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Introduction to Italian philology. Editing an Italian text


Admission requirements

  • A bachelor in Linguistics.

  • A study programme that includes at least one of these courses: Italian Linguistics, History of Italian, Italian philology. The course must be taken successfully for at least 5 EC before the enrollment.

  • A proficiency in spoken Italian at CELFR level B2-C1, other skills in Italian at level C1.

  • A proficiency in oral English at CELFR level C1.


This course will tackle fundamental issues for readers of all time: is the text I'm reading reliable? Does the text form respect the author's last wish?

In this sense, many classics of Italian literature are emblematic. Their modern editions are based on manuscripts and old prints, but are the originals still existing? Well, the answer is not obvious.
This course will deal with some relevant cases. For instance, the Comedy by Dante has been transmitted through 6 main copies, but the complete original perhaps never existed; the Canzoniere by Petrarch has been received through a manuscript written in part by the author and in part by his scrivener; the Boccaccio's Decameron last autograph is incomplete, and it has been reconstructed by the means of a previous version. In addition, non-Tuscan writers had to face problems with the literary language. This was the case of Tasso who did not authorize any of the two editions of his Gerusalemme Liberata, and Manzoni who wrote three versions of his Promessi Sposi.

Thus, the course program aims at illustrating:

  • the principles of philology applied to texts in Italian varieties,

  • case studies of how texts were created and transmitted,

  • the consequences on written literary language,

  • how to edit an Italian text for the modern reader.  

Course objectives

The course is intended to provide:

  • the theoretical and practical understanding of the Italian philology (e.g. the stemmatic method and the interpretation of textual variants),

  • the insight of the main aspects in the historical grammar of Italian,

  • the skills to critically analyse literary texts in order to identify the cultural and material aspects of language use in authors,

  • the skills to apply scientific methods in editing a text in Italian and its varieties,

  • the ability to write a MA thesis in Italian, preferably in form of a critical edition of a brief document.


The timetable is available on the website sito

Mode of instruction

Seminar and workshop

Course Load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Lectures: 26

  • Study of compulsory literature: 50

  • Preparation test: 10

  • Writing paper: 192

  • Exam(s): 2

Assessment Method

  • Written test: test (8 multiple choice questions on linguistic phenomena, 3 closed questions on disciplinary principles, 1 textual analysis with 4 closed questions)

  • Paper on one of the course’s topic (10-20 A4 pages)


Test: 40%
Paper: 60%


The student does only take the resit for the parts of the finel test that were insufficient.

Exam review

The exam review can be organized within 30 days after publication of the exam results.


Blackboard will be used for PowerPoint presentations on course contents and extra material when needed

Reading list

  • G. Inglese, Come si legge un'edizione critica. Elementi di filologia italiana: Roma, Carocci, 2006,

  • C. Fahy, Saggi di bibliografia testuale: Padova, Antenore, 1988 (chapters I-VI),

  • Support readings will be given during lessons if necessary.


Students should register through uSis. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail

When registering, students that are registered for the specialisation that this course belongs to, or the Research Master, take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies.

General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Claudio Di Felice

Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof


The language of instruction is Italian. However, English can be adopted in class if needs of students so require.