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Collection Development Policy

Italian Language and Literature

Italian Language & Literature
Sarah G. Wenzel


Brief overview of the collection


Italian language and literature materials have been collected since the founding of the University.  The collection was housed in the Harper Library until the building of the Regenstein Library.

 Broad subject areas emphasized & de-emphasized

The collection encompasses literature originally written in Italian and the Italian language (or its predecessors) from the medieval to the 21st century.  The geographic focus of the collection is on Italy; therefore, literatures in Italy from outside of the peninsula are collected selectively.  Strengths of the collection reflect both the past and current curricular and research emphases of faculty.  In particular, there is a strong coverage of the Medieval and Renaissance periods.  More recent areas of interest include women writers, and contemporary literature.  Linguistic materials are acquired to support instruction and research interests.  Materials covering dialects are also included on a very selective basis.

Description of academic program

The Romance Languages and Literature department offers a BA, MA & PhD in Italian literature.  In addition, the collection supports students obtaining a PhD in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies; an MA in the Humanities (MAPH); a BA, MA or PhD in Comparative Literature; or a BA or PhD in Linguistics.


The collection supports instruction and student research through the PhD level, as well as faculty research. Students and faculty members in the Romance Languages and Literature department are the primary users of the collection.  However, users from other departments (e.g., Linguistics, Music, and Comparative Literature) and from other programs (e.g., the MA in the Humanities, Cinema and Media Studies), as well as interdisciplinary centers rely on the collections.  Secondarily, the literature collection supplies material for reading outside of coursework for the university community as a whole.


Collecting Guidelines

Levels of selection

Comprehensive, research, instructional support, basic information; for a description of these levels, see the general policy statement.

Romance Philology and Languages – Ræto-Romance (PC 901-986)

Includes Ladino language and literature, both collected at the basic information level.

 Romance Languages – Italian (PC 1001-1999)

Covers all aspects of the language (political, social, economic), as well as language acquisition, translation, etymology and lexicography. This area is collected at the research level in materials published in Western languages.  Dictionaries, grammars and encyclopediæ are collected at the research level, excluding bilingual dictionaries from languages other than English or Italian (unless there is no equivalent available). Other materials are collected at the basic information level.

Italian Literature –  History and Criticism (PQ 4001-4181)

Collected at the research level in materials published in Western languages, particularly Italian and English. 

 Italian Literature – Folk Literature (PQ 4186-4199)

Collected at the instructional support level in Western Languages.

Italian Literature – Juvenile (PQ 4199.5)

Collected at the basic information level.

Italian Literature (PQ 4201-4296)

Covers literature in Italian from 1500 to present.  Collected at the research level in materials published in Western languages, particularly Italian and English.

 Italian Literature – Regional, Provincial, Local, Outside of Italy (PQ 5901-5999)

Includes literary history, biography, criticism, and collections of the literature of provinces, regions, including countries with Italian literature outside of Italy (e.g., Switzerland, France, etc.), as well as former Italian colonies and Italian literature outside of Europe.  Collected at the instructional support level.  The library’s collection is supplemented by the very strong holdings at Northwestern University.


Type of materials included and excluded

Literary works, critical literature, dictionaries, encyclopediæ and grammars are all actively acquired.  These include journals, monographs, and series, either in print or online.  Graphic novels, a growing field of scholarship and research, are also acquired selectively.

Spoken word recordings and performances are acquired on a very selective basis. 

Artist’s books are acquired on an extremely selective basis, in consultation with the Art Bibliographer and Special Collections.  The library purchases facsimiles very selectively, as funds allow, and based on faculty recommendation or to build on established special collections.

Unrevised dissertations available online through the Library’s subscription to Proquest Digital Theses and Dissertations are excluded


Physical formats included and excluded

An increasing percentage of the journal collection is available online rather than in print.  The print monograph is still preferred over the electronic.  However, reference works online are preferred over print.

Microform is acquired selectively. Microforms of individual items are usually obtained upon faculty or student request.  Large sets of microforms are purchased as funds allow.

CD-ROMs are acquired extremely selectively.  CDs and DVDs are collected; however, LPs and videocassettes are not acquired.


Publication dates collected

Emphasis is given to the acquisition of current titles, but appropriate earlier imprints are acquired, when possible, to fill gaps in the collection. Titles published before 1800 are selected in collaboration with the Director of the Special Collections Research Center.



Titles are chosen for their importance regardless of language; however, English and Italian, are preferred. Critical literature in German, French, and Spanish is also collected, although more selectively. English translations of important works are purchased selectively; French, Spanish, German or Italian translations of works originally published in languages likely to be less familiar to patrons are also considered selectively. The Romance Literatures Bibliographer relies on several Area Studies selectors for non-English and non-Italian language materials published in Africa, China and Japan, and for most titles published in South Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.


Geographical range

The emphasis is on titles published in Western Europe, North America and Latin America, with a more limited acquisition of bilingual and English-language works from China and Japan. Materials from Africa are acquired on a selective basis, in coordination with the selector for African Studies.


Chronological span

Titles from the medieval period to the present are collected.  Selection of materials published prior to that period is the responsibility of the Classics Bibliographer. 


Related University of Chicago collections

The Italian Women Writers project is directly related, and both draws from and contributes to to the collection. Increasingly, aspects of other subjects, e.g., psychology, law, medicine, film, are important to literary scholarship.  Students in Italian literature use many of the other subject collections depending on their areas of interest.


Cooperative arrangements and related collections

Other libraries in Chicago complement the University of Chicago’s collections in Italian language and literature. These include Northwestern University (Africana, early 20th-century movements, journalism) and the Newberry Library (illuminated manuscripts, early Italian printed books, dialectology).  We rely on the Center for Research Libraries for newspapers, foreign dissertations, and some large microform sets.