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Italian Language and Literature

I. Program Information

The Italian program of the Romance Languages Department addreses the study of Italian literature, film, cultural studies and critical theory. Research interests include literature as it relates to history and politics, philosophy, the history of science, and art history, as well as film, aesthetics, gender studies and literary theory. The program has a standing faculty of four. Graduate courses are offered in Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch, and on all literary periods from the middle ages to the twentieth century. There are no courses, nor is there any focused research interest in Italian linguistics or philology, except in the context of pedagogy.

II. Collection Description

The collection meets most of the curricular and research needs of the University's program. Its special strengths, based on collections acquired in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, are in the literatures of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, especially in Dante, Boccaccio, and Tasso.

Directly relevant collections at Penn include the Macauley Collection, devoted to Italian Renaissance culture and literature, especially Tasso and other poets, and a collection of sixteenth-century imprints, which includes one of the strongest Tasso collections in the U.S. These are both housed in the Library's Walter H. & Leonore Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Licensed digitized texts in Italian are available in CD-ROM format only. To date the Library has acquired the database known as LIZ (Letteratura Italiana Zanichelli), the Archivio della tradizione lirica, and the complete works of Petrarch and Tasso in this format.

III. Guidelines for Collection Development

  1. Chronological

    The Italian literature program requires support in all periods of Italian literature, both in criticism and belles lettres, with special emphasis on Dante, Boccaccio, and Tasso, medieval literature, the Renaissance, and, in the modern period, literary theory, gender issues, and film.

  2. Formats

    Monographs and serials, in hardcopy, in microfilm, and digitized. As of 1999, the Library has adopted an active acquisitions policy of feature films on videotape and DVD in support of the film studies program.

    The Library organizes and maintains collections of subject-based Internet links useful to students and scholars. Sites devoted to Italian literature and film are included in the Italian Studies page.

  3. Geographical

    No limitation.

  4. Language

    Emphasis on Italian and English-language publications. Continued acquisition of Italian belles lettres in translation is important to support the work of students in related disciplines that draw on the study of Italian culture.

  5. Publication Dates

    Emphasis is on current materials, although selective retrospective purchasing is undertaken where necessary.

IV. Principal Sources of Supply and major Selection Tools

The Library's most timely source of scholarship pertaining to Italian literature is an approval plan with Casalini Libri, through which we receive a steady stream of current Italian fiction, criticism, and related material. The approval plan is supplemented by a broad slip selection-plan, from which books are firm ordered.

V. Subjects Collected and Levels of Collecting

Subjects Collected Levels of Collecting
Italian Literature3/3/4F
Medieval, including Stil Nuovo, Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio4/4F
Renaissance3/3F
Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries3/3F
1800-19003/3F
20th/21st centuries2/3F
Italian Film (video/DVD)0/2/3F
Italian Film Criticism1/3/3F

VI. Subjects Excluded

The Library acquires Italian popular fiction and popular genres such as fumetti only very selectively.

VII. Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections

The historically strong collections of other major research libraries in the Northeast (Princeton, New York Public Library, Yale, Harvard) provide Penn faculty and students with excellent supplementary resources.

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