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Italian 2014


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Ciao a tutti!


I realize it's pretty early for the Fall 2014 application process, but everyone has consistently told me that it's never too early to plan. So I guess you could say that I'm just trying to find my bearings. I would like to hear from other prospective grad students who are planning to apply to Italian grad programs, as well as those who have already applied and have been accepted (or rejected) by their schools. I'm trying to get as much information as I can, especially since Italian seems to be a very small discipline when compared to other languages. I recently graduated with a BA in English and Italian, and I've compiled a tentative list of schools that I'm looking to apply to:


University of Virginia (one of my professors is an alum and actually recommended this to me) 


Georgetown University (my aforementioned prof was a visiting professor there, and also recommended this to me)


Rutgers University-New Brunswick


University of Wisconsin-Madison


Indiana University-Bloomington (another recommendation from an alumnus)


Middlebury (I've heard the MA program is awesome, but for some reason, I can't really find a whole lot of info on it)


University of Colorado-Boulder (my alma mater; they actually don't have an Italian graduate program, but their comparative lit program is fantastic, which would be the closest thing to what I'm interested in... you could say I'm using this as a "safety" school)


I should note that I have my sights set on MA programs.


E allora? Che ne pensate voi? Vorrei sapere un po' di più da parte vostra (specificamente sulla vostra esperienza e/o speranza riguardo al processo). Fatemi sapere! 





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  • 1 month later...

Why are you looking for an MA? Are you not sure about pursuing a PhD-track right after your BA? All MA in Italian are going to disappear because they are pretty much useless, and only PhD will remain. If you want to go for Italian on its own, I mean if you already know that you want to teach Italian, you should consider a strong PhD program in Italian right now: University of Michigan, Ohio State, UCLA, Berkeley, all the Ivies, Stanford, Chicago, Duke, Chaper Hill... All them are keen to accept students right from their BA (well, some more than other at least). In any case I suggest you to apply to a place which offers at least both MA and PhD, because the program would be way stronger. Obviously, if that university has Department of Italian (like the Ivies) it is even better.


CompLit is a completely different matter: here you could consider an MA to improve your skills, maybe learning a third language and then apply to a top school. But consider that it will be really difficult for a non native speaker to get a job in Italian studies, so you will be probably be a teacher of English or CompLit with interests in Italian literature and something else.


About your selections, you have to consider that most of those universities you named do not offer funded MA (or they do not fund it anymore, because of budget cut). It is absolutely meaningless to pursue an MA in humanities without funding.


Above all, it depends also on what your interests are. Do you have an idea about what would you like to study? Which period or field? The choice is connected also e mainly to the place where you can pursue your interests with a good professor.

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I'm aware that MAs are typically not funded, and that's definitely something I'm taking into consideration. Some of the schools I listed do offer both the MA and the PhD (Rutgers, Indiana, Wisconsin), and they typically do offer funding (MA and PhD alike). Indiana and Wisconsin in particular have some of the strongest Italian departments in the country--even more so than the Ivies. I have tenured professors (native Italians) who are alumni from those schools, and they've recommended them to me based on the strength of their respective departments. I don't care about the school's overall prestige as much as I do about the quality of their departments. I'm not trying to undermine the Ivies---after all, Harvard is Harvard and Yale is Yale, etc---but the reputation of those schools often precedes their individual departments (barring the professional schools, of course), especially as far as Italian is concerned. 


An MA is only as "useless" as the person who holds it. As you rightly guessed, I'm not sure if I want to pursue the PhD just yet, which is to say that I am not considering the MA solely from the perspective of academia. Statistically, an MA is far more likely to land a job (outside of academia) than a PhD. Georgetown has excellent internship programs abroad, not to mention the perks afforded by being located in the Washington D.C. area (think about the consulates, for example). The only downside is, as you mentioned, lack of funding. All and all, I'm trying to be as provident as possible, not just in regard to finances, but also in regard to job prospects. An MA is more practical with respect to the so-called "real world," but if it turns out that I want to stay within academia, the transition to a good PhD program won't be difficult. Either way, it's a gamble: with an MA, I risk running up debt, but I'll be more salable outside of academia; with a PhD, I'll get funding, but I risk anchoring myself to an 8 or 9 year commitment, and I have no way of knowing what my mindset will be that far down the road. Obviously, I love Italian, otherwise I wouldn't be pursuing it, but that timeframe is a very, very long time...


I guess you could say I'm planning on using the MA as a springboard. As I mentioned, the list I made is tentative as I'm still researching schools and trying to narrow my interests.  ;) As such, thank you for your advice! It's difficult to find anyone else in Italian studies, so I really value your input!


As far as my specific interests are concerned, I'm primarily interested in Renaissance literature. I wrote my senior thesis on a 16th century transcript from the fiaba tradition that was written by a little known author (Lorenza Selva e Della metamorfosi di un'uomo virtuoso). I also wrote an analytical comparison between Ludovico Ariosto and John Milton and their epic poems (Orlando furioso and Paradise Lost). I'm also interested in 19th-20th century literature---as a secondary interest, I'd like to study the works of Luigi Pirandello (I wrote a piece on identity in his Enrico IV). At the University of Virginia, there's a professor (Enrico Cesaretti) who specializes in Palazzeschi and Pirandello, so that's one of the main reasons for my consideration of UVa. 


If you don't mind my asking, can you tell me more about yourself? :) Where and what are you studying? Are you in a PhD program?

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