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 (IT301: The Discourse of Love) and a beginner Italian language course (IT102). In the spring, he will teach a topics course on Dante's 'Divine Comedy' (IT322) and a Senior Seminar on Boccaccio's 'Decameron' (IT400). Prof. McMenamin has participated in the LGBTQQIA Pride@Dickinson Safe Zone Training.


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

2017-2018 Academic Year

Fall 2017

ITAL 103 Accelerated Italian
Accelerated study of the fundamentals of Italian language with the goal of developing reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Designed for native or proficient speakers of Spanish, French, or Portuguese, this course covers in one semester what is usually taught in two courses (IT101 and IT102). Due to the intensive nature of this course, students should plan to commit themselves to a fast-paced learning environment. Upon successful completion, students will be prepared to take IT201. There is no lab, but students are expected to attend the weekly Italian Table.Prerequisites: Two semesters of college study in a Romance Language (other than Italian) or 3 years of high school study in a Romance Language (other than Italian); or be native or heritage speaker of a Romance Language (other than Italian). Non-native speakers will be assessed through a placement test or a conversation with the instructor.

ITAL 301 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 2018

ITAL 322 Dante's Divine Comedy
Cross-listed with ENGL 351-02.

ENGL 351 Dante's Divine Comedy
Cross-listed with ITAL 322-01. This topics course is on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Although a special focus will be placed on the Inferno, which will be read in its entirety, various cantos from Purgatorio and Paradiso will also be studied. Aiding the students along their journey through Hell and beyond will be critical readings that consider the historical, social, cultural and literary context of the period. The poem will be read in English translation. Italian Studies majors, Italian minors and INBM majors using this course to satisfy major/minor requirements will attend a discussion group in Italian and will write their papers in Italian. Upon successful completion of the work in Italian, students will receive a “FLIC: Italian” notation on their transcript.

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. Students will be guided to study the use of rhetoric as a means of empowerment from a variety of perspectives. The course will culminate in a research project of interdisciplinary nature that reflects each student’s personal interests.