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On this page you find the syllabus used during the Spring semester of 2010. Read it carefully enough. Ask as many questions as necessary to clarify any obscure passage.

Course description

What's it all about, in 30 words

The historical development of civilization in Italy from the foundation of Rome to the Renaissance, with reference to literature, the visual arts, music, and other relevant expressions of national culture.

Course prerequisites

Practically a legal disclaimer

Advisory prerequisite: completion of D.E.C. category B.

The D.E.C.

The reason 'some' people take this class

This course satisfies category I of the D.E.C.

Contents and course organization/objectives

The philosophy of the class

This course offers a general overview of pre-modern Italian civilization, guiding the students to a better understanding of its diverse manifestations, in various cultural fields and throughout the ages (from the ancient Romans to the beginning of the Renaissance).

The presentation of the contents of this class, whenever possible, is organized chronologically, with the intention of bringing together different aspects of the Italian culture: the arts — with the inclusion of painting, sculpture, architecture and music —, philosophy and science, literature and theater. Basic information about the history of Italy is introduced to contrast it with the images and stereotypes popularized by modern media.

In order to make topics taken from a wide range chronological range accessible to all the students, the course focuses on those themes and ideas that best represent the major phases of Italian history, and that are still active components in the process of creating of the Italian heritage. The appreciation of that heritage and a better understanding of modern/contemporary Italian society and culture are secondary goals of this course.

Contact information

You know where to find us

Instructor: Dr. Andrea Fedi.
Office hours (rm. 1148 or rm. 1055, Humanities building): Mondays and Wednesdays 5:15-6:30, Fridays 2:15-3:30, and by appointment.
Telephone: (631) 632-7449 [there is no voice-mail: to leave an urgent message, you can call Mary Wilmarth, the secretary of the Department of European Languages, at (631) 632-7442].

Graduate Assistant: Michele Giua.
Office hours (rm. 1056, Humanities building): TBA, and by appointment.
E-mail: mgiua@ic.sunysb.ed

Topics and readings

No, we don't have a textbook

No textbook is required for this class. All topics and readings will be posted inside the section called the lectures: there you will also find the presentations that I use in class.

Grades and coursework

'Some' people go straight to this section

Grades are determined according to the following scale:

5% for class participation and attendance

20% for the first paper (due Mar. 15)

30% for second paper (due Apr. 28)

45% for the final exam (May 17, 2:30-4:30).

The following table shows the numeric equivalents of the letter grades used in this class:

letter gradenumeric range

Attendance and participation

'Yeah, sure...'

Attendance is essential. Since new material is introduced with each lecture, missing even a few classes may have a serious effect on your grades. Attendance will be monitored through random attendance checks (circulating attendance sheets during some of the classes).

Participation is assessed on the basis of questions and comments made during lectures: for this reason, we recommend that you announce your first name every time you speak in class. From time to time you can also check with the graduate assistant, Michele, who is keeping track of participation helped by a photographic roster sorted by name: this way you can make sure that he registered your contributions. If you don't have a chance to speak in class, you can replace your participation with one or two comments submitted via email to the instructor: the recommended length for the comments is 100-200 words in total, and the suggested format is the following: personal/subjective reaction to a lecture or reading.

The papers

Two short papers, practically

The topics for the papers are listed in a separate section of this web site, entitled papers, etc., which also include some bibliographical sources. If you wish to write your papers on a different topic, you must submit an abstract or an outline via e-mail, and get permission from the instructor.

The recommended length for each paper is 1,200 words (approximately 4 pages, when formatted according to the rules described below), not counting bibliographical references and quotes. Minimum length is 900 words. Maximum length is 1,500 words.

The papers must be e-mailed to the instructor by the due date, to avoid incurring penalties for lateness. Receipt of each paper will be acknowledged on the class web site.

The papers must be submitted following these rules:

Margins: 1 inch on each side (top, bottom, left, right)

Font: Arial 12 pts.

Line spacing: double-space

Do not use a cover page: just insert your name and Stony Brook ID number on top of the first page, followed by the number and title of your topic

The header of each page should include first and last name of the student, and the topic number; the footer should include the page number.

Send the papers via email, as an attachment. Send it to all in one file, saved in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx), or in Rich Text Format (.rtf).

The name of the file containing the paper must begin with your last and first name, followed by the number of your topic, all separated by underscores or hyphens. For example:

Review your paper carefully before emailing it. Your submission will be considered final.

The final exam

Mostly multiple-choice questions

The final exam consists of 40-50 multiple-choice questions and 3-5 essay questions (100-200 words each). The exam is cumulative. Copies of the exams given in the past four years can be found inside the section entitled sample tests, which also includes interactive quizzes that you should use to better prepare for the final exam, and statistics about the averages for this class in the past few years.

Classroom Policy

Turn your cellphone off!

Students are expected to

- arrive for class on time and leave the classroom only at the end of class;
- engage in class discussions and activities when appropriate;
- exhibit classroom behavior that is not disruptive of the learning environment;
- secure and turn off cellphones and all other electronic communications and entertainment devices during class time unless otherwise directed by the course instructor.

Academic integrity

'But I've always done that!'

Stony Brook University expects students to maintain standards of personal integrity that are in harmony with the educational goals of the institution; to observe national, state, and local laws and University regulations; and to respect the rights, privileges, and property of other people. Faculty are required to report to the Office of Judicial Affairs any disruptive behavior that interrupts their ability to teach, compromises the safety of the learning environment, and/or inhibits students' ability to learn. Each student must pursue his or her academic goals honestly and be personally accountable for all submitted work. Representing another person's work as your own is always wrong. Any suspected instance of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Academic Judiciary. For more comprehensive information on academic integrity, including categories of academic dishonesty, please refer to the academic judiciary website, at

Disability Policy

Talk to the instructor, whenever necessary

If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that may impact your course work, please contact Disability Support Services (631) 632-6748 or go to They will determine with you what accommodations are necessary and appropriate. All information and documentation is confidential. Students who require assistance during emergency evacuation are encouraged to discuss their needs with their professors and Disability Support Services. For procedures and information go to the following web site: .

Last updated on 01/24/10. Fedi © 2010

This site is owned and managed by Dr. Andrea Fedi, Department of European Languages, State University of New York at Stony Brook.