Graduate Programs in Italian

Welcome to the University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate program in Italian!  Our program is one of very few institutions that have specialists in all areas of Italian Studies including film and linguistics.  We believe that, as one of the largest programs in the North America, we offer an unparalleled opportunity to study Italian literature, linguistics, and culture.  Our program is varied, active, and successful.  And the most important ingredient in its success has been the quality and general excellence of the students we have been able to attract.  For a detailed M.A. reading list, please refer to the Italian M.A. Reading List. For more information regarding our M.A./Ph.D. program in Italian, please refer to the Graduate Guidelines for the Italian MA/Ph.D

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!

  • General questions about applying to the program and support? Contact the Graduate Coordinator, Shawn Ramer.
  • Questions about Teaching Assistantships? Contact the Language Coordinator, Loren Eadie.
  • Questions about graduate studies? Contact the Italian Admissions & Fellowships Committee Co-Chair, Patrick Rumble.

Thank you for your interest in our Department. We hope you will consider applying to our graduate program in Italian, which offers an exceptional educational and professional experience. Surveys on the status of Italian studies in North America have recognized that our Department, in addition to being one of the largest, has a well balanced and strong program in all areas.

The Italian faculty consists of six full-time members, four of whom are native Italians. Our program is one of very few institutions that have specialists in all areas of Italian Studies including film and linguistics. Our current graduate students (19, from first-year students to dissertators) come both from Italy and from colleges and universities across North America. This diversity of personnel is essential to the breadth and vitality of our program, which may also be measured in its course offerings, cultural activities (e.g., lectures, films, Circolo Italiano), scholarly events (symposia and conferences), and teaching opportunities. The Department is also the editorial home of three well-respected journals: Dante Studies (published by the Dante Society of America), the Modern Language Journal, and L’Anello che non tiene.

Typical course offerings over a two- to three-year period cover all centuries of Italian literature and a wide variety of topics, including Italian culture, cinema, civilization and linguistics:

In recent years we have been able to sponsor special lecture series and symposia on a variety of Italian topics . e.g., Eugenio Montale, Giacomo Leopardi, Giuseppe Parini, Vottorio Alfieri and Italian Feminism. In conjunction with other university departments, our program sponsors lectures and proseminars by distinguished visitors. This sort of interdepartmental cooperation also permits students to do pertinent work in other languages and disciplines, such as Comparative Literature, Linguistics, Film Studies, Art History, English, French, Spanish, History, and Medieval Studies, thus broadening their background and potential expertise in a variety of areas. We also cooperate with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese on an individual Ph.D. degree in Romance Philology and Linguistics.

We are proud that during their tenure with us our graduate students gain a solid foundation not only in scholarship and criticism, but also in teaching. All graduates are required to have at least one year of experience as a Teaching Assistant (TA), and most students teach more than that. These assistantships are an integral part of our educational program and may be complemented by a special course on teaching methods offered through French. Although teaching assistants work closely with experienced faculty who chair the elementary and intermediate language courses, they have responsibility for grading and presentation of course material in their sections.

Our standard offer to an incoming teaching assistant provides a guarantee of four or five years of support, depending on whether the individual is a new graduate student or has already done graduate work elsewhere. Our practice has always been to continue to support those students beyond the terms of the guarantee, provided they are making satisfactory progress toward the degree. Other opportunities for support include yearly competitive fellowships and travel awards at the university level. The Department and the University have some opportunities for study and research in Europe through our study-abroad programs and exchange agreements with individual universities. For example, we frequently send one of our graduate students to serve for a semester or a year as the house fellow for our study program at the Villa Corsi-Salviati near Florence. We also have exchange and cooperation arrangements with the Università  di Siena, the Università di Firenze and the Université de Genève.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the top public research institutions in the United States, and the collection of more than six million volumes in Memorial Library has a very rich and strong Italian component.

With a population of around 200,000, Madison is the capital of the state of Wisconsin. It is built on and around four lakes, and has many amenities, not least of which is a vibrant cultural life both on and off campus. Although the winters in Madison are cold, the other three seasons are generally very pleasant. The excellent “quality of life” that is enjoyed by Madison residents was recognized a few years ago (1996) when it was voted the best place to live in America by Money Magazine. With careful planning, it is possible for you to live on the stipend that you would receive, even at the 36% TA rate.

