Advanced Fiction: Imitating Italians

A reading-based advanced fiction workshop designed to introduce students to the practice of imitation as a point of creative departure. Reading the works of a series of twentieth-century Italian masters — Ginzburg, Lampedeusa, Levi, Morante, among others — we will analyze a range of techniques and styles and focus our discussion on themes of linguistic crossing and hybrid identity. All readings will be in translation from the recently published Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories edited by Jhumpa Lahiri. Italian concentrators and certificate students will read the stories and produce all written work in Italian.

Application required.



Inherently experimental in nature, this precept afforded an entirely new and rigorous way for students to engage with the Italian language. As the students themselves observed, the course pushed them to express themselves creatively in Italian, to craft a literary voice, and to examine, on a granular level, questions of Italian syntax, grammar, and style in their own writing. At the same time, they grappled intensively with translation. The close study of Italian in a hands-on workshop such as this one not only drove students to be more nuanced critics of literary texts, but inspired them to undertake increasingly complex translation projects at the end of the semester and to delve more deeply into Italian literature of other time periods.

Read work by students in this course »




Tuesdays, 2:30-4:20 PM


Jhumpa Lahiri