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Italian American Studies

Italian American Studies is a broad and interdisciplinary Academic Minor which focuses on the origins, developments and reframing of Italian culture and society in relation to the Americas, with a particular emphasis on the United States. It is designed to assist students in exploring the ways in which Italian and American cultures have combined to form a distinctive yet multifaceted social group.

Italian American Studies offers all students at Stony Brook an opportunity to survey the developments of this dynamic field in general through introductory courses which satisfy distribution requirements. It also offers the opportunity to concentrate on several of its aspects by electing to do a Minor, which requires 21 credits. Thus a student can explore in depth and breadth the complexity of the history, literature, cinema, a variety of cultural phenomena and events, as well as the politics, iconography and symbolisms of generations of Italians who settled in North America. The exodus of Italians towards the Americas has historically represented one of the largest demographic shifts in the world: 25 million in less than a century. Consequently, against the many revolutions and evolution of societies in the twentieth century, the Program addresses issues relating to migration, assimilation, journeying and rebirth, gender and race, identity creation, economics, popular culture and public service. These crucial areas of investigation have the added advantage of furnishing a framework to explore and relate to other Americans who may have had similar experiences.

 A Minor in Italian American Studies can thus be fruitfully combined with a Major in a number of disciplines, from political science to history, from sociology to psychology, form urban studies to media studies, and of course from Italian and European Studies to English and American Studies.  The Minor is particularly important for Secondary Education teachers, not only owing to the large percentage of Italian Americans actually residing in Suffolk County and the Tri-State area in general, but also because it offers critical insights into the complexity of identity formation in pre-college youths, the shifty grounds of ethnic politics, and a global view on migrations past and present. This kind of historical and critical background is very useful also to understand better new immigrants and an ever more diversified student body, irrespective of field of study.

Formal study of Italian American culture, in the university, is a relatively recent phenomenon. A major professional organization, The American Italian Historical Association, founded in 1967 and recently renamed The Italian American Cultural Association, has been instrumental in validating this important, rich, and empowering field of learning and research. Through the 1980s and early 1990s academic journals such as Italian Americana and VIA Voices in Italian Americana have given it diverse platforms for both, in depth specialized  literary analyses as well as wide-ranging and comparative approaches.  Most recently another major journal, The Italian American Review, has been relaunched to explore issues in folklore, sociology and cultural anthropology. The number of publications and events relating to Italian American culture now numbers in the thousands, both in the United States and worldwide.


The minor in Italian-American Studies offers the opportunity to acquire an understanding of the historical and social forces that shape the Italian-Americans in the United States. Students who wish to complete the program must establish an advisement folder with the program director who supervises their progress as they fulfill the requirements.The completion of the Minor in Italian-American Studies requires 21 credits. All courses offered to fulfill the requirements of the minor must be passed with a grade of C or higher.

  • ITL 311 or ITL 312: 3 credits
  • HUI 236: 3 credits
  • HUI 237 or HUI 239 or HUI 216: 3 credits
  • HUI 333, HUI 336, HUI 338, HUI 390: 12 credits

Substitutions may be allowed when required courses are not available. See adviser of the program.


Giuseppe Gazzola, Program Director