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 complex literary and theoretical discourses, such as migration literature, postcolonial literatures, translation studies and the more recent World Literature. 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 focuses on the many thematic routes and complex theoretical discourses revolving around the concept of border (in both its geographical and figurative meanings) as a place of conflict but also of meeting, contact and, ultimately, empathy. Liminal spaces (“contact zones” or “third spaces”, in postcolonial terms) have been represented in many different ways in English literature from Shakespeare to now, reflecting the changes generated by globalization and transnational policies. In the first part of the course, students will be introduced to key aspects of the theoretical fields of reference, in particular related to migration literature, postcolonial literatures, translation studies and World literature. In this context, they will consider the most representative theorists who have at the centre of their discussions the concept of interstitial space, including: Marc Augé, Bill Ashcroft, Pierre Nora, Homi Bhabha, Linda Pratt, Paul Gilroy, inter alia. In the second part of the course, students will examine a selection of texts from British modern and contemporary literature, starting from the Elizabethan age, going through nineteenth-century migration literature, and arriving at the contemporary novel. 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 introducing the students to the theoretical frame of the course, such as, among others: Bhabha Homi K., The location of culture (1994); David Damrosch, World Literature in Theory (2014); Hiddleston Jane, Understanding postcolonialism (2009); Innes C. L., The Cambridge introduction to postcolonial literatures in English (2007); Loomba Ania, Colonialism/Postcolonialism (1998); Park Sorensen Eli, Postcolonial studies and the literary : theory, interpretation and the novel (2010); Pratt Lynda, Imperial eyes : travel writing and transculturation (1992); Ramone Jenni, Postcolonial Theories (2011).. All texts are available in the University Library of the Area of Languages and Literature in Parma, or in pdf format, on the University of Parma online platform (Elly). Further references are provided at the beginning of the course and are 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 in digital archives such as www.archive.org, and the platform of the University of Parma for e-learning (Elly). 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.