Italian students translate Italian sonnets in high-impact practice class

Italian sonnet

“I don’t like poetry because I don’t understand it.”

It was this simple statement from one of Stefania Buccini’s students that altered the semester for all nine students enrolled in Italian 321, Studies in Italian literature and culture, I.

Stefania Buccini, a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Italian, works with her students closely to make sure they are learning and growing in this high-impact undergraduate class, required for the Italian major and the certificate

Last semester students enrolled in Italian 450 translated a play, however this fall semester students spent their time translating poems composed by early-modern Italian women writers (1200-1500) into English. Buccini’s aim was to facilitate a better understanding of poetry by having students build a personal relationship with it.

While it may seem like a simple translation project, early-modern Italian is not easy to translate, especially when it is written in poems full of flare, plays on words, and phrases common to older eras. Additionally, undergraduate students aren’t exposed to a lot of poetry, especially in Italian language classes.

“Due to the challenges of old Italian, the translation process was not easy, but it was definitely rewarding,” Buccini says. “The students gained a better knowledge of Italian, and also English.  I worked closely with each student to address these difficulties and help with their understanding of the poems.”

Each student translated two sonnets and provided a short biography of their author. Buccini says each student is able to grow and learn in different ways from the project, bolstering their understanding of Italian for many years to come and improving their Italian, and English, language skills.

“[The importance of this project is] An innovative approach to learning, enhancing student creativity, reducing their fear of poetry and giving women voices an appropriate space in an introductory literature course.”

To get started in Italian classes, check out Italian 101 or 201, or learn more information on our website here.

Written By Katie Herrick, Digital and Social Media Communication Intern