Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Italian Studies


Italian Studies 298. Experimental Courses

Food and Fantasy: Inside Italy's Myth

This course will deconstruct the myth of “Italian food” by exploring the paradoxical nature of Italy’s relationship with food, which, over the centuries, has been marked by hunger and excess, by simplicity and art. We will study food in Italian culture as literary and artistic symbol, as culinary history, as daily ritual, as geographical difference, as political issue, as gendered sign. Readings will be drawn from literature, art manifestos, cookbooks, and essays. Discussions will include the origins and roles of certain ingredients, DOP designations, the Mediterranean Diet, the Slow Food movement, Italian American variations, and the effects of immigration and globalization on contemporary Italian eating patterns.

Conducted in Italian.

Prerequisite: Italian 200 or permission of the instructor.


Infernos, Brothels and Courts

From Dante‚s Inferno to Boccaccio's Decameron, from Machiavelli's court to the literary salons of the Venetian courtesans, we discover that infernos, brothels and courts are powerfully charged spaces in the Medieval and Renaissance imagination. This course will explore the social and metaphorical representations and functions of these structures.


Mafia Movies

From The Godfather to The Sopranos, the American entertainment industry has often glamourized the image of the “mafioso.” On the other side of the Atlantic, the Italian film industry has often romanticized the social and political struggle against the mafia. But what is the mafia and what makes a mafia movie? Why are American and Italian mafia movies so different from each other? How have different historical contexts and cinematic traditions affected the production and the reception of mafia movies? What is at stake in the cultural representation of the mafia?