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Italian Language and Literature

Fribourg profile

The doctoral programme in Italian Language and Literature at the University of Fribourg aims to provide a fostering framework for students' scientific training in the field of Italian studies (literature, linguistics, philology) by giving them a solid foundation in methodology, history and culture. The approach traditionally taken to Italian studies at the University of Fribourg, including the doctoral programme, dates back to Gianfranco Contini and Giuseppe Billanovich and has been continued by Giovanni Pozzi, Aldo Menichetti and Alessandro Martini. In this context, particular emphasis is placed on research projects aimed at producing critical and/or annotated text editions, notably of poetry (with a particular focus on the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque, as well as on literary modernism), and on the history of the tradition and reception of classical (Greco-Roman and Italian) authors from the 13rd and 18th centuries. In collaboration with the Swiss Literary Archives of the Swiss National Library in Bern, we also encourage projects dealing with authors of Italian-language Swiss literature of the 20th and 21st centuries.
This programme offers doctoral students scientific training in the different branches of Italian studies: literature and the history of literature, philology, linguistics and the history of the language, and literary criticism theory. In all these fields, special attention is paid to aspects of the methodology of research and academic teaching. The intellectual autonomy of doctoral students as players in the field of scientific research is fostered by means of specific objectives and varied activities: personal study and research with the aim of producing a high-quality thesis; attendance and organisation of colloquia and seminars on specific research issues; participation in intensive courses and research workshops on cross-cutting issues allowing them to acquire a broad and diverse range of skills. In addition, doctoral students are given guidance in building up their own scientific research network through exchanges and collaborations with the principal actors in academic research and teaching in Switzerland, Italy and Europe. To this end, students are recommended to spend periods abroad. The most suitable partner university for candidates' research projects is chosen in line with individual needs and requirements.

The programme is aimed at young, highly qualified researchers from Switzerland or the European academic network who, after a master's degree, wish to continue their training to the highest level. It fosters dialogue and exchanges between the doctoral students themselves and between them and eminent specialists on the teaching staff or from the Swiss and international research milieu.

Doctoral students must enrol at the Doctoral School of Italian Studies (Scuola dottorale in Studi italiani) and participate in the scientific activities it offers. Back in 2011, the Department of Italian of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Fribourg set up a Doctoral School of Italian Studies in collaboration with Geneva University's Italian Unit and Lausanne University's Italian Section, with the support of CUSO (Conférence Universitaire de Suisse Occidentale).

The Doctoral School of Italian Studies was inspired by the Séminaire de Troisième Cycle Romand en Italien, which was launched in 1976 on the initiative of Giovanni Pozzi (professor of Italian Literature at the University of Fribourg from 1960 to 1988) and took place until 2011. Continuing the same spirit of internal collaboration and international openness of the Séminaire de Troisième Cycle, the Doctoral School is a place where young highly qualified research students meet and train. As part of its activities, the School also promotes exchanges with other private and public universities in Switzerland (Basel, Bern, Lugano, Saint-Gall, Zürich) which are not members of CUSO. Its relations with Italian-speaking Switzerland also deserve a special mention, as some of the School's activities are organised in Ticino. With this presence south of the Alps, the Doctoral School hopes to encourage teachers from secondary schools in Ticino and Grisons to take part regularly as auditors. These activities are recognised as continuing education courses.

Professors who are eligible to supervise theses

Italian literature

  • Prof. Uberto Motta

Areas of specialisation:
– Italian literature of the Renaissance (notably, Baldassarre Castiglione, the artist-writers and the literary culture of the Italian courts from 1500-1530)
– Italian literature of the 20th century (notably, modern and contemporary poetry tradition, with a special focus on the period 1930-1990)
– Theory of literature and history of literary criticism

  • Prof. Paolo Borsa

Areas of specialisation:
– Italian literature of the Middle Ages
– Italian literature of the 18th and 19th centuries
– Literary correspondence
– Political poetry
– Dante Alighieri
– Ugo Foscolo

  • Dr Sandra Clerc

Areas of specialisation:
– Humanism and the Renaissance
– Theatre literature
– Reception of the classics
– The literature of Italian-speaking Switzerland

Italian philology

  • Prof. Christian Genetelli

Areas of specialisation:
– Italian literature of the 19th and 20th centuries
– Literary correspondence of the modern period
– Giacomo Leopardi
– Eugenio Montale
– Genetic criticism and «critica delle varianti»
– The literature of Italian-speaking Switzerland

Studies organisation

Structure of studies

No ECTS credits can be earned.

Doctoral school



In order to be admitted to a doctorate the candidate must have been awarded an academic bachelor's and master's degree or an equivalent qualification from a university recognised by the University of Fribourg.

Before applying for a doctorate the candidate must contact a professor who would be willing to supervise the thesis work.

There is no general right to be admitted to a doctorate.

The respective conditions of admission for each doctoral study programme are reserved.