Skip to contentSkip to site navigation


New Course: Italian Food: Facts and Fiction (ITAL 180)

Spring 2019
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30–2:45pm.
The course is offered in English and is open to all classes.


Simona Bondavalli


The course investigates the development of Italian culinary traditions in relation to local, regional, and national identities; the long-standing cultural association of Italy with food, both within the national boundaries and without, particularly in the US; and the representation of food across various media (film, fiction, cookbooks, television programs, advertising), since the 19th century, focusing particularly on key moments of change in the history of the modern nation, such as: the national unification, the Fascist regime and the war, the post-war economic miracle, the women’s movement in the 1970s, and immigration in the 21st century.

We examine the ways in which representations of food construct or challenge specific images of Italy and Italians, and consider the problematic notion of authenticity so frequently applied to certain dishes, ingredients, or culinary habits. We explore the lasting importance of cities in Italian food history, and the nostalgia for the countryside that urban life projects onto food marketing in the late 20th century. The changing roles of women and their relation to food preparation and consumption, as well as to the transmission of knowledge, are central to the course inquiry. The iconic status of Italy as “Slow Food nation” on one hand, and the lamented “foodification” of the country on the other also constitute topics of discussion.

View ITAL 180 in the Vassar College Catalogue