Jul 24, 2024  
Undergraduate Record 2021-2022 
Undergraduate Record 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese Languages and Literatures

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444 New Cabell 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 Latin American 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, Antonio Skármeta and Ana Maria Shua.

Students There are currently over 200 students majoring in Spanish. 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 Studies major or minor that combines a strong language and literary foundation with interdisciplinary coursework in Italian film, history, media, art, politics, architecture and other fields. The department allows students to specialize in Italian through either a major program leading to the B.A. or B.A. with distinction, or a minor concentration of courses.;

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 Studies majors are also double majors; combinations include: Italian and Government/Foreign Affairs, Media, Art History, English, History, Classics, and other foreign languages and literatures.

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  and gender studies, comparative and interdisciplinary studies, and the use of technology in the humanities. The current faculty includes Enrico Cesaretti, Deborah Parker, Emily Scida and Adrienne Ward.

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 Studies have many career options. Prospective employers include international businesses, multinational corporations, press agencies, the federal government, and the World Bank. Work in the arts and design fields, as well as, in film and media relations is also a viable plan. The undergraduate degree in Italian also leads to successful entry in professional schools or graduate programs.

Numerous Italian Studies 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.

Distinctions and Awards

The Italian Studies program recognizes outstanding students of Italian in a variety of ways. Each spring, the program hosts its Garden Reception and Awards Ceremony to celebrate and honor our students of Italian. At this April gathering we award the Lola Pelliccia Undergraduate Prizes and in alternating years, we also present one or more of our fourth-year students with the Marie M. Giuliano Prize, for demonstrated academic excellence in Italian language study and contribution to the growth and nurturing of Italian at the University.