Italian Language, Literature and Culture at GW

The Italian Program at The George Washington University aims to develop students’  competence in Italian and to expose them to the rich cultural traditions and history of the Italian peninsula.

The language, literature and culture of Italy have played a key role on the world stage since the Middle Ages, when knowledge of Italian language and culture was, as it continues to be, an important asset for cultural, political and commercial exchange. Our program aims to prepare students for a variety of career paths through its Italian minor, which allows students to polish their Italian and to hone their critical thinking and writing skills as they gain knowledge of Italian social and cultural life from the Middle Ages to the present. Whether discussing Dante's idea of the cosmos in the Divine Comedy, Machiavelli's understanding of leadership in the Prince, the depiction of fascism in contemporary films, or the parallels between the experiences of Italian immigrants abroad in the early 20th century and those of migrants to Italy in the 21st century, students are exposed to central issues which founded or animate the modern world. Because of the small class sizes, students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty members and to be involved in cultural and research initiatives. Students often spend a summer or a semester on an academic program in Italy to solidify language skills and to gain a richer understanding of Italian culture.

The study of Italian at GW is enriched by many local resources. L’Istituto Italiano di Cultura (The Italian Cultural Institute) of the Italian Embassy offers a year-round program of diverse cultural activities: film series, seminars on art and literature, art and photography exhibits, concerts, talks by contemporary Italian writers, artists and film directors, and regular roundtables on political, linguistic and social issues of modern-day Italy. Washington is also the home to several Italian cultural associations including the Italian Cultural Society, the National Italian American Foundation and the Order of the Sons of Italy. There are local internship opportunities for students of Italian as well as scholarships for students of Italian.

Please see Exams for more information regarding the Italian Placement Exam (NOTE: All students MUST take this exam before placing into a course if they have not previously taken courses at GW)


Italian Contacts

Director of Italian Language and Literature 
Professor Lynn Westwater 
(202) 994-3104

Italian Literature Research Guide

Find literary studies scholarship for all periods and genres. Gelman Library's Italian Literature research guide can help!