Italian Studies at Brown explores the culture, history and society of Italy and educates the next generation of scholars to focus on Italy in a global context. Faculty members work with students to identify emergent problems leading to interdisciplinary research in content and method, through literary, historical and art historical studies, critical and sociopolitical theory, with an emphasis on the digital humanities and the latest methodologies in language pedagogy. Our mission is strengthened by long-term alliances between our department and Anthropology, Archeology, History of Art & Architecture, Classics, Comparative Literature, Computer Science, Film and Media Studies (MCM), History, Literary Arts, Musicology, Philosophy, Women and Gender Studies.
The study of Italian culture and civilization has enjoyed steady growth at Brown since 1842, when the University first initiated a formal program in Italian language instruction. In the 1860s, courses in Italian history were first offered to Brown students, followed by courses in Italian art and architecture a few years later. In 1960, Italian language and literature courses were brought under the auspices of a new department of Spanish and Italian and, in the 1980s, exchange programs were developed with the University of Bologna and the University of Turin. In 1989, the Department of Italian Language and Literature was established as an autonomous academic unit, and in 2002 the unit renamed itself as Department of Italian Studies, reflecting its current interdisciplinary configuration.