Notre Dame launches new Italian studies program

Author: Renee Hochstetler, Office of Research

Italian studies

The University of Notre Dame is home to an impressive number of scholars whose research and teaching focus on Italy. Now, thanks to support from the College of Arts and Letters and two grants awarded by the Office of Research, the University will further extend its engagement with that country in the form of an interdisciplinary program in Italian studies.

The goal is to make the University the preeminent center for interdisciplinary Italian studies outside of Italy, and to further support the Notre Dame Humanities Center in Italy. The center will establish a vibrant University presence in Rome, much like the University already has in London and Dublin.

Led by steering committee co-chairs Joseph A. Buttigieg, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English; and Theodore J. Cachey Jr., Albert J. and Helen M. Ravarino Family Director of Dante and Italian Studies, the program brings together for the first time scholars from a broad spectrum of disciplines, including architecture, art, classics, literature and history.

Italian studies,  Buttigieg and Cachey

“The Italian studies program extends and enriches the interdisciplinary character of the humanities in general and of Italian studies in particular,” Cachey said. “Our goal is to enable and promote collaboration among faculty and graduate students from diverse units of the University and to connect them with their counterparts in universities and research institutions across the world.”

Nearly 30 faculty members from more than ten departments are already engaged in various activities and collaborative research projects with their counterparts in leading universities, academies and research centers in Italy, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The Italian studies program connects these endeavors to further support existing and new working relationships. It will bring to campus resources and researchers in collaboration with other departments, institutes and programs.

“The Italian studies program exemplifies the opportunities that arise when we collaborate: if we coordinate our efforts we’ll achieve a lot more than if we work in isolation,” Buttigieg said.

Funding from the Office of Research comes from two sources: Strategic Research Investment (SRI) and the Library Acquisitions Grant programs. SRI funds will support an annual three-week interdisciplinary summer seminar in Rome and will sponsor related faculty and graduate student research projects and exchanges between Notre Dame and the University of Rome Sapienza, the Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Ambrosiana Library) in Milan, the Catholic University of Milan (Sacro Cuore), the Italian National Dictionary Project and the Universities of Cambridge and Leeds and the University of California-Berkeley, among others. The grant also will fund an administrative and teaching faculty position.

The Library Acquisitions grant, “All Roads Lead to Rome,” funds an expansion of the Hesburgh Library’s holdings on diverse aspects of Roman architecture, art and art history, classics and social and political history. Acquisitions related to cartography, monuments and travel to Rome from antiquity to the end of the early modern period will significantly enhance opportunities for interdisciplinary research at the University.

Susan Ohmer, assistant provost at Notre Dame, is pleased with the impact the Library Acquisitions Grant Program will have.

“By providing funding for a wide range of interdisciplinary materials, this grant enables students and faculty to immerse themselves in their discipline, to continue to develop their expertise, to establish strong international relationships and to further contribute to their area of study,” she said.

Contact: Joseph Buttigieg,; Theodore Cachey,