and culture in this country. There are many instances that point to the fact that Spanish will become—de facto, if not officially—a second national language and culture of the United States. Furthermore, in Europe, Spain is assuming an ever-more significant role in the affairs of the European Union.
Hence, the knowledge of Hispanic cultures gives students much more than the ability to communicate in the third-most-spoken language of the world. It prepares them to account for an entirely different national, continental and global reality in all its complexity. Since culture is the controlling category in this field of study, the major orients itself to the types of knowledge generated by new disciplines such as cultural studies, new historicism, ethics and postcolonial studies.
The Department of History offers a variety of courses dealing with the political, social, diplomatic, intellectual, economic and cultural history of the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa, from the early medieval period to the present. The department seeks to give undergraduates both specific mastery of particular times, places and aspects of the human condition and the critical skills to think historically about both long-term and modern phenomena, emphasizing the dynamics of change and continuity over time.
History of Art
The Department of the History of Art invites students to explore the connections between the forms and meanings of visual media as part of the histories of human civilizations. As a humanistic discipline, history of art emphasizes the scholarly investigation of the visual arts rather than technical training. The program provides a solid foundation for a general arts and sciences education and for careers in communications, public relations and other fields where engagement with images and texts is paramount. Courses in the history of art also complement majors in literature, history, religion, area studies, cinema studies, studio art and others.
International Relations
International relations is a multidisciplinary course of study on the ways in which governments, private
groups and individuals relate to one another in the global political and economic systems. The major provides a solid grounding in the methodologies of political science, history and economics but also allows students maximum flexibility to pursue special interests in terms of approach and regions of the world. The curriculum draws on the best courses relevant to world politics, offers a well-rounded liberal arts education and helps prepare students for law or business school, Ph.D. programs and international careers.
The major does not require foreign language training past the regular College requirement, though an extra semester is strongly encouraged. Many international relations majors spend a semester or a year abroad.
Italian Studies
The Italian Studies section of Romance Languages offers a major or minor with courses in language, literature, film, linguistics, cultural studies and civilization for students with or without a background in Italian. At the core of our program is the study of the Italian language, understood both in the narrow sense of verbal communication, but also in the larger sense of textual messages—literary, cinematic, historical, art-historical and mass-cultural. Courses offered at the 200- and 300-level traverse both Italy’s classic literary and artistic heritage—Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio—and more contemporary cultural productions, from globally-noted Italian cinema to studies of Fascism. Majors and minors may select from a range of courses taught in Italian in the Department of Romance Languages, with which they may combine interdisciplinary offerings in art history, architecture, music and history. Study abroad is strongly encouraged; it provides cultural and linguistic immersion, easily transferable credits towards the major or minor, and the option of direct enrollment in Italian universities. A Penn-Bryn Mawr program in Florence and University-affiliated academic-year programs in Bologna, Florence and Padua are available, as is residence in La Casa Italiana in the Modern Languages House. Most majors are double majors and find that their work in Italian studies prepares them not only for further work in Italian, but also gives them a unique vantage point for careers in economics, law, science, medicine, international relations and education.