Anthropology
  • Rabun M. Taylor (University of Minnesota), Classics
  • Hannah Wojciehowski (Yale University), English

Download the Graduate Program Brochure for Italian Studies (PDF)

ALBERO DELLA PACE 2021 - ANDREA ROGGI

ALBERO DELLA PACE 2021 - Andrea Roggi. Sculture found on via dei Georgofoli in Florence, Italy and near the Uffizi.

The Program

The Italian Studies Graduate Program at the University of Texas at Austin is a broad-based, interdisciplinary program designed to offer students maximum flexibility in course selection, research, scholary concentration, and pedagogical training. Housed in the Department of French and Italian but integrally drawing on faculty with specializations in Italian Studies from across the university, the program leads to both the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, with the M.A. conceived as a step toward the Ph.D. rather than as a terminal professional degree.

Core courses in Italian studies are taught by the expertise of faculty members Douglas Biow (Renaissance literary and cultural history), Paola Bonifazio, (film and media studies, postwar Italian culture), Rebecca Falkoff (modern Italian Studies, comparative Literature and theory, environmental and medical humanities), Valerie McGuire (modern Italian history and culture, postcolonial studies, Mediterranean Studies studies), and Cinzia Russi (Italian and Romance linguistics, history of the language).

Students are also encouraged to take courses offered by our Affiliated Faculty whose teaching and research interests involve Italy: Mirka Benes (Architecture), John Clarke (Art History), Penelope Davies (Art History), Andrew Dell’Antonio (Music), Alison Frazier (History), Madeline McMahon (History), Luisa Nardini (Music), Circe Sturm (Anthropology), Rabun Taylor (Classics), Maurizio Viroli (Government), and Hannah Wojciehowski (English).

Graduate students gain extensive experience in language teaching, contributing to the development of innovative pedagogical materials and projects in the digital humanities. They also have opportunities to teach content courses in collaboration with a faculty member. Ph.D. Candidates are encouraged to design and teach courses in their area of expertise. 

Graduates of our program are exceptionally well prepared for today's competitive job market, in which interdisciplinary, pedagogical, and digital skills are at a professional premium. Our alumni are trained in advanced interdisciplinary research methodologies and other skills required for success in academic roles as well as in a range of related career paths.

Admissions 

Admission to the doctoral program is based on the candidate’s potential for original, independent, interdisciplinary work in Italian Studies. An applicant’s college record should include substantial advanced coursework in Italian. Students already holding an M.A. are welcome to apply. 

Support

The Department offers all admitted students six-year funding packages, a combination of fellowships and academic employment. Additionally, the Italian faculty, who have collectively won virtually all the major grants in the field (NEH, ACLS, Rome Prize, Villa I Tatti, Delmas, and Guggenheim, among others), actively mentor our graduate students in applying for external fellowships: we envision grant-writing as a key, ongoing feature of professional training and support.

Graduate students have funded opportunities to attend and present at professional conferences. They have worked on research projects and publications with faculty, that have resulted in edited volumes as well as conferences and symposia hosted on our campus. They have opportunities to gain experience as supporting editors at academic journals such as gender/sexuality/italy and Nineteenth-Century Contexts. The Department’s French and Italian Graduate Student Organization (FIGSO) organized several events including our Speaker Series where students invite scholars in their field to come talk with the Department about their research. You can find more information about our upcoming Speaker Series on our events page.

Resources

The University of Texas Libraries, among the top research libraries in the world, is well furnished with primary and secondary source materials in Italian language, history, literature, and film. The Fine Arts Library and the Architecture and Planning Library both have excellent holdings on Italian arts and culture, and the Visual Resources Collections contain over 50,000 slides of Italian artwork. Manuscripts and rare books on Italian subjects from the holdings of the renowned Harry Ransom Center provide unrivaled research opportunities for Italian Studies graduate students: holdings include medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, incunabula, and many other works. The HRC holdings also include the David O. Selznick Collection, which holds unique documents pertaining to Italian cinema, and “The Italian Project,” a collection of original manuscripts by prominent authors including Carlo Levi and Paolo Volponi, as well as audio recordings of interviews with Italian public figures conducted in the 1960s.  The Suida-Manning Collection, one of the finest university collections of Renaissance and Baroque art in the United States, is another world-class resource for graduate work in Italian Studies. Housed in the Blanton Museum of Art, this collection includes approximately 250 paintings, 400 drawings, and 50 sculptures spanning the fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries, with exceptional depth in sixteenth- through eighteenth-century Italian art. 

