Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims at providing students with a solid knowledge of the concept of literary Canon and “national” identity in relation to the cultural complexity of the UK both internally and when considering its colonial and postcolonial history. In particular, it intends to make them familiar with authors and texts belonging to specific, “local” socio-political contexts yet also relevant from a “global” perspective. Moreover, students are given the hermeneutic and theoretical tools allowing them to develop autonomous critical opinions. In particular, the course aims at achieving the following objectives:
-knowledge of some of the most important contributions by nineteenth-century and contemporary British writers, as well as knowledge of the historical, political, social, artistic and aesthetic context in which their works were produced;
-understanding and analysis of British texts in the original language, in some cases confronting the students with both thematic and linguistic complexities (the latter owing also to the use of local and regional idioms);
-acquiring the skill of doing autonomous research on the themes of the course by resorting to both paper and digital materials in addition to those suggested by the lecturer;
-developing individual and autonomous opinions on the texts studied during the course, decoding them by means of the theoretical tools learnt in class, so as to elaborate individual theories and critical commentaries not necessarily based on the lecturer’s proposed interpretations and readings;
-ability of communicating, and sharing, in English opinions and judgments on the texts examined in class, by using the proper language for academic literary analyses, equivalent to C2 level of the Common European Framework;
-achieving learning skills that allow students to apply the knowledge and abilities acquired during the course to the interpretation of any newly encountered literary work, author or context.
Course contents summary
Title of the course: From the World to the Region: Discourses of Literature Within and Without the UK from the Nineteenth Century to the Present
Starting from recent theories about the canon of “English” literature and the concept of “Britishness” that underline the cultural and linguistic diversities of the UK also in relation to its (post)colonial history, the course aims at confronting a central issue in contemporary critical debates: the relationship between “global literature” and “national or regional literatures”, in particular the specific contribution that Scottish, Irish and postcolonial literatures give towards the definition of “Englishness” from a transcultural and multi-ethnic perspective. Taking into account the discourse of World Literature that the students have examined in the first year of their Master’s degree, the selected authors and texts will help them understand why nowadays it is still important to talk about “a” Scottish literature, “an” Irish literature and postcolonial literature(s) even adopting the theoretical tools provided by World Literature.
Primary texts: James Hogg, “The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner”; James Thomson, “The City of Dreadful Night; Liz Lochhead, “Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped off”; Yeats, “Selection of poems”; Brian Friel, “Translations”; William Trevor, “Felicia’s Journey”; Jackie Kay, “The Lamplighter”; Salman Rushdie, “The Enchantress of Florence”; Derek Walcott, selection of poems; Coetzee, “Foe”.
Reference texts will include: Albertazzi Silvia e Vecchi Roberto, a cura di, Abbecedario postcoloniale; Anderson Benedict, Imagined communities : reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism; Angeletti Gioia, ““Letteratura, nazionalità e regionalismo”, in Manuale di letteratura e cultura inglese, a cura di Lilla Maria Crisafulli e Keir Elam; Ashcroft Bill, Griffiths Gareth, Tiffin Helen, The Empire writes back: theory and practice in post-colonial literatures; Bhabha Homi K., Nation and narration and The location of culture; Brown Ian, ed., The Edinburgh History of Scottish literature, vol 3; Cairns David and Richards Shaun, Writing Ireland : colonialism, nationalism and culture; Colley Linda. Britons : forging the nation : 1707-1837; Deane Seamus, Celtic revivals : essays in modern Irish literature : 1880-1980; De Petris Carla e Stella Maria, a cura di, Continente Irlanda : storia e scritture contemporanee; Eagleton Terry; Jameson Frederic; Said Edward W., Nationalism, colonialism, and literature; Graham Colin, Deconstructing Ireland : identity, theory, culture; Gualtieri Claudia, Vivan Itala, Dalla Englishness alla Britishness, 1950-2000 : discorsi culturali in trasformazione dal canone imperiale alle storie di oggi; Hiddleston Jane, Understanding postcolonialism; Innes C. L., The Cambridge introduction to postcolonial literatures in English; Kiberd Declan, Inventing Ireland; Loomba Ania, Colonialism/Postcolonialism; Lunan Lyndsay; Macdonald Kirsty A., Sassi Carla, Re-visioning Scotland : new readings of the cultural canon; Mack Douglas S., Scottish fiction and the British empire; Mellino, Miguel, La critica postcoloniale : decolonizzazione, capitalismo e cosmopolitismo nei postcolonial studies; Park Sorensen Eli, Postcolonial studies and the literary : theory, interpretation and the novel; Ramone Jenni, Postcolonial Theories; Poddar Prem and Johnson David, eds., A historical companion to postcolonial; Sassi Carla, Why Scottish literature matters; Snell K.D.M ed., The regional novel in Britain and Ireland, 1800-1990; Sorensen Eli Park, Postcolonial studies and the literary : theory, interpretation and the novel; Spivak Gayatri Chakravorty, A critique of postcolonial reason : toward a history of the vanishing present
The 54 hours of the course include 48 hours of lectures and 6 hours of seminars or tutorials. The lectures, held entirely in English, will first of all introduce the students to the main theoretical discourses concerning the idea of literary Canon(s), regional/national literatures and postcolonial studies. Then the lectures will be dedicated to the presentation and discussion of the selected authors and works, contextualising them in the historical and cultural period in which they emerged. In each class the professor will avail himself of technological tools, such as slides and audio-visual materials, including video clips. All these materials will be available for students in the Web Learning platform of the University (www.didattica.unipr.it). However, lectures will also include moments of class discussions, starting from specific questions on the issues and themes dealt with during the course. Moreover, students will be given a specific and specialised bibliography in view of their final exam. The 6 hours at the end of the course will be dedicated to tutorials in which students will be asked to propose a topic for class discussion in relation to the texts and authors previously analysed. They will be provided with a list of titles out of which they can choose the topic. Each student will give a few-minute presentation, which could also be the starting point for the essay (3500-4000 words) he/she will have to hand in at the end of the course before the oral examination.
Assessment methods and criteria
The knowledge and skills acquired during the course will be assessed through a preliminary essay (for which a list of titles will be provided), and an oral exam, both in English. These tests evaluate the following skills that the student should achieve by the end of his/her learning process:
• English language oral skills equivalent to C2 level of the Common European Framework, implying the acquisition of the proper lexis for academic literary analyses;
• Specific, in-depth knowledge of writers, texts and contexts in the literary period covered by the course;
• Ability to give individual readings of texts, re-elaborating autonomously the content of the course, do further research on the themes discussed in class, and articulate personal, motivated opinions on them.
Both the essay topics and oral exam questions must evaluate the student’s acquired knowledge and skills in re-elaborating what he/she has learnt, and proposing individual interpretations. The assessment of the essay and oral exam will be based on the following criteria:
- failure: no knowledge acquired by the student; improper language, far from the C2 level; no ability to re-elaborate the content of the course, propose individual readings, and articulate personal, motivated opinions;
- pass (18-23/30): minimum knowledge acquired by the student on the authors, texts and contexts discussed in class; on the whole proper language, close to C2 level, in spite of some flaws; the student is sufficiently able to re-elaborate the content of the course, express convincing enough opinions, and produce acceptable interpretations of the texts;
- (fairly) good (24-27/30): (fairly) good level achieved in the above mentioned skills and acquired knowledge;
- very good and excellent (28-30/30): all the above mentioned criteria are fully met by the student, who has achieved from very good to excellent results.