European Studies (Italian Studies)

Figure of thought, field of imagination, multitude of languages:  Europe takes many forms in the research at Romance Studies.  Generations of colleagues have created an internationally recognized body of work, and today on campus, European studies offer a framework for key debates in the humanities and social sciences. Students will discover a rich variety of critical projects in aesthetics and poetics, cultural and intellectual history, political theory, and psychology among other sciences. Each is explored through French, Spanish, and Italian or through any inventive combination of them. The question of migrant and so-called minority traditions such as Galician is also vital. Some ten years ago, graduate students helped to pioneer a model of Romance Studies conjoining, for example, Italian and Spanish, European and Latin American issues, French and Italian. Our strengths continue to deepen in this transcultural, transhistorical mode.  

For such constantly mutating ideas of Europe, the faculty has developed several frames of analysis: from Mediterranean to transAtlantic, from Ottoman to Maghrebine, all along its mythical North-South axis. The challenge in all our investigations: to experiment with major paradigms of critical thinking and artistic creation; this across an array of media and genres including digital and other avant-garde writing, manuscript folios, performance art, photography. Recent seminars explore: Gramsci’s notion of the subaltern; revolution in the novel; travel narrative in the Mediterranean world;  the afterlives of premodern Italian and French fiction; mass culture and the Spanish civil war; Jacques Rancière; the question of cultural memory; visuality and New Wave film, gender and modernism.  Students are encouraged to design their own conceptual frameworks and put them to the test through the process of writing a thesis.

European studies operates as a collaborative venture.  Numerous critics, writers, and artists participate in our seminars so that students have the opportunity from their first semester on campus to debate with leading thinkers in the field. Working groups also provide a forum for discussion with other colleagues pursuing European questions in History and Art, among other disciplines. As graduate students begin their research, links to universities and centers in Europe connect them to colleagues in Barcelona, Bologna, Madrid, Paris. Exchange agreements with the Ecole Normale Supérieure, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences sociales, make a year’s research time abroad an integral part of the program.