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ITA3: Introduction to Italian 3: Texts and Contexts

This course is shared between ab initio students of Italian (Part 1, Option A, Paper ITA3) and Post-A-level students of Italian (Part 1, Option B, Paper IT1)

The course is designed to introduce you to 'texts' of a wide variety of different kinds from the entire tradition of Italian culture and language from the 14th century to the 21st century, as preparation for later courses in the Tripos. It spreads over three broad historical periods - medieval, Renaissance, and modern - and shows you how to embed the study of a text in its many historical and cultural contexts, exploring the ways in which contexts produce and shape individual works of literature and film. The five core texts studied include narrative and lyric poetry, political theory, modern memoir and contemporary film. Each text is of manageable length or quantity and will be supplemented by course handbooks providing detailed contextual material and suggestion for further study. The fifth element is an introduction to Italian linguistics. 


This list is valid for 2021-22.

For each of the first five texts Cambridge students will be provided with a course handbook. Handbooks contain contextual material, further reading and suggestions for supervision work:

Preparatory reading: 

Before arriving in Cambridge, you can best prepare for this course by getting to know some or all of the core texts, in translation or in the original. For general background on Italian literature, culture, language and history, see:

  • The Cambridge History of Italian Literature, ed. Peter Brand and Lino Pertile (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996; 2nd rev. edn 1999)
  • Oxford Short History of Italy, general editor John Davis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 7 vols, 2000-2004)
  • Italian Cultural Studies: An Introduction, ed. by David Forgacs and Robert Lumley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

Course handbooks will be provided at the start of the term.

Teaching and learning: 

For each of these six texts / topics there will be a short course of 4 lectures over Michaelmas and Lent terms. Lectures will be supplemented by up to 10 supervisions and/or seminars, for which you will be asked to submit short essays or commentaries. There will be revision sessions in Easter term.

Please see here for the ITA3 Moodle site.


Normally one three-hour examination will be set. There will be questions on each of the 6 texts / topics, including extracts for commentary. You will be asked to answer three questions on three different topics. N.B. Due to the current pandemic, modes of assessment may change.

Course Contacts: 
Dr Heather Webb