When choosing a graduate program, you should carefully consider all the aspects of a program. Although future trends are difficult to predict, our Department has had an outstanding placement record over the past thirty years. The Department regularly sponsors workshops to prepare students for the job market; these focus on effective resum, writing, interview techniques and strategies, and related matters. Graduates from our program are currently teaching at Charlottesville, Virginia, Massachusetts Florida State, Arizona, Indiana, Ohio State, Stanford, Florida, Santa Clara, Queens College, Brigham Young, Dartmouth, Vassar, Arizona State, Tennessee, Dominican, Hofstra, and other institutions. They attribute their success in obtaining employment to a number of factors: their solid preparation in all areas of Italian literature, linguistics, and culture, their training in research methods and criticism, and, perhaps most important of all, the richness of their teaching experience in our Department.

In short, we believe that, as one of the largest programs in the North America, we offer an unparalleled opportunity to study Italian literature, linguistics, and culture. Our program is varied, active, and successful. And the most important ingredient in its success has been the quality and general excellence of the students we have been able to attract. We hope soon to count you among them. Please contact us with any questions you may have concerning our program. We look forward to hearing from you.

Please Note: If you have received only a Bachelor’s degree and intend to go on to a PhD after completing your MA, please apply directly to the PhD program.

We hope you will consider applying to our program. We offer an M.A. and Ph.d. in Italian.

Applicants for the MA or PhD in Italian must submit all application materials by the application deadline of December 20. International students may have different deadlines due to the extra processing time required for visas and I-20 or IAP-66 forms. Please refer to International Student Services for more information.

Graduate School Electronic Application
Please refer to the following links:

  • Consult the Graduate School website for complete information about graduate education opportunities at UW-Madison. This site is especially helpful in understanding Admissions Requirements developing a Timeline for application.
  • You will need to list 3 people who will write letters of recommendation for you. They should be in faculty or permanent academic staff positions. Since the Graduate School will contact your recommenders directly via e-mail once you have completed your online application, you should be sure to contact each recommender at least a month prior to when the letter of recommendation is needed to let them know that they will be contacted directly by the Graduate School
  • Submit the on-line Graduate School Application for Admission and pay the application fee.
  • GRE (optional) institution code 1846 for UW-Madison
  • Non-native English speakers must also submit results for the TOEFL or MELAB exams. Please note that the Graduate School requires that these scores be no older than 2 years old. This is calculated from the start of the term for which you are applying, NOT the date on which we receive your application.
  • TA/Fellowship Application: To be considered for Teaching Assistantship or Fellowship support, you must submit to the department a document listing all relevant experience since you began studying Italian. There is no specific application form – it is a document, much like a CV, that you put together yourself. Include travel, study, or residence abroad. For teaching experience, be specific about subject, level, actual classroom hours/week, and age of students. Also indicate undergraduate and graduate honors, and how you would support yourself if UW was not able to offer support.
  • writing sample (essay or paper in Italian – usually between 7-12 pages in length)

Materials to be sent to the Department:

  • If your referees are sending hard copies of your letters of recommendation to the department and are not electing to submit the letters electronically, you must print, fill out, and send a recommendation form to your recommender, who needs to include it with their letter.
 Application materials should be sent to:

Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of French and Italian
608 Van Hise Hall
1220 Linden Drive
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706

Questions? Please contact Graduate Coordinator Shawn Ramer.

The Department of French & Italian is committed to providing full funding to all graduate students. Students who accept our offer of admission therefore receive fellowships or assistantships that cover tuition and provide eligibility to enroll in excellent comprehensive health insurance and other benefits. Funding for Fall 2019 and beyond is projected to be guaranteed for a minimum of 5 years of study for students entering with a B.A., and a minimum of 4 years for those entering with an M.A. Moreover, it has been our departmental practice to continue to offer funding beyond guarantee as possible for students in good academic standing.

Teaching assistantships, the most common form of support in our department, offer the pedagogical experience and training necessary to be competitive on the academic job market. On average, students with teaching assistantships in our department earned $18,867 during academic year 2017-2018 (including summer pay). The teaching assignment is usually one course per semester, but double sections (two sections of the same course) can also be requested for an increased stipend, when available. While the guarantee of support means students in good standing will receive funding, the exact assignments are based on need, merit, and experience. Generally, a graduate student will, over the course of study, hold a variety of the following positions, which are available every semester:

Teaching Assignments Stipend per semester (F 2018 / S 2019)
Italian 101 or 102 $6,606
Italian 201 or 202 $7,340
Italian 203 or 204 $6,881
Head TA $9,083
Lit Trans 360 $7,707
Lit Trans 360 Head TA $9,175
Double section Italian 101, 102 $11,927
Double section Italian 203, 204 $12,233
Summer Teaching Assignments Stipend for Summer 2019
Italian 101 or 102 (4-week session) $2,936
Lit Trans 360 (8-week session) $3,058


Students may also have the opportunity to teach more advanced courses, such as Italian 322, depending on departmental need. Note that all stipend amounts described here are as of Fall 2018 and that they typically increase each year. It should also be noted that international students are not eligible to teach double sections at this time due to visa restrictions; they are, however, eligible for all other teaching assignments listed above.

