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Faculty Profile

A brief history of the Faculty of Italian Language and Literature

On behalf of the Faculty of Italian Language and Literature and as the Chairman of our Faculty I feel really honored and pleased to introduce our first Programme of Studies, by giving you a brief history of Italian Studies at the University of Athens. Our university is the first one in Greece which showed interest in teaching the Italian Language and Literature in the early twentieth century. Greece has had traditional ties with Italy and a long collaboration on education and culture. The School of Philosophy at the University of Athens raised interest in the teaching of Italian Literature in 1933, which was assigned to the Assistant Professor at the University of Pisa Vincenzo Biagi.  In an effort to promote the reciprocity of the Greece and Italy, that same year the University of Rome, “La Sapienza”, decided to introduce the course “Modern Greek Literature” which was assigned to the memorable Professor George Zoras, a leading figure of educational and cultural cooperation between Greece and Italy. After the end of the Greek – Italian war, many years passed until the educational cooperation between the two countries commenced once again. Systematic efforts by Professor George Zoras lead to the operation of a lectorate of Italian Language at the University of Athens in 1958, while he resumed teaching Modern Greek Literature at the Faculty of Rome.

Later on, the University of Athens recalled from Italy as a visitor professor Salvatore Battaglia, who was a Professor at the University of Naples. By the year 1989, invited directors or professors as well as scholars from the Italian Institute taught at the University of Athens. In 1990, the course “Italian Literature” was integrated in the newly founded Faculty of the School of Philosophy which was named “General Faculty of Foreign Cultures”. Its programme of studies included Italian, Spanish as well as languages and literatures from several other countries. This General Faculty operated for nine years and, since the interest of the students for the Italian and Spanish Language and Literature was great, it evolved into the Faculty of Italian and Spanish Language and Literature, during the academic year 1999-2000. Later on, the integrated Faculty of these two languages was cancelled, and since the academic year 2010-2011, two distinct Faculties have been operating: the Faculty of Italian Language and Literature and the Faculty of Spanish Language and Literature.

Since the academic year 2010-2011, the Faculty of Italian Language and Literature has been operating as an independent one with eleven faculty members, nine senior teaching fellows and one technical personnel.

The Faculty of Italian Language and Literature has as its mission to maintain the traditions and study of the great classics as well as to provide a window on an increasingly complex and diverse contemporary Italian culture. Furthermore, it promotes the study of the Italian language through an excellent and rigorous language training program aiming to prepare its students for teaching Italian Language in Greek Secondary Education.

Since the Academic Year 2008-2009 our Faculty started a new Postgraduate Programme of studies entitled “Hellenic Roman – Hellenic Italian Studies: Literature, History and Civilization”. Its target is to promote the unique and fascinating relationship between Greece and Rome and to look into the continuous procedure of education along with the imitation of the Hellenic-Roman literature and the assimilation of its achievements by the European peoples. Postgraduate students are required to investigate the several issues that arise, and through the knowledge of Classical Antiquity, to extend their research into the later and modern relationships between the two European countries in literature, history and civilization. This Postgraduate Programme is also a clear message to the united Europe on the importance that should be given to the Greek and Italian language and culture, which are traditionally connected with the Hellenic-Roman civilization. This is rather significant since the civilization of the whole humanity has been based on the Hellenic-Roman civilization values.

A cooperation agreement between the University of Athens and the University of Perugia was filed for approval at the Ministry of Education in February 2009. This agreement concerns the operation of our Postgraduate Studies Programme which is entitled: “Teaching Italian as a foreign language”. The Programme aims to provide high-level scientific knowledge in order to produce skilled scientific workforce that will be able to meet the needs of research and teaching of Italian as a foreign language. Furthermore, the Programme aims to train graduates of the School of Philosophy as well as secondary school teachers in modern methods and theories of teaching a foreign language with the use of new technologies.

The European Union in cooperation with the Council of Europe and UNESCO had dedicated the year 2001 to languages and that year was declared as the “European Year of Languages”. Forty seven countries were involved in this celebration, including Greece. The Greek Ministry of Education had the main responsibility of organizing events in which I had an active role as the Special Secretary for Education of the Greeks Abroad and Intercultural Education. The initiatives taken by the Member States regarding this Programme on the support of the languages by the European Union aimed in raising awareness on the issue of language diversity in Europe. It also aimed in the promotion of language learning as well as the tightening of the relationships amongst the European peoples. Last but not least, the Programme pursued the recognition of languages as essential elements for the unity of the European Union. The main concept for this celebration was that the knowledge of languages is an important factor for mutual understanding between peoples, for the stability of democracy, for employment opportunities and for the mobility of the Europeans.

In a multilingual and multicultural Europe all languages are equal, because the language and culture of each nation are elements of a unique identity. According to Umberto Eco “as each language suggests a different model of the world, it is not possible to describe a single language as global, because linguistic diversity is the real wealth of Europe”.


I would like to close this brief introduction to express my sincere gratitude to each one of my distinguished colleagues who have contributed in their own ways. They have helped to carry out multiple activities of the Faculty as well as to fulfill our common goal of accurate and comprehensive education of our students and of our young scientists. The cultivation and promotion of Italian Language and Literature in Greece is indeed the outcome of their efforts too. 

Curriculum

The curriculum of the new Faculty of Italian Language and Literature focuses on the language, the literature and the culture of Italy as well as the cultural interactions between Greece and Italy.

Language and Linguistics

The Italian language courses are offered to students during all of the semesters and are a prerequisite for their educational development. The linguistics courses of the Faculty are designed to familiarize students with the basic theoretical and methodological principles of linguistic science. They cover a wide range of areas of both theoretical and applied linguistics and they provide updated knowledge on the latest trends in theoretical linguistic analysis and language teaching. Particular reference should be made about our Faculty’s courses that combine linguistics and New Technologies offering advanced knowledge and laboratory hands on experience in our students in rapidly evolving interdisciplinary fields.

Literature

The courses of Italian Literature primarily aim at teaching the main genres, literature waves and writers from the Middle Ages until today. Moreover, their target is to highlight the possibility of multiple scientific approaches within the field of Literature as well as the deeper study of literary trends on the research and teaching of Literature and Comparative Literature.

Particular emphasis is given on literary interactions between Greece and Italy. Students learn the basic principles of narratology, they exercise in textual analysis and in the use of literature. Students are also taught how to generally deal with scientific discourse.

Civilization

Culture lessons introduce students to the study of:

a) History and Civilization of Italy (Italian History and Civilization I and II, Topics in Italian History and Civilization).

b) The common history of Greeks and Italians during the long Venetian dominion in Greece (Venetian dominion – Seminar on Paleography and the Edition of historical sources).

c) Italian Theatre (Introduction to Theatre, History of Italian Theatre).

d) Italian Art (Special topics in Italian culture).

e) Italian Music (Introduction to Italian Music I and II, Special Topics in Italian Music).

Through these courses students are introduced to the issues of the cultural “conditions” of Italy and its inhabitants that created Italian language and literature.

At the same time, valuable perspective is being offered to our students through the research field of history and civilization of Italy. This perspective is cultivated by our Faculty through our Postgraduate Programme “Hellenic-Roman –Hellenic-Italian studies: History and Civilization”.