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Accordion List

The Italian language and literature library collections at Penn support the Italian Studies Program, which is part of the French and Francophone, Italian, and Germanic Studies (FIGS) Department in the School of Arts & Sciences, as well as other humanities programs that draw on Italian literary and cultural traditions.

The undergraduate curriculum in Italian Studies is highly interdisciplinary and awards major and minor degrees, as well as a certificate in Italian Studies. The graduate program provides a broad academic base covering Italian literature, film, cultural studies, intellectual history, gender studies, philosophy, art, and critical theory. The five-person graduate faculty includes scholars with background and appointments in literature, history, art history, English, and music.

The collection meets most of the curricular and research needs of the university’s programs. Special collections, based on materials acquired in the 19th and early 20th centuries, provide the core of significant holdings of the literatures of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, especially in Dante, Boccaccio, and particularly notable Tasso holdings. Many of the latter can be found in the Macauley Library and a collection of 16th-century imprints. In recent decades the library has collected more broadly, covering all periods of literature, including the contemporary, plus film and cultural issues.

1. Chronological 

All periods.

2. Formats 

Books, serials, and videos account for most of the material acquired. Streaming video is acquired when possible for instructional purposes. Most books come in paper format, and paper is preferred for literary works. The library acquires works of history and criticism in electronic format, when available and depending, to some extent, on cost. Microform is acquired when necessary. Dissertations (whether from Italy, the U.S., or elsewhere) are not normally acquired. The library provides links to sites devoted to Italian literature, film, and culture, which are included in the Italian Studies guide. Collecting extends to the diaspora and the cultural expressions of Italy’s own immigrant community. Data sets such as textual corpora may be acquired as the need and availability warrants.

3. Geographical 

No limitation.

4. Language 

Primarily Italian, and translations of Italian literature in English. Scholarly books are acquired in both Italian and English, and, in some cases, in French and other western languages. We strive to acquire videos in Italian with English subtitles.

5. Publication dates 

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

6. Open Access 

Products that lead to open access publications and resources receive priority. Proprietary resources in which we would not normally invest receive greater consideration if they support a competitive market with varied publishing models. 

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 literature, criticism, and related material. A mix of Italian and other vendors provide serial subscriptions. The main English-language approval vendor supplies scholarship in English and translations of Italian literature. The catalogs of both vendors inform one-time purchases. Other vendor catalogs, faculty and student requests, and WorldCat searches provide additional information. Film is not collected through an approval plan, and depends largely on recommendations, vendor emails, and bibliographer research.

The library collects heavily in all periods of Italian literature from the Middle Ages to the contemporary. In recent years we have collected film and more popular literature at a more intensive level, and have undertaken retrospective purchases in those areas. The library has targeted literature and critical studies that cover different regions of Italy, especially the South, and work by immigrant authors.

Translations from other languages. Children’s books are generally excluded. While the library acquires Italian popular fiction and popular genres such as fumetti less comprehensively than the works of historical writers and the most critically acclaimed contemporary writers, it seeks to extend its coverage of more popular forms.

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.