There are also fellowships available from several sources on campus each year, including the Chancellor’s fellowship, which starts at around $10,000 per semester. Advanced Opportunity Fellowships are also available to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the graduate student population, as well as support economically disadvantaged and first-generation college students. The department also offers a number of monetary awards every year, for academic performance and for teaching.

Our program offers training for teaching and research in all areas of Italian literature and literary history, in critical theory, film, and foreign language pedagogy.

PhD Reading Lists

Fall 2019

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Italian 452: Special Topics in Italian Studies: Culture, Film, Language

Italian 631: Lineamenti Di Letteratura Italiana

Credits: 3 Contact: Professor Jelena Todorović

“Giovanni Boccaccio: Author, Editor, Commentator, Scribe”

This course will examine the complex intellectual activity of Giovanni Boccaccio, normally thought of merely as the author of the Decamerone. But Boccaccio’s role in the history of the Italian—and European—literature and culture was much broader and more extensive. We will study not only his texts (Decamerone, Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta, Trattatello in laude di Dante, Esposizioni), but also his scribal and editorial activities, which reveal a strong and engaged figure of an intellectual creating a new literary and cultural tradition.

Italian 820: College Teaching of French and Italian

Credits: 1 or 3 Contacts: Professor Heather Willis Allen and Doctor Loren Eadie

Pre-Reqs: Graduate or professional standing

College Teaching of French and Italian

Intended for instructors of elementary- and intermediate-level collegiate French and Italian courses, the goal of FRE 820 is to help you understand key concepts of communicative, literacy-oriented language teaching and related techniques for classroom instruction. This course will provide the foundation for success in teaching lower-level French or Italian courses, but to deepen your understanding of teaching language, literature, and cultural studies at more advanced levels, I encourage you to consider enrolling in another course such as FRE 821 or a seminar offered by the Second Language Acquisition doctoral program later in your graduate studies. Participants in this seminar will demonstrate:

  1. Understanding of key concepts of communicative, literacy-oriented language teaching
  2. Understanding of classroom techniques for communicative, literacy-oriented language teaching
  3. Ability to apply key concepts related to communicative, literacy-oriented language teaching to designing French or Italian instructional materials, lessons, and assessment tools
  4. Increasing engagement in pedagogical discourse on collegiate foreign language teaching and learning

Italian 951: Seminar-Studies in Italian Literature

Credits: 3 Contact: Professor Ernesto Livorni

“The Concept of “Madre Patria” from Risorgimento to the Aftermath of World War II. ”    

The course will explore the birth and development of the notion of “madre patria” in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italian literature. Besides relying on political and historical documents of the period, the course will discuss the notion according to theoretical venues that span from psychology and psychoanalysis to philosophy and hermeneutics. The course will focus on the intersection of the private figure of the mother and her surrogates with the public and political notion of “motherland.” Authors may include, among others: Foscolo, Tommaseo, De Amicis, Pascoli, D’Annunzio, Marinetti, Ungaretti, Saba, Montale, Moravia, Morante, Viganò, Pasolini, Bevilacqua.

Spring 2019

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Italian 460: Italian Film

Italian 636: Il Romanzo Italiano

Credits: 3 Contact: Professor Grazia Menechella

This course will investigate the history and trends of Italian literature from the second half of the 20th century to the present. We will consider the history of the Italian novel between tradition and innovation starting with Carlo Emilio Gadda’s Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana. We will compare and contrast Gadda-Lakhous, Calvino-Manganelli, Tondelli-Ballestra, Camilleri-Maraini.

Italian 952: Dissidenti e libertini del Sei e Settecento

Credits: 3 Contact: Professor Stefania Buccini

The seminar will focus on ideological dissent within the context of early modern and pre-Enlightenment Italian literature and culture. Special attention will be given to the spiritual impact of the Reformation on specific authors, the development of the libertine novel in Venice, and the increasing detachment of moral philosophy from religion in the early eighteenth century. All texts will be available in PDF.

French 821: Issues in Methods of Teaching French and Italian

Credits: 1-3 Contact: Professor François Tochon

Pre-Reqs: French/Italian 820; or foreign lang teaching experience