This presentation reflects on the outcomes of two projects carried out in the Italian Program at the University of Chicago with the objective to encourage intercultural reflection through written exchanges between American students and Italian high school students. These two intercultural projects used different platforms and modalities. The first one was carried out through an MIT exchange site called Cultura, and successfully encouraged intercultural reflection between first-year students of Italian and Sardinian students from Liceo Classico G.M. Dettori.
In the American Italian departments, the use of literature for the development of second culture competence in the language courses tend to be sporadic. In fact, the teaching of language, culture and literature is likely to take place separately. Often, the teaching of Italian literature in the target language is restricted to upper division courses, whereas the introduction of literature in the language courses is not expected at the upper division level. On the other hand, the development of second culture acquisition has a tendency to be restricted to specific cultural courses.
Italian language is immediately associated with a single nation: Italy. It is therefore very important for students of Italian to be exposed to texts and audiovisual materials that show the country, where the language they study is actually spoken, as it really is. Italy has changed a great deal in the last thirty years: it has become multicultural, and it has experienced the fall of the political party system that came into being after World War II.