Bringing language classes to the Princeton University Art Museum is a way to hone students’ language skills and to discuss questions of cultural context and influence all while engaging with original works of art.

The following three models of discussion have proven effective in structuring language class visits.

  1. introductory level class, held mostly in English, looking at culturally relevant objects and incorporating key terms in the target language to familiarize students with different materials and styles
  2. intermediate or advanced class held in both the target language and in English (with English used mostly to describe techniques)
  3. advanced class conducted entirely in the target language

Benefits of leading a Museum-based language class:

  • Connecting with original works of art enables students to turn their attention outward and lessens their discomfort with constructing sentences in a foreign language.
  • Using repetition to reinforce familiar vocabulary and introduce new terminology in a foreign language dovetails with rephrasing stylistic observations in front of a work of art.
  • Examining works from different regions that share a language enables students to connect to past material cultures and to apply their language skills to an experience outside the classroom.

Examples of Past Visits

Many Italian precepts were held at the Princeton University Art Museum between 2016 and 2018. The classes varied widely in scope and pedagogic approach, and the instructors worked closely with the curator of academic programs to develop tailored plans for each of the visits, with the shared experience being one of close looking. Faculty in the Department of French and Italian noted students’ willingness to use Italian vocabulary that helped them “connect their learning of the language with Italian culture.” The classes are listed below with the corresponding checklists of artwork examined during each visit.

1) Anna Cellinese, Sara Teardo, and Elisa Dossena, ITA 101: Beginner’s Italian
2) Daniele de Feo, Sara Teardo, and Elisa Dossena, ITA 102: Beginner’s Italian II
3) Daniele de Feo and Sara Teardo, ITA 1027: Intensive Intermediate and Advanced Italian
4) Anna Cellinese and Daniele De Feo, ITA 107: Advanced Italian
5) Pietro Frassica and Alessandro Giammei, ITA 220: Italian Civilization through the Centuries
6) Simone Marchesi, ITA/MED 303: Dante’s Inferno
7) Alessandro Giammei, ITA/COM/GSS 305: A Gendered History of the Avant-Garde: Bodies, Objects, Emotions, Ideas
8) Pietro Frassica, ITA 306: The Italian Renaissance: Literature and Society
9) Pietro Frassica, ITA 308: Topics in 20th-Century Italian Literature: 20th-Century Italian Fiction
10) Gaetana Marrone-Puglia, ITA 312 / VIS 445: Fascism in Italian Cinema
11) Gaetana Marrone-Puglia ITA314/COM387: Risorgimento, Opera, Film
12) Pietro Frassica, ITA 319: The Literature of Gastronomy

Please contact Veronica White, curator of academic programs, to design a gallery visit for your course.