Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide students with an advanced historical and literary knowledge of the main expressions and literary forms of English Romanticism and their resonance in contemporary literature, resorting to postmodern theories of rewriting, adaptation, intertextuality and, more generally, "transtextuality". During the course, students will acquire:
- research and analytical skills applicable to the complex manifestations of British literature and culture both in the Romantic period and in contemporary literature;
- the knowledge of theoretical issues, authors, works, movements and aesthetic ideas central to Romantic and contemporary British literature, 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.
- Knowledge of spoken and written English equivalent at least to B2 but preferably C1 level of CEFR;
- basic knowledge of literary genres;
- general knowledge of the history of English Romanticism;
- general familiarity with the language of literary theory and criticism.
Course contents summary
The course intends to examine the modalities and forms in which Romanticism (in terms of thought, poetics, aesthetics and languages) persists in twentieth-century and contemporary British literature. To this end, starting from theoretical considerations concerning the concepts of intertesxtuality or transtextuality in postmodern discourse (Genette, Hutcheon, Lyotard, inter alia), the course will first of all introduce students to Romanticism and specific texts and authors (Wordsworth, Austen, Hogg, Mary Shelley, and Byron) to focus then on how some writers have interpreted, translated and revisited their 19th-century predecessors through textual adaptations and reprises (Neil Gunn, P.D. James, Val McDermid, Emma Tennant, Liz Lochhead, Alasdair Gray and Benjamin Markovits). Classes will concentrate 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.
The general critical-theoretical texts will include: G. Genette, Palinsesti; L. Hutcheon, A Poetics of Postmodernism; J. F. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition; B. McHale, Postmodernist Fiction; E. Larrissy, Romanticism and Postmodernism; M. Sandy, Romantic Presences in the Twentieth Century. Primary texts: Wordsworth, The Prelude (selezione); Byron (selezione di testi vari); Austen, Pride and Prejudice e Northanger Abbey; Shelley, Frankenstein; Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner; Gunn, Highland River; Markovits, Imposture e A Quiet Adjustement; P.D. James, Death Comes to Pemberley; McDermid, Northanger Abbey; Lochhead, Blood and Ice; Gray, Poor Things; Tennant, The Bad Sister. All texts are available in the Library of the Foreign Language and Literatures Area or on the online platform of the University of Parma (Elly). Further bibliographical references will be provided at the beginning of the course and will be duly indicated in the exam 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, 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 moments in which students will have the opportunity to do presentations about aspects of the programme or propose close readings of the texts included in the syllabus.
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 C1-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 C1-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