Welcome to the Department of Italian Studies!
Learning at a Research Institution
Italian has been taught at the University of Toronto since 1853 and has long been central to the University’s modern language offerings. Combined into one department with Spanish from 1887 to the early 1970s, Italian Studies was established as a separate department in 1973 and soon became the largest Italian department in the world outside of Italy.
The department’s undergraduate programs include courses dealing with all aspects of Italian literature as well as Italian drama and cinema, Italian culture, and Italian Canadian culture. The language courses are structured to suit the demands of students of varied backgrounds and levels of preparation and to attract students beginning the language in their first year of university. Courses in linguistics and history of the Italian language offer further specialization. Courses in cultural studies cover all periods of Italian literature, and increasingly deal with broader issues around diaspora, media, and politics.
Students have been active in organizing associations at both the undergraduate and graduate level for social events, film series, workshops, and conferences. The Italian Canadian community has also been a critical partner in nurturing interest in and study of Italian culture as it developed in Italy itself and as it spread around the world.
Our undergraduate students move into a wide range of professional and business careers around the globe. Our graduate students are faculty members in university departments across North America, including Stanford, Georgetown, McGill, Western, York, Ryerson, Guelph and others. Please use this website to learn more about our people and programs.
Italian Studies is among the very few departments in North America offering the opportunity to conduct graduate work at both the Masters and the Doctoral level. The graduate programs offer a firm grounding in Italian literature and language and offer specializations in those areas and also in cinema and linguistics. The faculty include both established scholars who have published many works, and also younger scholars are also quickly establishing themselves on the international stage and transforming the discipline. The ten full-time faculty members on the St. George and Mississauga campuses are heavily engaged in teaching and research in their fields. Some of them are associated at the undergraduate level with the Renaissance and semiotics programs at Victoria College, the cinema program at Innis College, and the Canadian Studies and Sexual Diversity programs at University College. At the graduate level, they are associated with the Centre for Comparative Literature, the Centre for Medieval Studies, the Centre for Diaspora and Transational Studies, and the Center for the Study of Drama, Theatre, and Performance.
The Department participates in the University of Toronto’s summer program in Siena which annually offers a wide range of courses in Italian, history, and fine art to over 150 students each year. Students can also participate in a one-semester undergraduate program in Florence organized through the Mississauga campus. Both opportunities provide the unique experience of total immersion in the culture of Italy while earning credits toward a U of T degree.
Connecting Scholarship with the World
Members of Italian Studies collaborate with their colleagues in Canada and abroad and international conferences are sponsored regularly by the department. U of T Italianists have also been among the main participants in the Canadian Society for Italian Studies, with five members of the department having served as the society’s president.
Research projects in various fields of Italian literature, language and pedagogy have been carried out in collaboration with the Universities of Rome, Venice, Pisa, and Bologna. Leading faculty members from these and other institutions are regularly appointed on as visiting professors to U of T under the auspices of the Emilio Goggio Chair, endowed by the family of a former chair of Italian studies. Goggio Visiting Professors have included renowned author and communications expert Umberto Eco, film scholars Millicent Marcus and Angela Dalle Vacche, and poet Pier Giorgio Di Cicco. The Goggio Chair also sponsors a distinguished publication series with the University of Toronto Press.
The Department has included a research centre for Italian Canadian studies since 1988. In 1995 it was endowed and renamed the Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian Canadian Studies thanks to an initiative of the Canadian Italian Development Association. This honour recognized the achievements of the first Canadian of Italian ancestry to be named Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and an individual whose long career at the University of Toronto included appointments as Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law, Vice-President and Provost of the University, and Interim President. The Iacobucci Centre sponsors lectures and conferences, hosts research on Italian Canadian diasporic studies, and publishes monographs and the journal Italian Canadiana.
Relations with the Italian community of Toronto have strengthened the work of the Department, above all thruogh the work of various social groups. The “Famee Furlane” has sponsored courses at the undergraduate and graduate level on the language and culture of the Friuli region. The Association of Molisani has sponsored courses in the culture of the Molise region and offered scholarships to students. The Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association and community groups like the Order of the Sons of Italy offer generous bursaries to undergraduate students. Many individual donors have also established scholarships and bursaries to assist students interested in studying Italian language and culture through the Department of Italian Studies.