Culture Courses

A different selection of the following courses is offered each term based on student enrollments and is confirmed at the time of registration.


  • Bread, Wine & Olive Oil: A Culinary History of Italy

    ANTH 105 / HIST 105 / ITAL 105
    Guido Gualandi

    This course examines the evolution and cultural significance of three staple foods of Italian cuisine, bread, wine, and olive oil, from their ancient roots in the Mediterranean to their role in the enogastronomic traditions of Tuscany. We will start by tracing the origins of these products in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome, and their changing symbolic and cultural meaning across time, from ancient Roman and early Christian civilizations to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. We will then discuss their contribution to the definition of an Italian national identity and their place in today’s food culture. For the study of bread and pasta in modern Italy, we will look at the industrialization of wheat growing and of bread and pasta-making techniques, countered by the recent revival of heritage grains, especially in Tuscany. The analysis of Italian wine culture will address the industrialisation of wine production in Italy and the natural wine movement, with a specific focus on wine production in Tuscany. Finally, olive oil will be studied from a symbolic, agricultural and dietary perspective. Comparative tastings of ancient and modern grain breads, of conventional and natural wine, as well as of traditional Tuscan organic olive oil and commercial oil will be part of the class. Field trips to mills, farms and food sites will complement the class contents.

  • Made in Italy: Marketing the Italian Style

    ITAL 104 / COMM 104
    Francesca Passeri

    The course examines the notion of “Made in Italy” as an intangible asset and traces its evolution in time, starting from its creation in Florence in the 1950s up to the current global success of Tuscany-based icons such as Vespa, Gucci, Ferragamo, and Chianti. The main aim is to explore the appeal of “Made in Italy” as a global brand and the marketing of “Italian Style” throughout the world. To this purpose, we will analyze important Italian companies in specific sectors – fashion, food, wine, leather, design and art – and discuss their innovative branding practices. The focus will be on key Italian cultural products, their significance and symbolism, as well as the concept of “Country Branding” within the industrial, leisure, lifestyle, food and fashion industries. An array of educational tools – lectures, class discussions, fieldtrips and visits to food and fashion retailers, corporate museums, design studios – will allow students to acquire an in-depth knowledge of trendsetting communication strategies and gain first-hand experience with some iconic products commonly associated with the idea of “Italianness”, from concept to consumption.

  • Entrepreneurship - The Italian Way

    BUS A 103 / COMM 103 / ITAL 103
    Clive Woollard

    This course provides an in-depth study of the creative chaos of Italian entrepreneurship. From the Medici, who made a fortune and lost it again within a century, to Ferrari, the consummate entrepreneur; from Armani, Ferragamo, and Gucci to Luxottica and Del Vecchio’s sunglasses empire, students investigate the essence of Italian entrepreneurship. In addition, this course scrutinizes examples of family businesses, in which each new generation exhibits entrepreneurship (FIAT, Ferrero etc.), as well as instances of entrepreneurial endeavors that were not successful (e.g. Parmalat). The world of entrepreneurship is evaluated from the perspectives of management, finance, and marketing as well as incorporating sociological skills required to understand these enterprises. The course uses a large array of texts and academic sources that the students assess via real life case studies. Students visit a wide range of entrepreneurial contexts and have the opportunity to interview first hand a number of entrepreneurs and those that support entrepreneurship. Students also critically evaluate major issues such as globalization, sustainability, and ethics, which affect entrepreneurships today.

  • Unity in Diversity: The Making of Italian Identity through Food

    ANTH 111 / ITAL 111 / HIST 111
    Peter Fischer

    This course explores the unique significance of food for the definition of “Italian-ness”. Pasta, pizza and cappuccino have become some of the most recognizable signs for Italian identity and they contribute to the creation of a coherent, unified image of Italy. To fully understand the evolution of this fascinating relationship between “Italian-ness” and food, a cornucopia of historical, cross-cultural and theoretical views is offered, drawing from history, anthropology, sociology, as well as from geography.  The course will trace the historical evolution of Italian food culture in the geographical and cultural context of the Mediterranean from the times of the classical civilizations until today. Topics will include: Food as a Marker of Cultural Identity in the Classical Mediterranean World, Food as a Source of Sin and of Salvation, the Importance of Food for the Definition of Identity among Italian Immigrants in the United States as well as the Making of Italians after National Unification and the Particular Role of Food. Lectures and class discussions will be supplemented by special food workshops in which we will explore the history, culture and taste of some Italian key products such as bread, wine and olive oil. We will visit food markets in Florence, and go on a fieldtrip to the Tuscan countryside. This course is designed for undergraduate students of history, anthropology, sociology and geography and students generally interested in food studies.

  • Genius and Innovation in Italian Renaissance Art

    ARTHS 113 / ITAL 113
    Cecilia Martelli

    This course is designed for students interested in an in-depth exploration of the artistic production of Italy from the 14th to the 16th centuries, with a special focus on Florence and its social, political and devotional context. Starting with the Gothic, the course will follow the development of different forms of art – painting, sculpture and architecture – up to the middle of the 16th century, thus covering the period known as the Renaissance. This time underwent an extraordinary renewal in all fields of human knowledge, from literature and philosophy to the visual arts, the latter being considered a fundamental instrument for the investigation of nature and of human experience. The course analyzes how the recovery and study of ancient sources and the work of contemporary humanists inspired and stimulated painters, sculptors, and architects. For the analysis of the Early Renaissance, special emphasis is placed on such figures as Giotto, Ghiberti, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Masaccio, and Fra Angelico. Moving on to the High Renaissance in the second part of the course, the works of Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, the young Raphael and Giorgio Vasari are considered in the light of the Medici family political rule and artistic patronage. Through lectures, class discussions, and frequent site visits, the course aims at training students to study works of art in their original context, to recognize iconographic features and subjects and distinguish the different styles and techniques used by the artists.
    * Not offered in Summer