Jul 13, 2024  
Undergraduate Record 2009-2010 
Undergraduate Record 2009-2010 [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 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 goal of the major in Spanish is to foster knowledge of the language, literature, history, and culture of the Spanish-speaking world. As students of the humanities, Spanish majors cultivate skills in research, analysis, and communication essential for a lifetime of intellectual engagement within and beyond our national borders.

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 and Latin American cinema; Spanish, Latin American and US Latina women’s writing; Spanish and LatinAmerican culture; and Spanish linguistics. In addition to these specialists, the department regularly invites visiting scholars and Hispanic authors for a semester.  Past authors have included Isabel Allende, Pía Barros, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Antonio  Cisneros, Diamela Eltit, Laura Freixas, Mempo Giardinelli, Liliana Heker, Carmen Martín Gaite, Rosa Montero, Antonio Muñoz Molina, and Antonio Skármeta.

Students There are currently about 350 students majoring in Spanish, and 150 to 200 minors.  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.


Overview The program in Italian Studies at the University of Virginia offers students a rich encounter with Italian literature, language, culture and other disciplines. As part of Thomas Jefferson’s plan for the University, which included Italian in the original School of Modern Languages, Italian has been taught at the University without interruption since its founding. Today students studying Italian can concentrate on perfecting their language skills, as well as craft an Italian major or minor that combines a strong language foundation with interdisciplinary coursework in Italian literature, film, history, art, politics, architecture and other fields. The department offers three kinds of specialization in Italian: a major program leading to the B.A. or B.A. with distinction; a minor concentration of courses; and a graduate course of studies leading to the M.A. in Italian.

Since the number of students participating in the Italian Studies program is relatively small, advanced classes are small and provide a close-knit, focused environment in which to learn. Many Italian majors are also double majors; combinations include Italian and Art History, Government/Foreign Affairs, English, History, Classics, and other foreign languages.

Faculty  The Italian faculty have a wide range of interests as well as a desire to work closely with students. Their expertise in literary and cultural studies from the medieval to modern periods includes the following areas of specialization: Dante studies, Italian cinema, Women’s studies, comparative and interdisciplinary studies, and the use of technology in the humanities. The current faculty includes Deborah Parker, Cristina Della Coletta, Enrico Cesaretti, Adrienne Ward and Emily Scida.

 Students  Enrollment in Italian language classes has increased notably over the past several years, as has the number of Italian majors and minors. Students who pursue an undergraduate degree in Italian have many career options. Prospective employers include the federal government, international businesses, multinational corporations, press agencies, and the World Bank. Work in the field of translation, or in film and media relations is also a viable plan.

 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. The undergraduate degree in Italian also leads to successful entry in professional schools or graduate programs.

Special Resources

The World of Dante Italian Professor Deborah Parker originated and continues to build the first-of-its-kind website devoted to Dante Alighieri, Italy’s most famous medieval author. This unique resource offers students not only the opportunity to learn in depth about Dante, his works and the medieval period, but also gives them the chance to collaborate on the project.

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.

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