Faculty Profile

James McMenamin

Associate Professor of Italian (2009)

Contact Information


Bosler Hall Room 116


Prof. McMenamin specializes in medieval and renaissance Italian literature. He has published articles on Dante, Petrarch, and Italian lyric poetry and is interested in questions concerning medieval philosophy. In the fall, Prof. McMenamin will be teaching a medieval/renaissance survey of Italian literature (IT341: The Discourse of Love), IT103 (Accelerated Italian for speakers of a Romance Language other than Italian) and IT201 (Intermediate Italian). In the spring, he will teach Dante's Divine Comedy and IT231: Reading and Writing Italian Culture.


  • B.A., Middlebury College, 1996
  • M.A., 1997
  • Laurea, Università degli Studi di Firenze, 2001
  • Ph.D., Harvard University, 2008

2023-2024 Academic Year

Fall 2023

ITAL 101 Elementary Italian
Intensive study of the fundamentals of Italian grammar, with a view to developing reading, writing, speaking, and understanding skills. Laboratory and other audiovisual techniques are used. Cultural elements are stressed as a context for the assimilation of the language.

ITAL 341 The Discourse of Love
What is Love? Through a diverse selection of works from authors such as St. Francis, Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Lorenzo de' Medici, Pietro Aretino, Gaspara Stampa, and Veronica Franco, students will examine the nature of love from a variety of perspectives. From the spirituality of religion to the physicality of desire and attraction, this course will confront topics such as the medieval and Renaissance ideas of love (courtly love, the Dolce Stil Novo, and love sickness), theological notions of love (charity), different expressions of love (heterosexuality, same-sex attraction and polyamory), and transgressive types of love (lust, adultery, and prostitution). This course is taught in Italian. Prerequisites: 231 and 232, or permission of the instructor. Offered every year.

Spring 2024

ITAL 400 Boccaccio's "Decameron"
This course will focus on Boccaccio's Decameron with a critical eye on the construction of the text and the stylistic complexity of the individual novelle. A special emphasis will be placed on issues and themes related to love, sex, and sexuality, addressing these topics from various perspectives such as sex within and outside marriage, medicine, reproduction, chastity, ethics, immoral behavior, law, sex work, race, religion, and sexual violence. The course will culminate in an interdisciplinary research project that reflects each student’s personal interests.