Program Milestones

Student are expected to take courses that provide a thorough understanding of Italian literature, cinema, history, and culture. To this end, they will take a minimum of 9 hours (usually three courses) per semester during their first three year of coursework. If a student enters the program and already holds an M.A. in Italian or in a related area, then they may be eligible to take less coursework; that determination will be made in consultation with the Graduate Advisor. In a given semester, students typically take two courses taught in Italian Studies (course with and ITL designation) and a third course in a relevant field outside the department.

Coursework may include one three-hour upper division course approved by the Graduate Advisor. Students must take at least eighteen hours of graduate coursework offered in Italian Studies, and six to nine graduate-level hours in a supporting subject or subject in another program, department, or college. Italian Studies graduate students must also take CL 385 (Theories of Literary Criticism) or another graduate course on critical/literary theory approved by the Graduate Advisor.

With the help of the Graduate Advisor, each student is expected to design and individual course of study and define a primary subject and supporting subject(s) of study. At least nine hours of coursework must be in a supporting subject.

In the fall semester of year four, at the latest, students who entered with a B.A. are expected to register for a 3-credit comprehensive exam prep course (ITL 395 or the equivalent) to begin preparing for the Comprehensive Examination. Students who entered with an M.A. in Italian or a related area will be expected to register for a 3-credit comprehensive exam preparation course (ITL 395 or the equivalent) in the spring semester of year three, at the latest. After completing all required coursework and before entering candidacy, students enroll in ITL 395 or an equivalent.

Language Competency Requirements: Before completion of the second year, students must also demonstrate reading competence in one foreign language other than Italian by earning a grade of at least ‘B’ in a reading course approved by the Graduate Advisor, in a second-year college language course, or on an examination approved by the Graduate Advisor.

Students entering the program with an M.A. are admitted directly into the Ph.D. program. Students entering with a B.A. who are completing their first two years of graduate coursework in Italian Studies here and who wish to continue toward the Ph.D. will demonstrate their competency to continue toward the Ph.D. through coursework, research, and TA performance. Students must submit a request (in writing) to the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee, GSC, to be considered for admission and to continue into the doctoral program. In evaluating such requests, the Committee will take into account the student’s progress, defined in part by coursework (papers, examinations, classroom performance), course grades, and work as a TA or research assistant. The request must include one scholarly paper (ideally 15-20 pages), in Italian or English, from a completed course and a brief statement (2-3 pages) discussing the applicant’s experience in the Italian Studies graduate program and plans for completing the doctoral degree. The Committee will also take into consideration input from faculty members in the student’s core and supporting area, as well as input provided by the student’s own performance report. The applicant must submit the request to the GSC Chair (by a date determined in consultation with the Graduate Advisor) – typically by the first Monday following spring break of year two in the program. The entire GSC will then have an opportunity to consider the materials, and the student will be notified of the decision within one month of requesting admission.

When the student has fulfilled all Ph.D. coursework and the foreign language requirement, they will begin working on their comprehensive examination. Typically, this will begin, at the latest, in the spring semester of year 4 for those who entered with a B.A. or in the spring semester of year 3 for those who entered with an M.A.

Each Ph.D. candidate forms an examining committee chaired by the Italian Studies professor most likely to direct the student's dissertation research. The student, in consultation with this chair, seeks three other professors to serve on the examining committee. At least two of the four committee members must be Italian Studies faculty in the department of French and Italian, and at least one member must be from another department or program. The candidate must obtain the signatures of the chair and the other three committee members by the beginning of the spring semester of year 4 (year 3 for students entering with an M.A.)—by February 1 at the latest.

The goal of the Comprehensive Exam is to assess the breadth and depth of the student’s competency in Italian Studies, and to assist in the conception and initial research stages of a likely dissertation project. To this end, the exam covers three major areas. The first two areas focus primarily on Italian literary studies, with one area covering major literary and critical works for the period 1200-1750 and the second area covering major literary, cinematic and critical works for the period 1750 to the present. The Italian Studies faculty will provided the student with reading lists for these two areas in advance. For the third area of the exam, the candidate—in consultation with the committee chair—identifies a special topic related to the anticipated dissertation project. "Topic" here is broadly defined, and may refer to various areas essential to the student's research, including (but not limited to) a particular area of critical theory or philosophy; a historical or socio-political event or issue; a specific genre, discipline, or cultural medium. It is probable, though not necessary, that this third area of the exam corresponds in a significant way to supporting courses taken outside the department. It is the student's responsibility to consult with relevant faculty to form the reading list for this third area of the exam and to obtain the committee chair's approval by March 15 of year 4 (year 3 for students entering with an M.A.).

