Italian Language and Literature


The Yale University Library has a long tradition of collecting materials in Italian language and literature, and the Sterling Memorial Library’s collection is among the most comprehensive in the United States. The main body of the Italian literature collection is in Sterling Memorial Library. Virtually all periods of Italian literature are covered, including the vernacular literature before Italian, and the Italian literature from the Middle Ages to the present. Highly specialized or dated works are in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

In addition to the extensive collection of Italian literature, Sterling Library houses a rich array of resources related to the Italian language, including reference works, bibliographies, works on origin and history of language, lexicographical works, and comparative language studies. The collection also includes works on and in many Romance regional languages of the Italian Peninsula, such as Sicilian, Venetian, and Tuscan dialect.

The library seeks to support research and teaching through targeted acquisitions, both of new materials and retrospectively. In recent decades, this has resulted in particularly strong collections in the early medieval Latin literature, Renaissance literature (especially the core topics such as Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch), the literature of the Italian Enlightenment (Ariosto, Machiavelli, Vico, Parini, Gozzi, Alfieri, Foscolo, Tasso); 19th century literature and culture (Manzoni, Leopardi); 20th century Italian fiction and criticism (Montale, Pirandello, Ungaretti, Svevo, Pavese, Buzatti, Moravia, Gadda). Current collecting for Sterling Memorial Library includes fiction, literary theory and criticism, literary sociology, aesthetics, comparative literature, general literature, folklore, reference works and bibliographies, anthologies, and works on humanism and scholarship. 

Departments/disciplines/programs/subject areas supported

  • Department of Comparative Literature
  • Department of Italian
  • Department of Linguistics
  • The Literature Major
  • Program in Medieval Studies
  • Program of Film and Media Studies
  • Program of Theater Studies
  • Program of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Renaissance Studies Program

Because Italian language and literature have cross-disciplinary implications, these collections also offer support for research and teaching in other Western European language and literature departments (e.g., English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, German) as well as area studies such as African Studies.

Formats collected


  • Academic and trade press monographs are acquired in print or electronic formats.
  • Maps and textbooks are generally excluded unless requested by faculty.


  • Online-only subscriptions are preferred; print subscriptions are initiated or continued when an online edition is not available, not stable, or not adequate.

Reference materials

  • Electronic reference materials, including indexing and abstracting databases, dictionaries, and encyclopedias, are almost always preferred to their print counterparts. Print reference materials are acquired when an online version is not available, not stable, or not adequate.

Audiovisual materials

  • DVDs are acquired very selectively, primarily in response to faculty demand.


  • Yale Library has extensive microform holdings supporting Italian language and literature. However, due to the increasing conversion of microform collections to digital formats and the interlibrary loan availability of microform sets from the Center for Research Libraries, microform supporting Italian language and literature is now acquired on demand only.

Languages collected

Primary (literary) texts are collected first in Italian and, if available, in English translation. For the most important writers (e.g., Leopardi, Pirandello, and Ungaretti), some editions are acquired in other major European languages. Criticism and theory are collected in Italian and in English, with important contemporary critical works also acquired in other languages, especially German, French, and Spanish. 

Chronological and geographical focus

Current materials are emphasized, with out of print materials purchased to replace damaged or lost copies of significant works, or in response to faculty or student requests.

In terms of time periods covered in the materials themselves, the collections run the gamut from medieval to contemporary. 

Materials published in North America (excluding Mexico) and Western Europe are collected extensively (essentially in Italy, Italian speaking part of Switzerland, in Malta and in former Italian African colonies). All other geographic areas of the world are collected selectively.

Collaborations within Yale

  • The International Collections acquire material in Italian language and literature for their respective regions: African Collection, East Asia Collection, Judaica Collection, Latin America Collection, Near East Collection, Slavic and East European Collection, Southeast Asia Collection, and the South Asia Collection.
  • Collaboration within HCRE (Humanities Collections and Research Education) on purchases, especially databases of wide interest to humanists including historical newspapers, pamphlets, scholarly editions, and journals.
  • Occasional collaboration with the Music Library, Divinity Library, Center for British Art, or the Law Library in purchases of or subscriptions to databases of mutual interest.
  • Bass Library

Subject Librarian

Michael Printy
Librarian for Western European Humanities
Humanities Collections
Department of Area Studies and Humanities Research Support (DASHRS)
(203) 436-9215