AboutI am an associate professor of Italian language, literature and culture with twenty-four years of teaching & leadership experience at the university level. My areas of specialization are Medieval & Renaissance Italian literature and foreign (F/L2) language acquisition. Currently, my focus is on the applications of technology and digital media to language acquisition, in particular video game-based learning (VGBL). In fall 2016, as a recipient of the Saint Louis University (SLU) Reinert Center for Innovative Teaching, I developed Intensive Italian for Gamers. The course was successfully taught in the SLU state-of-the-art Learning Studio in spring 2017. I have presented my research and results in workshops and presentations, at conferences and in publications (in print and forthcoming).
I have an extensive and eclectic background in Classics (Greek and Latin, Philology, Literature), Ancient and Medieval History, Theology, Philosophy; but also in Cinema Studies, International Studies, Communications and Journalism. I definitely enjoyed the variety of my studies. I am a firm believer in multidisciplinary approaches to both learning and teaching.
EducationPh.D. in Italian: University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT), Spring 2001.
DISSERTATION: “Paradisus, locus amoenus: Tradizione e intertestualita` nel Paradiso dantesco” [Tradition and Intertextuality in Dante’s Paradise]. Number of pages: 440.
Diploma: Laurea in Lettere quadriennale (= M. A.): Universita` di Torino
DISSERTATION: “Images of Paradise in the Christian World of the First Five Centuries”. Major Advisor: Professor Lellia Cracco Ruggini (Roman History). Number of pages: 430.
SUPPLEMENTAL POST-GRADUATE INSTRUCTION (Italy):
Diploma: Participant Diploma. UNIVERSITY OF TURIN, Italy: 01/92-06/92: Graduate Course for Diplomatic and International Careers (Corso Post-Laurea di Preparazione per la Carriera Diplomatica e Carriere Internazionali): a six-month course organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the University Center of European Studies; held at the International Labor Organization Training Center in Turin, Italy. Main Subjects: International Law, Economics, History, English, French.
CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF MILAN, Italy: 11/92-06/93: School of Specialization in Social Communications-Journalism (Scuola di Specializzazione in Comunicazioni Sociali – Giornalismo): first year completed, 5 exams taken (average grade: 29/30). Subjects included Linguistics, History of Italian Cinema, History of Journalism, Composition and Style.
PublicationsRecent & Forthcoming/Invited Publications:
1. “Using Video Games to Teach Italian Language & Culture: Useful, Effective, Feasible?” In print. NEMLA Italian Studies XXXIX special issue “The Italian Digital Classroom: Italian Culture and Literature through digital tools and social media.”, 2017, pp. 42-71. Available as a PDF download and in print. https://www.buffalo.edu/content/dam/www/nemla/NIS/XXXIX/NeMLA%20Italian%20Studies%202017%20-%20Using%20Video%20Games.pdf
[published on October 6, 2018].
2. “Assassin’s Creed Taught Me Italian: Video Games and the Quest for Foreign Language Acquisition.” Invited article. In print. Profession, the Journal of the Modern Language Association. https://profession.mla.hcommons.org/2018/03/22/assassins-creed-taught-me-italian/
(published on 4/13/2018).
3. Assassin’s Creed – The Ezio Collection; The Invisible Hours; Rise of the Tomb Raider: Three mini-chapters (1,000-2,000 words each) accepted for inclusion in Learning, Education & Games Vol. 3: 100 Games to Use in the Classroom , ETC Press/Carnegie Mellon. In press (spring 2019)
4. “(E-)Life is (not) Strange: Teaching an Intensive Language Course for Gamers.” Invited book chapter. In press, spring 2019. A multidisciplinary chapter on my Intensive Italian for Gamers course in the volume “Language Learner Psychology”, Editors Mark R. Freiermuth, Department of International Communication Gunma Prefectural Women’s University, Japan & Nourollah Zarrinabadi, University of Isfahan, Iran.
5. “Unarmed prophets have always been destroyed, whereas armed prophets have succeeded:” Machiavelli’s Portrayal in the Assassin’s Creed Series. Invited publication. Benincasa, A. & Polegato, A., Machiavelli Pop. The Power and its Representations in the Media. Expected publication date: late 2019.
6. “The Ubiquitous Language Lab – Using the iPod Touch to Enhance Language and Culture Acquisition.” Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2 (2012), pp. 81-90. PDF download at http://ijq.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.186/prod.177
and in print.
7. “Enhancing language Learning and Culture through P2P.” In print: Academic Exchange Quarterly Spring 2006, pp. 33-37.
8. “Paradisus, locus amoenus: le immagini del paradiso nei primi cinque secoli dell’era cristiana.” In print: Rivista di Storia e Letteratura Religiosa, 41/2 (2005), pp. 297-328.
Projects1. “Locus Amoenus: Imitatio intertestuale/Interdiscorsiva nella Commedia (Intertextual/Interdiscoursive Imitatio in Dante’s Comedy.)” My manuscript on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Completing suggested editorial formatting revisions. Will be resubmitted to Longo Editore, Italy, in late fall 2018. It is a completely new, original work, only loosely based on part of my PhD research.
2. “Italian for Gamers” – A textbook project. This is part of my sabbatical research project. The material I created for my Intensive Italian for Gamers course will be revised and put in textbook form. The text, intended as a supplement for “regular” elementary/lower-intermediate textbooks, is about to be proposed to publishers (fall 2018). I am cooperating on this project with fellow faculty members in Italian at other US institutions, since the AAIS conference in april 2017. I am the main editor/first name, and my colleague Brandon Essary, Ph.D., Elon University, is my co-author. Our textbook is potentially translatable/adaptable/editable in all major languages.
3. “Gaming in Second/Foreign Language Acquisition” – A book project. This is a collaborative effort, currently being explored with colleagues in Italian, French, Spanish and German in universities in North America. We are at the initial, planning stage of the project: a collection of essays on digital, interactive realia, “gamification”, “serious” gaming, commercial gaming as applied to F/L2 acquisition. I would provide an introduction and one essay. We are looking to propose the manuscript to the MLA – Profession series.
4. “Inferno X: Dante & Catharism.” Article under revision.
Upcoming Talks and Conferences– Co-Presenter/Panelist at the Roundtable Session “Can AAA Games be Used to Improve Education?”, SXSW EDU Conference, Austin, TX, March 4-7, 2019 on using the Assassin’s Creed series in video game-based learning with Ubisoft Quebec ‘s Maxime Durand and Brian Stottlemyer.
– Co-Organizer and Panelist at the Roundtable Session “(Video)games, Gamification, and Game-Based Second Language Acquisition: Present and Future Approaches in the Classroom” at the AAIS Conference at Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC, 14-16 March 2019. Roundtable organizers: Simone Bregni, Saint Louis University, Brandon Essary, Elon University, Camilla Zamboni, Wesleyan University.