Since Patricia Lyn Richards came to Kenyon in 1987, Italian has become a permanent part of the College curriculum, staffed now with two tenure track faculty positions. Richards did her graduate work in Italian (Rutgers, MA, PhD) and undergraduate study in art history (Reed College, Rutgers, BA). She came to Kenyon after several years teaching in the English department at Rutgers and a year at UCLA in the Italian department. At Kenyon she teaches all levels of language and a range of literature, culture and film courses.

Her research interests in earlier Italian literature focus on the works of Giovanni Della Casa, sixteenth century humanist prelate and poet; she presented a Kenyon presidential lecture on "Virtue, Beauty and the Body in a Renaissance Conception of Courtesy" in 2007. She has participated in several NEH summer programs, most recently "Inquisitions and Persecutions in Early Modern Europe and the Americas," as well as in a Newberry Mellon Institute on Italian paleography.

In service to the profession, she has reviewed programs and advised as reader of national grant applications. Currently she is writing a study on the ethical implications of courtesy for humanists in the early Cinquecento.

Areas of Expertise

Medieval and Renaissance poetry, Italian cinema.


1993 — Doctor of Philosophy from Rutgers U Rutgers College

1979 — Master of Arts from Rutgers U Rutgers College

1973 — Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers U Rutgers College, Phi Beta Kappa

Courses Recently Taught

This is the first half of a yearlong course for students who are beginning the study of Italian or have studied it only minimally. The first semester's work comprises an introduction to Italian as a spoken and written language. The work includes practice for understanding and using the spoken and written language. Written exercises, themes, oral reports and readings develop communicative skills. Coursework includes daily homework, chapter tests, a midterm and an end-of-semester test. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Students enrolled in the course are automatically added to ITAL 112Y for the spring semester. No prerequisite. Offered every fall.

This is the second half of a yearlong course for students who are continuing the study of Italian from first semester. The second semester entails more advanced work in the use of the spoken and written language. Literary and cultural materials develop reading ability and provide topics for discussion and oral presentations, as well as for writing assignments. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Prerequisite: ITAL 111Y or equivalent with permission of instructor. Offered every spring.

The second-year intermediate-level Italian course presents cultural themes of Italian life and continues the study of language structures begun in first-year Italian. The course treats contemporary issues such as migration and changing familial arrangements, as well as Italy’s artistic contributions to world culture, to place the country and her people in a global context. The course introduces the exceptional regional variation in geography and history that marks the country’s development from antiquity to the present. Language proficiency develops through classroom discussion, oral presentations and written themes as students gain greater control of linguistic structures. Short literary selections by such authors as Dacia Maraini and Elsa Morante offer an introduction to literature in Italian. Films provide a visual complement to the written word to show the language as spoken by Italians in Italy’s unique natural and urban environment. This course includes required practice sessions with an a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Students enrolled in the course are automatically added to ITAL 214Y for the spring semester. Prerequisite: ITAL 111Y-112Y or equivalent. Offered every fall.

The second semester of intermediate Italian continues the format of ITAL 213Y and examines the forms and usage of all verbal moods to understand the sequence of tenses that underpins proficient communication in Italian. Cultural topics include science, work, sports, fashion and media. Students read selections from Italo Calvino, Dino Buzzati and Dario Fo, among others. Biweekly compositions apply the vocabulary and structures studied in each chapter. Written assignments culminate in a short paper in Italian on a cultural topic. There is a written final examination with an oral component. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Prerequisite: ITAL 213Y or equivalent. Offered every year.

The topics studied may vary from year to year and have included "Fellini on Lust, Love and Loss" and "Rossellini, De Sica and Neorealism," among others. The course is discussion-based and aims to develop an understanding of and appreciation for both Italian cinema’s contribution to the art of film and its visual expression of Italian culture. Coursework includes oral presentations, short papers and a final exam. The course emphasizes the development of writing and research skills. It is open to first- and second-year students outside of MLL, as well as any students doing degree work in MLL who wish to use the course to satisfy advanced requirements in Italian. It may be repeated one time for a maximum of 1.0 unit of credit if the content is substantially different the second time. The course is taught in English. This counts toward the film major and the fine arts distribution requirement when paired with another film course. Attendance at film screenings is required. No prerequisite. Generally offered every year.

This course offers an opportunity to study on an individual basis an area of special interest — literary, cultural or linguistic — under the regular supervision of a faculty member. It is offered primarily to candidates for honors, to majors and, under special circumstances, to potential majors and minors. Individual study is intended to supplement, not to take the place of, regular courses in the curriculum of each language program. Staff limitations restrict this offering to a very few students. To enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the MLL department willing to direct the project and, in consultation with him or her, write a one-page proposal for the IS which must be approved by the department chair before the individual study can go forward. The proposal should specify the schedule of reading and/or writing assignments and the schedule of meeting periods. The amount of work in an IS should approximate that required on average in regular courses of corresponding levels. At a minimum, the department expects the student to meet with the instructor one hour per week. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study by the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval.