MA Italian Exam


MA Italian Language and Literature Examination

The M.A. Comprehensive is a written examination designed to ensure that the candidates have acquired a thorough overall knowledge of Italian language, culture and literature, as well as a strong competency in literary analysis.  It is divided into three four-hour tests.

Students prepare for the exams on the basis of the reading-list provided to them by the Italian faculty. In preparation for two of the three exams, students concentrate on two different periods of Italian Literature. Students select their periods from the 20th century and/or any combination of two other adjacent centuries. For the third written examination students are asked to prepare for a general, cross-century examination of an issue of his/her choice, relevant to the history of Italian literature and culture (for example: the questione della lingua; the origins, development and demise or transformation of a literary genre; Italian identity and migration; the interrelations of literature and another discipline etc.). This exam shall include a theoretical component. Students must consult with the graduate advisor and the faculty member principally responsible for the chosen topic, in order to determine a specific, appropriate reading list for their third exam.

Candidates may take all of their written examinations at the end of their fourth term or may decide to take each of them at a different date, spreading them over the course of one or more semesters. If taken at the end of the fourth term, typically the three written tests are scheduled on alternative days, the week after Spring recess for students graduating in April or the week before Thanksgiving recess for students graduating in December. Students should discuss alternative scheduling and distribution of the tests with the DGS and petition for approval. However, written examinations should be scheduled so as to be completed at least three weeks prior to the end of the term in which the student wants to graduate.

Upon review of the written examinations, the Italian faculty conducts individual oral interviews with the candidates to inform them of the results and discuss their final paper.

The University has established a statute of limitations of four years for MA candidates.

Although the department adheres to this regulation, it points out that full-time MA candidates holding Teaching Assistantships may normally not expect more than two years of financial support.

MA Reading List

The MA Reading List (PDF) establishes the minimal requirements in each area for preparation of the MA comprehensives and may be obtained in the department office. This list is intended to guide MA candidates in their preparation for the comprehensives.