MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH LITERATURE
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide students with advanced knowledge of the main literary manifestations of modernity and contemporaneity, as well as relevant and updated theoretical and methodological tools so as to enable them to develop research and analytical skills applicable to the complex manifestations of British literature and culture from the Renaissance to the present day.
During the course, students learn to:
. know a series of theoretical issues, authors, works, movements and aesthetic ideas central to modern and contemporary English and British literature, with particular attention to the period from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, with the support of an updated critical bibliography;
. contextualize and analyze complex texts in English both from the formal and from a thematic-ideological point of view;
. structure research and analysis projects independently by using traditional and digital bibliographical resources made available by the Library of the Area di Lingue e Letterature Straniere, as well as free-access resources available online;
. make informed and motivated judgments about complex literary and cultural phenomena based on a careful decoding of the text;
. communicate and discuss content, analysis and judgments in English, using a linguistic register appropriate to the subject and adapted to the lexis of literary studies, and corresponding to the level of proficiency expected for students of the relevant year of the Laurea Magistrale;
. apply autonomously the skills developed during the course also in the context of non-literary texts that present complex layers of meanings, offering well-documented analyses and justifying their own interpretations by preliminary research and careful examination of textual data.
Course contents summary
The course focuses on the various thematic and formal threads characterizing modern and contemporary English and British literature, with particular attention being given to the interconnections between the literary expressions of the period from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century, on the one hand, and those of the twentieth century and twenty-first century, on the other. In order to provide students with solid theoretical points of reference, the first part of the course examines issues of modernity and contemporaneity by reviewing some of the most relevant reflections on such concepts and categories by contemporary theorists, as well as writers belonging to crucial cultural turning points such as the Renaissance, the eighteenth century, Romanticism and Modernism. Starting from these premises, the second part of the course examines issues related to the concepts of modernity and contemporaneity in cultural, aesthetic, historical, ideological and identity-related perspectives within homogenous series of texts belonging to the period from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century, where these issues play a particularly significant role in the structuring and development of literary representations of reality. The course concentrates on texts in the original language (usually in anthological form, especially when extended works are examined) which are analyzed in terms of historical context and aesthetic features, as well as from the structural, stylistic and thematic-ideological point of view. In addition to these texts, students are required to read and study a series of integral works (three novels and a play by William Shakespeare) to be chosen from those listed in the syllabus, drawn up by the teacher at the end of the course and available on the website of the Area di Lingue e Letterature Straniere and in hard copy in the offices of the Area itself.
Andrew Sanders, “The Short Oxford History of English Literature” (Oxford Univ. Press). Additional references are provided during the course and are regularly listed in the syllabus.
During the lectures the teacher introduces the main elements of the historical and cultural context and the profiles of authors and texts, using both the course bibliography and further textual or visual materials available for students in the Library of the Area di Lingue e Letterature Straniere, such as printed and digital materials (databases), as well as materials available online at sites such as www.archive.org and Google Books. In this way, students will be invited to create their own individual study and research projects, encouraging them to carry out original approaches to and independent analyses of the issues and problems raised by the tutor during the course. The course is also supported by a seminar about a specific aspect of the literature of Great Britain in the twentieth and / or twenty-first century, focusing particularly on the textual analysis of a work related to the topics covered in the course.
Assessment methods and criteria
Assessment of knowledge and skills is by oral exam in English. The questions during the exam centre on the materials and problems discussed during the lectures and seminar, as well as on the texts and materials independently examined by the student. Moreover, in terms of personalization of the syllabus, the student may prepare an oral presentation on a topic of his/her choice (previously agreed with the teacher) related to the questions, issues, texts and authors examined in the course.
The knowledge and skills to be assessed in the exam are:
. oral proficiency in English corresponding to the level expected for students of the relevant year of the Laurea Magistrale and full competence in the specific terminology of literary studies;
. knowledge of the texts, authors, ideological contexts and formal issues examined during the course;
. the ability to study independently, to rework course content in an original way, to build personalized and original study projects, to carry out research using print and digital resources, to solve problems related to the decoding of complex texts from different historical and cultural periods, and to make autonomous judgments and communicate content, analysis and judgments in well-argumented,competent and convincing ways both to non-specialists and non-specialists.
A fail is determined by the lack, demonstrated by the student during the oral examination, of an understanding of the minimum content of the course, the inability to express oneself in English at the level of proficiency expected of students of the relevant year of the Laurea Magistrale, by a lack of autonomous preparation, the inability to solve problems related to information retrieval and the decoding of complex texts, as well as an inability to make independent judgments and communicate content, analysis and judgments in well-argumented,competent and convincing ways both to non-specialists and non-specialists. A pass (18-23/30) is determined by the demonstration on the part of the student of having learned the fundamental and minimum contents of the course, the ability to express oneself at a level of in English which, despite simplified communicative strategies, presents some characteristics of the level of proficiency expected of students of the relevant year of the Laurea Magistrale, an adequate level of autonomous preparation and ability to solve problems related to information retrieval and the decoding of complex texts, as well as an acceptable level of ability in making independent judgments and communicating content, analysis and judgments in well-argumented,competent and convincing ways both to non-specialists and non-specialists. Middle-range scores (24-27/30) are assigned to the student who produces evidence of a more than sufficient level (24-25/30) or good level (26-27/30) in the evaluation indicators listed above. Higher scores (from 28/30 to 30/30 cum laude) are awarded on the basis of the student’s demonstration of a very good or excellent level in the evaluation indicators listed above.