Dec 05, 2020  
Undergraduate Record 2007-2008 
Undergraduate Record 2007-2008 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese Languages and Literatures

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115 Wilson Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400777
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4777
(434) 924-7159 Fax: (434) 924-7160


Overview The University of Virginia is recognized as a leading national center for the study of languages and literature. Thomas Jefferson, in his original plan for the University, established a School of Modern Languages for the study of the language, literature, and culture of each five areas: Anglo-Saxon, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. It should come as no surprise that Italian has been taught at the University without interruption since its founding. Students studying in Italian can choose to concentrate on language and linguistics or literature and culture, or some combination of the two. Through systematic analysis, students learn the way language works as well as a means of promoting the successful exchange between people, businesses, and governments.

Faculty The faculty of the Italian department has a wide range of interests as well as a desire to work closely with students. Since the number of students actually majoring in Italian is relatively small, advanced classes are small, and there is a close-knit environment in which to learn.

The current faculty includes Deborah Parker, Cristina Della Coletta, Adrienne Ward, and Enrico Cesaretti.

Students Enrollment in Italian classes has increased threefold during the past five years to reach the current number of 300 per academic term. Many of the students who major in Italian are double majors; combinations include Italian and classics, Spanish, English, government/foreign affairs, art history, and music.

Students who concentrate on Italian studies have many options leading to vocational choices: teaching in secondary schools; applying for a great variety of vocational positions; continuing studies in professional schools or graduate programs; translating texts; or working in film or media relations.

Numerous Italian graduates find employment in school systems. The teaching of Italian in high schools has vastly increased over the past decade. The trend is likely to continue, considering the recent upward turn in college enrollments in Italian. College employment prospects for the specialist in Italian language and literature are outstanding. A majority of Italian majors find employment outside the field of education. Prospective employers include the federal government, international businesses, multinational corporations, press agencies, and the World Bank.

Special Resources

Tavola Italiana The Tavola Italiana is a weekly informal get-together of students and faculty for conversation and conviviality.

Circolo Italiano This student-run club has organized film showings, field trips to museum exhibitions in Washington, and volunteer tutoring.

Study Abroad While the department does not sponsor a program of study in Italy, many students spend at least part of their junior year abroad. The faculty aid in the choice of a program and arrange for the transfer of credit.


Overview In 1787 Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Spanish. Bestow great attention on this and endeavor to acquire an accurate knowledge of it. Our future connection with Spain and Spanish American will render that language a valuable acquisition.” Jefferson’s words have never rung more true than they do in today’s shrinking world. The major in Spanish is designed to develop a student’s proficiency in the language while assuring that he or she receives a strong background in linguistics, literature, culture or a combination of these areas. All courses are taught in Spanish.

Faculty Spanish majors have access to a nationally-ranked group of faculty members whose expertise ranges across a wide range of areas: peninsular literature from the medieval to the modern periods; Latin American literature from Colonial times to the present; Portuguese and Brazilian literature; Spanish cinema; Hispanic women’s writing; Spanish and Latin-American culture; and Hispanic linguistics. In addition to these specialists, the department regularly invites a distinguished visiting professor or Hispanic author for a semester (recent visitors have included Isabel Allende, Mempo Giardinelli, Rosa Montero, Lou Charnon-Deutsch, Antonio Munoz Molina, and Antonio Cisneros.

Students There are currently more than 150 students majoring in Spanish. More than half of these are double majors. The most popular combinations with the Spanish major include Latin American studies, Politics, or other languages such as French or Italian. Many Spanish majors go on to graduate or professional school to become lawyers, doctors and educators. Others go directly into the working world, finding their Spanish major useful for careers in business, the government, and international agencies.

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