The course has a twofold structure. On one side, it will investigate how the development of the Italian culinary tradition and the variety of eating habits mirror the historical and economical changes that occurred in Italian society over the centuries. We will embark on a journey across time, social classes and geographical regions. On the other side, the course will analyze images of food in literary works (from Dante to Futurism) and in Italian films (from Pasolini to Guadagnino), in order to understand how food became an important defining element of “Italianness” and “Italicity” in the common imaginary. While the core of the syllabus centers on Italian culture and society, we will also look at it transnationally. In particular, we will reserve a section of the course to the Italian-American interpretation of Italian cusine, as well as to the business of Italian food on the U.S. market.
Literary texts include, but are not limited to: Dante, Boccaccio, Manzoni, Leopardi, Verga, Marinetti. Films will include: La Ricotta (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1962); Mid-August Lunch (Gianni Di Gregorio, 2008); La grande bouffe (Marco Ferreri, 1973); Big Night (Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci, 1996); The Dinner (Ettore Scola, 1998); His Secret Life and Saturn in Opposition (Ferzan Özpetek, 2001 and 2007); I am Love (Luca Guadagnino, 2009).
This course will be taught in English. Materials and writing assignments may be provided in Italian for students interested in pursuing a Major or Minor in Italian Studies.