The idea of moving forward—Avanti—was embraced in the early 20th century on both sides of the political spectrum.  The socialist incitement to surpass bourgeois values was captured in the title of the party’s newspaper, born in the late 19th century (the title of this presentation as well).  The futurists, politically right-leaning but certainly not artistically conservative, made forward motion and dynamism the central tenets of their aesthetic.

In our profession, we hear “Italian is declining.”  “Students are gravitating towards STEM.”  “Italian is losing students to (fill in the blank here: Mandarin?).” Italian teachers have seen this happen before, but is the situation different this time? Will Italian recover?  An AATI member throughout her professional career, Clara Orban will reflect on the profession as it currently stands.  Together, we will explore ways to increase enthusiasm in language learning and how we could make interest in all things Italian translate into increased enrollments.  Some of the questions we can ask: What factors hold us back? What new strategies could propel us forward? And most of all perhaps, what are we doing to create a fun environment for our  students so they want to stay in our classes? 

Esploriamo insieme come possiamo andare sempre più “avanti.”


Clara Orban

Clara Orban

Professor, DePaul University


Dr. Orban’s publications range from seventeenth-century linguistics to the pedagogy of upper-division Italian conversation courses. Her books include: Au travail!, a workbook for Business French; a translation of Herve Guiberts Cytomegalovirus; The Culture of Fragments: Words and Images in Futurism and Surrealism; Surrealist Case Studies: Literature, Medicine and the Arts; the novel Terra Firma, second place winner of the 2003 CNW/FFWA award for fiction, Body [in] Parts: Bodies and Identity in Sade and Guibert, and the wine appreciation book Wine Lessons: Ten Questions to Guide Your Appreciation of Wine.  Dr. Orbans’s book, The Guide to Illinois Wine, will be published in 2014.  Her articles have appeared in journals such as The French Review, Italica, and Literature and Medicine.

She is on the advisory and editorial board of the online Hektoen International: a Journal of Medical Humanities, and former chair of the board of IMPACT Chicago, an organization that teaches self-defense to women and girls so they can prevent, minimize, and stop violence.

Student interest led her to inherit Geography 350: the World of Wine. In 2007, she became a certified sommelier and leads regular wine tasting events as fundraisers.

Select Publications

  • Wine Lessons:  Ten Questions to Guide Your Appreciation of Wine. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt. Second edition March 2012.
  • Body [in] Parts: Bodies and Identity in Sade and Guibert. Lehigh, Penn: Lehigh University Press, 2008.
  • Terra Firma. A Novel. Gainesville: Florida Academic Press, 2006. 2nd printing May 2008.
  • Surrealist Case Studies. Literature, Medicine and the Arts. New Orleans: University Press of the South, 2001.
  • The Culture of Fragments: Words and Images in Futurism and Surrealism. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 1997.

Selected Awards

  • Terra Firma. CNW/FFWA Award for Fiction, 2nd Place 2006
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, DePaul University 1997
  • Gilbert Chinard Pedagogical Prize, Institut Franais de Washington, for the article A Working Model for Videocamera Use in the Foreign Language Classroom (French Review, March, 1990).


Dr. Orban has served on almost 100 committees at DePaul (university, college, department level) plus almost 40 committees outside in service to the profession or to the community.
Past service highlights include:

  • Chair, Board of Directors, IMPACT Chicago (non-profit)
  • Board of Directors, Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
  • Editorial Board, Hektoen: A Journal of the Medical Humanities
  • Modern Language Association, Language Consultancy Group (peer-selected group of department chairs to explore issues pertinent to language learning in the U.S.), 2012–


  • See Dr. Orban discuss affordable holiday wines on WCIU The U!
  • See Dr. Orban’s interview on Chicago Tonight about her book Illinois Wines and Wineries: The Essential Guide!
  • Dr. Orban’s page on Amazon.com
  • Dr. Orban discusses the geography of wine on ConversAsians.