Francophone, Italian and Germanic Studies: Italian Studies, BA

Italian Studies offers programs in language, literature, music and opera, film, linguistics, cultural studies and civilization for students with or without a background in Italian. At the core of this program is the study of the Italian language and culture(s), understood both in the narrow sense of verbal communication, but also in the larger sense of textual messages: literary, cinematic, historical, art-historical, and mass-cultural. From the beginning to the advanced level, students develop and strengthen linguistic, analytical, and digital skills and achieve linguistic fluency and cultural competence that can be applied to upper-level courses that explore literary, musical, cinematic, historical, art-historical, and mass-cultural works across the centuries.

The department strongly encourages study abroad in Italy during Summer (Penn in Florence) and sponsors several semester/year programs in Bologna, Milan (Bocconi), and Rome. Advanced language and content courses taken abroad may count toward the FIGS major as well as the minor and the certificate in Italian.

The minimum total course units for graduation in this major is 32. Double majors may entail more course units.

For information about the General Education requirements, please visit the College of Arts & Sciences Curriculum page.

College General Education Requirements and Free Elective
Foundational Approaches + Sectors 1 + Free Electivces20
Major Requirements
FIGS 1000Seeing Differently: Transcultural Approaches to Francophone, Italian, and Germanic Studies1
ITAL 0400Intermediate Italian II1
ITAL 1000Advanced Italian I1
Advanced Language1
Advanced Italian II
Business Italian
Business Italian: Italian for Special Purposes
Business Italian: Italian for Professions
Business Italian: Translation and Interpreting
Intensive Italian, Culture, and Conversation - Penn in Florence
Masterpieces-Italian Literature/Seminars2
Best Sellers in Italian Literature
Italian Seminars 3000 Level or Higher
Dante's Divine Comedy
Italian American Studies
Contemporary Italy
Italian Film and Media Studies
Race and Ethnicity in Italy
Italian Gender Studies
Italian Fashion
Italian Visual Studies
Italian Foods and Cultures
Italian Literature
Italian Innovations
Italian Renaissance Studies
Mediterranean Studies
Italian Performance Studies
Italian Science and Philosophy
Italian Material Studies
Italian Digital Humanities
Italian Music
Italian Diaspora Studies
Additional Electives 26
Additional courses taught in Italian at the 1000-level or higher
Courses taught in Italian at approved study abroad programs
Independent Study
Independent Study
Independent Study
Honors Research Project
Honors Thesis
First-Year Seminars
Representations of Rome in Film and Literature (1848-present) - First Year Seminar
Desire and Deception in Medieval Erotic Literature
First-Year Seminar: Italian Histories
First-Year Seminar: Italian Music
First-Year Seminar: Italian American Studies
First-Year Seminar: Contemporary Italy
First-Year Seminar: Italian Film and Media Studies
First-Year Seminar: Race and Ethnicity in Italy
First-Year Seminar: Italian Gender Studies
First-Year Seminar: Italian Fashion
First-Year Seminar: Italian Visual Studies
First-Year Seminar: Italian Foods and Cultures
First-Year Seminar: Italian Literature
First-Year Seminar: Italian Innovations
Major-related courses taught in English or other languages, either in FIGS or in other departments
Hellenistic and Roman Art and Artifact
Roman Architecture and Urbanism
Classical Mythology in the Western Tradition
Roman Sculpture
Hellenistic Art and Spectacle
Hellenistic Cities Seminar
Topics In Medieval and Renaissance Art
Caravaggio Seminar
High Renaissance Seminar
Southern Baroque Art Seminar
Ancient Rome
Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece and Rome
Citizenship, Belonging and Exclusion in the Roman World
Introduction to Mediterranean Archaeology
Greek & Roman Mythology
Dangerous Books of Antiquity
Foreigners in Rome
Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome
Medieval Literature and Culture
Chaucer: Poetry, Voice, and Interpretation
Chaucer Seminar
Drama to 1660 Seminar
Europe: From Fall of Rome to Age of Exploration
Machiavelli and Modern Political Thought
Composers: Opera Composers 1600-1900
Composers: Mozart/DaPonte
History of Opera
Film Music in Post 1950 Italy
Florence Myth and History
Italian History on Screen: How Movies Tell the Story of Italy
Sicily on Page and Screen
Italian History on the Table
Fascist Cinemas
Film Sound and Film Music
Florence in History
The City of Rome: From Constantine to the Borgias
Food and Diet in Early Europe: Farm to Table in the Renaissance
Cultura E Letteratura
Black Italy: Transnational Identities and Narratives in Afro-Italian Literature
Introduction to Italian Cinema
Contemporary Italy: Pop Culture, Politics, and Peninsular Identity
Modern Italian Culture
Florence Throughout the Centuries
Titian and Venetian Painting
Michelangelo and the Art of the Italian Renaissance
Italian Theater
Italian Scandals
Palermo: Urban Migration, the Built Environment, and Global Justice
Palermo: Empires, Mafia, and Migration
Queer Cinema
Rome in Cinema: Representations of The Eternal City
Mafia in the Movies
Italian Translation
Historical Eras and Topics: Earlier Periods
Baroque Opera from Monteverdi to Gluck
The Holocaust in Italian Literature and Film
BFS--Med/Red Dante in English: Creative Responses to the Divine Comedy
Caravaggio Seminar
Renaissance Europe
French & Italian Modern Horror
Introduction to Paleography & Book History
Myth Through Time and in Time Seminar
Medieval Italian Literature
Dante's Commedia I
After Dante’s Divine Comedy: Transmission and Material Form, Creative Adaptation and Performance
Topics: Renaissance Culture
Transalpine Tensions: Franco-Italian Rivalries in the Renaissance
Digital Humanities
Modern/Contemporary Italian Culture
Topics: Literature and Film
Post-Human Landscapes
20th-Century Italian Fiction and Film
Italian Thought
Machiavelli’s Political Thought and its Modern Readers
Pasolini and Calvino
Theories of Nationalism
Politics of Post War Western Europe
The European Union
Comparative Politics of the Welfare State
Religions of the West
Christian Thought From 1000 to 1800
Coursework in another foreign language relevant to the student's interests.
Total Course Units32

You may count no more than one course toward both a Major and a Sector requirement. For Exceptions, check the Policy Statement.


The remaining 6 c.u. of electives can be any combination of:

  • Additional courses taught in Italian at the 1000-level or higher.
  • Courses taught in Italian at approved study abroad programs.
  • ITAL 3999/4999: Independent Study.
  • ITAL 4000: Honors Research Project.
  • A maximum of 3 courses taught in English or other languages, including:
    • Major-related courses taught in English or other languages, either in FIGS or in other departments.
    • Coursework in another foreign language relevant to the student’s interests.
    • First-Year Seminars counted retroactively.
  • In order to count additional courses taught in English or other languages toward the concentration, students must arrange an Italian component with the professor.


Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.4 in the Major.

ITAL 4000Honors Thesis1

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2024 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.