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 and forms of modernity and contemporaneity that pertain to the complex discourse of World Literature – a heterogeneous umbrella term encompassing several theoretical aspects of migration literature, postcolonial literatures, cultural studies and translation studies. During the course, students will acquire:
- research and analytical skills applicable to the complex manifestations of British literature and culture from the Renaissance to the present day;
- the knowledge 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 century to nowadays, with the support of an updated critical bibliography;
- the ability to contextualize and analyse complex texts in English from both a formal and a thematic-ideological perspective;
- the capability of outlining research projects autonomously through the deployment of traditional and digital bibliographical resources;
- the ability to articulate critical judgments about complex literary and cultural phenomena based on textual close readings;
- communicative skills allowing them to formulate ideas and commentaries in English and in a linguistic register and lexis appropriate to literary studies, as well as corresponding to the level of language proficiency expected for the year of the Laurea Magistrale attended by students;
- the autonomy to apply the skills developed during the course also to non-literary texts.
Course contents summary
The course deals with the multiple thematic threads and the complex theoretical discourses characterising what is commonly defined as ‘global’ or ‘world’ literature, a literature, that is, which reflects the changes caused by globalization and transnational politics, and which encompasses a variety of thematic and ideological issues deriving from such diverse specialised fields as the literature of migration, postcolonial literatures, comparative literatures, translation and cultural studies. In order to exemplify these theoretical assets and the red threads of World Literature, students will examine a range of texts belonging to English and British literature from the Elizabethan age, through 19th-century migration literature, till the contemporary ‘global novel’.
Starting from these premises, the second part of the course will concentrate on the identification of these theoretical aspects in a selection of texts belonging to the period from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century (from Shakespeare to postcolonial and postmodern authors, such as, inter alias, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan and Arundhati Roy). The course concentrates on texts in the original language (usually in anthological form, especially when extended works are examined) which are analysed in terms of historical context and aesthetic features, as well as from the structural, stylistic and thematic-ideological point of view.
General texts on World Literature, such as, Theo D’haen, “World Literature, and David Damrosch, ”World Literature in Theory”, both available in the library of the Area di Lingue e Letterature Straniere. Some primary texts will be taken from the Norton Anthology of World Literature, ed. Maynard Mack and Sarah Lawall (Expanded Edition, 1995. Third edition, ed. Martin Puchner et al., 2012). Additional references will be provided during the course and regularly listed in the syllabus.
During the lectures the teacher introduces the main aspects of the historical-cultural context, the 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 (printed and digital materials), as well as online at sites such as www.archive.org, Google Books and the platform of the University of Parma for e-learning (LEA). In this way, students will be encouraged to create their own individual study and research projects, to carry out original approaches to and autonomous analyses of the issues and problems raised by the tutor during the course. The course will include seminar or tutorial moments, in which the students will be asked to focus on specific aspects of modern and contemporary literature in English, as well as on close readings of the texts included in the syllabus.
Assessment methods and criteria
The assessment of knowledge and skills depends on a written (short essay) and an oral examination. The oral testing is first of all a discussion of the essay, and then consists of a series of questions on the materials analysed during the lectures and seminars, as well as on the texts chosen and examined by the student for his own individual study.
The knowledge and skills to be assessed in both exams are as follows:
- oral proficiency in both written and spoken English corresponding to the level expected for the year of the Laurea Magistrale attended by students and full competence in the specific terminology of literary studies;
- knowledge of the texts, authors, contexts and 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 make autonomous judgments and to communicate content in well-argumented and competent ways both.
A fail in the exams is determined by the lack of an understanding of the minimum content of the course, the inability to express oneself in English at the level of proficiency expected for the year of the Laurea Magistrale attended by students, the lack of autonomous preparation, the inability to make independent judgments and communicate content in well-argumented and competent ways. 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 for the year of the Laurea Magistrale attended by students, an adequate level of autonomous preparation and ability to make independent judgments and communicate content in well-argumented and competent ways. 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 above listed evaluation indicators. 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.