The College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State encompasses nine departments, and the Armenian Studies Program. Each year, new faculty are brought on to elevate the academic offerings here at Fresno State. These new faculty members bring innovative research, diverse fields of study and technical expertise to our college, inspiring new ways of thinking throughout our many disciplines.
We are excited to welcome Dr. Andrea Polegato, who will be joining as an Assistant Professor of Italian Studies. Dr. Andrea Polegato earned his BA in History of Political Philosophy from the University of Padua, Italy and his Ph.D. in Italian Literature from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2015. He works on the political language of Niccolò Machiavelli and Florence between Quattrocento and Cinquecento. He also has a strong interest in comparative studies, in particular on the comparison between Renaissance Italy and ancient China. Currently, he is co-editing a volume on representations of the most secret and unspoken aspects of power in contemporary media and he serves as Coordinator and Book Review Editor for Annali d’Italianistica, a renowned journal on Italian literature and culture.
In its 108-year history, Fresno State has grown in size and academic merit, currently serving over 25,000 students from around the world. Polegato will create the Italian Studies program which will be housed in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures (MCLL) in the College of Arts and Humanities. The department believes that the study of a language should enable the student to participate in oral and written communication in the language, gain knowledge and understanding of the cultures of the world, connect with other disciplines and acquire knowledge that may be unavailable to the monolingual English speaker, develop insight into the nature of language and culture, and participate in communities at home and abroad.
Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?
Answer: “My biggest [thing] looking forward is the creation of a brand-new minor in Italian Studies. In the true spirit of Fresno State, we want to build a program able to reach out to as many students as possible, not only in the Humanities (Political Science, Theatre, Music, Journalism, etc.) but also in Hospitality, Engineering, and Agriculture. Indeed, Italy is not famous only for its exceptional history (the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, just to give you two examples) and its artistic manifestations but also for the innovative design in the automobile sector and in fashion, the successful winemaking production that merges together tradition and innovation, and its food culture promoting healthy food habits and an “education of taste” Italian people learn from their childhood.
“I want to bring all these experiences to Fresno State, by establishing collaborations among departments and programs, and offering new exciting courses in English such as ‘Food Culture in Italy,’ ‘Italian Movies and Media,’ ‘Game of Thrones and the Italian Renaissance,’ but I also want to bring our students to Italy for a first-hand experience –I promise– they will never forget!“
Q: Can you tell us how you became involved in your specialty area?
A: “Since my undergraduate studies, I have been interested in literature and politics. I had the fortune of studying Political Philosophy in two of the oldest universities in the world (the University of Padua and the University of Sorbonne in Paris) and Italian literature in one of the best Italian programs in the US (Indiana University, Bloomington). For my dissertation, I found it natural to combine both interests in the study of Niccolò Machiavelli, the most famous political thinker of the Renaissance, and his early writings.“
Q: What will your distinctive background do to elevate the MCLL Department offerings here at Fresno State?
A: “I have ideas and plans I developed throughout the years to strengthen the Italian program. For example, a series of brand-new courses in Italian and English, new online and hybrid courses, cultural activities outside class such as pasta demonstrations, movie nights, Italian soccer tournaments, etc. I also want to bring to my students my extended experience in organizing summer study abroad programs, combining together the best of Italian art, architecture, culture, and business.”
Q: What are you reading?
A: “I have just finished reading for the second time Ben Pastor’s A Dark Song of Blood (Kaputt Mundi): a crime story set in Rome during WWII that has as protagonist a German officer, Martin Bora.“
Q: What is a book you think everyone should read?
A: “Being a Machiavelli scholar, I obviously suggest The Prince. I still remember my first impression of it back in high school: so powerful, bold and original in describing the secret mechanism of power. It is one of the most studied, required and read books in college, everybody should read it. For those who are interested, I intend to offer soon a reading group on The Prince. Follow the Italian program on Facebook group and on Instagram @Italfresno for updates!“
Q: When are your office hours?
A: “My office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-10 a.m. and from 12-2 p.m. in PB 521, but I am also available by appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org.“