Spotlight on Italian American Studies at Montclair State University: New Courses in the Fall

Martin Scorsese by the Camera

Part of the fascinating and colorful cultural history of the Garden State has been written -- and continues to be written -- by the over 18% of New Jersey’s population that self-identifies as being of Italian origin. From the summer Feast of Saint Sebastian in Montclair to the Botto House American Museum of Labor in Haledon and the breathtaking Futurist polyptych by Joseph Stella housed at the Newark Museum, right around the Montclair State University campus, there are numerous opportunities to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and flavors of Italian American culture.


But, did you know that right on the Montclair State University campus it’s also possible to study Italian American culture as a discipline, and, soon, to minor in it? The Department of Spanish and Italian and the History Department have offered well-enrolled specialized classes like The Italian American Experience (ITAL 275) and Italian American History (HIST 216) for years, and, since 2005, the idea of offering a minor in Italian American Studies has been taking on more and more momentum. Now spearheaded by Dr. Teresa Fiore, who joined the Italian faculty in 2011 as the Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, the new minor in Italian American Studies is poised to become a reality in the very near future. When approved, the Italian American Studies Minor at Montclair State University will be the first in the New Jersey/Pennsylvania area (the only existing program in the U.S. is at SUNY Stony Brook).


MSU students and auditors – indeed, classes are open to auditors from the community who would like to come back to school -- will be able to take a number of exciting courses that will make up the menu of the Italian American Studies minor, from Introductory Italian language courses to a new Sociolinguistics course on the Italian Language in the United States (slated for Spring 2013), for example. For the first time at MSU, this Fall 2012 semester, Dr. Fiore will be teaching “Italian Americans in Film” (ITAL 345, Special Topics) on Mondays and Thursdays, 1-2:15. If you are interested in a critical analysis of popular films such as Goodfellas and The Godfather, a reading of ethnic representation in classics such as Do The Right Thing and Kiss of Death, and the historical evolution of on-screen images of Italian Americans from The Sheikh with Rudolph Valentino to Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta, this course is for you!  Surveying a wide spectrum of film genres, the course will cover well-known directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee, as well as  independent filmmakers like Nancy Savoca and Kym Ragusa. Related to the course will be a number of enticing cultural events featuring special guests (visit the Inserra website for updated calendar:


For more information about taking the Italian Americans in Film course or to support the project to offer an Italian American Studies minor at Montclair State University, please feel free to contact Dr. Teresa Fiore ( or Dr. Marisa S. Trubiano (


See you in September!