The candidate continues to prepare for the exam over the summer; the committee chair, in consultation with the student and the other committee members, sets an exam period for the end of the summer or the beginning of the fall semester of year 5 (year 4 for students entering with an M.A.). By September 15 at the latest, the student is given six questions (two per area) in the form of a take-home exam: the student provides written responses (1000-1500 words per response) to three questions, one for each area of the exam. Within 72 hours of receiving the questions, the student submits the responses to the committee chair (hardcopy and electronically), who then distributes them to the rest of the committee. The committee meets with the student 1-2 weeks later (October 1 at the latest) for the oral portion of the exam. During this oral exam, expected to last two hours, committee members may ask questions based not only on the candidate's written responses but also on the unselected questions and on any part of the reading lists. The candidate is also expected to discuss how the reading lists and written responses (for area 3 in particular) relate to likely dissertation research.

Students who do not successfully pass the Comprehensive Examination may retake it (in whole or in part, at the discretion of the examining committee) at the end of the fall semester of year 5 (year 4 for students entering with an M.A.).  Only one retake is allowed.

After passing the Comprehensive Exam, the student, working with the dissertation advisor, will write a dissertation prospectus of a length agreed upon with the dissertation committee (generally from 15-25 pages). The prospectus should be a carefully argued written presentation of the basis for the student’s dissertation research. It should explain the significance of the project in relation to work in the field, justify the research methodology or approach, and set forth the sources to be examined and the critical questions to be addressed. This should be followed by brief summaries of each chapter. The prospectus should demonstrate the student’s ability to undertake research on a topic within the context of current scholarship and critical methodologies, and give evidence of the student’s breadth of knowledge and potential for future success as a scholar.

The dissertation prospectus must be presented in written form and orally defended to the student’s dissertation committee. This is typically done by the end of the semester following successful completion of the Comprehensive Exam. Once the prospectus is successfully defended, the student will apply to be admitted to doctoral candidacy and begin working on the dissertation.

When the student has fulfilled all Ph.D. coursework and foreign language requirement, has passed the Comprehensive Examination, has defended the prospectus, and has chosen a dissertation director and supervising committee of at least three other faculty members, then he or she will file for candidacy with the Graduate School and begin registering for the dissertation course. The student must fill out the Graduate School’s Doctoral Candidacy Application online to obtain approval of the dissertation committee chair, the Graduate Advisor, the Graduate Studies Committee Chair of the program, and the Graduate Dean.

The purpose of the dissertation is to make a substantial contribution to existing scholarship in the field. Italian Studies students in candidacy are expect to research and write their dissertations over the next one and a half years, thus enabling them to defend their dissertation by the end of their sixth year in the program, at the latest. The Graduate School requires that dissertation be written in English, unless special permission is granted prior to undertaking the project. Progress on the dissertation is regularly monitored. The dissertation must be completed and defended within three years admission to candidacy. If it is not, the Graduate Studies Committee will review the student’s case to determine if an extension will be granted.

The supervisory committee is responsible for approving the dissertation, which the student defends in an oral examination between one and two hours in length. This examination is conducted by the dissertation committee (only one member is allowed to be absent from the defense) and is open to the university community. The defense covers the dissertation, the general field of the dissertation and other parts of the student’s program, as determined by the committee. Forms are available from the Graduate School both to apply for the granting of the Ph.D. and to request the official scheduling of the dissertation defense (called the “Final Oral”). The dissertation committee should be given at least one month to read the dissertation before the Final Oral. The student should work with the Graduate Coordinator to arrange a date, time, and place to conduct the defense.

Faculty

Core Faculty Associated with Italian Studies

  • Daniela Bini (University of Texas at Austin), Emeritus Faculty, French and Italian 
  • Douglas Biow (Johns Hopkins University), French and Italian, with a courtesy appointment in History
  • Paola Bonifazio (New York University), French and Italian
  • Rebecca Falkoff (University of California, Berkeley), French and Italian
  • Alison K. Frazier (Columbia University), History, with a courtesy appointment in French and Italian
  • Valerie McGuire (New York University), French and Italian
  • Guy P. Raffa (Indiana University), Emeritus Faculty, French and Italian
  • Maurizio Viroli (European University Institute), Government, with a courtesy appointment in French and Italian

Affiliated Faculty

  • Mirka M. Beneš (Yale University), Architecture
  • John R. Clarke (Yale University) Art History
  • Penelope J. Davies (Yale University), Art History
  • Andrew Dell'Antonio (University of California, Berkeley), Music
  • Robert A. DeSimone (University of Washington), Music
  • Maddy McMahon (Princeton University), History
  • Luisa Nardini (Universitá degli Studi "La Sapienza"), Music
  • Circe Sturm (University of California at Davis), Anthropology
  • Rabun M. Taylor (University of Minnesota), Classics
  • Hannah Wojciehowski (Yale University), English

Download the Graduate Program Brochure for Italian Studies (PDF)

Contacts

Graduate Coordinator
Taylor Hubbard
512-471-5712

Graduate Advisor, Italian Studies
Rebecca Falkoff, PhD