Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide students with advanced historical and literary knowledge of the main formal and thematic phenomena characterizing the development of English and British literature, as well as relevant and up to date theoretical and methodological tools to allow them to develop their skills for the analysis of complex manifestations of English and British literature and culture.
During the course the students learn to:
. acquire in-depth knowledge, with the support of an updated bibliography, some of the relevant theoretical issues, authors, works, movements and main aesthetic ideas in English and British literature from the Renaissance to the present;
. contextualize and analyze complex texts in English from the formal and thematic-ideological point of view;
. develop original research projects and analysis using the paper and digital resources offered by the libraries of the Universities of Parma and Modena-Reggio Emilia, as well as the free-access resources available on the net;
. make informed and motivated judgments based on a careful decoding of texts and relative to complex literary phenomena and cultural;
. communicate and discuss contents, analyses and assessments in English, through an appropriate linguistic register, that is suitable to the lexicon of literary studies and in line with the level of linguistic competence required of second-year Laurea Magistrale students;
. autonomously and competently apply the skills learned and developed during the course also to complex non-literary texts, offering well-documented analyses and justifying interpretations through an accurate retrieval and careful examination of textual data.
Students are expected to know the fundamentals of the history and of the main features of the literature of the British Isles. In the absence of such preliminary knowledge, the tutor will provide a preparatory reading list.
Course contents summary
The course offers students advanced explorations of thematic and formal aspects of British literature from the Middle Ages to the contemporary period, with particular attention to literary expressions between the Renaissance and the twenty-first century. The course is structured through a combination of literary-historical content and literary theory. In the former area, students are invited to consider aspects of English and British literary history from specific thematic and chronological perspectives in order to examine the evolution of literature’s representation and problematization of reality. This study is based on texts in the original language (also in the form of excerpts from extended works) and analyzed in terms of historical and aesthetic context, and from a structural, stylistic and thematic-ideological point of view. In addition to the texts examined during the course, students are required to read and study independently a series of works chosen from those listed in the exam syllabus. The course also provides students with some knowledge of literary theory, enabling them to carry out personal analyses of texts and literary phenomena according to the most recent reflections on the mechanisms of literary communication. The tutor finalizes the exam syllabus at the end of the course and makes it available online to students.
Reference works are Andrew Sanders, “The Short Oxford History of English Literature” (Oxford Univ. Press), and the chronologically relevant volume of the “Oxford English Literary History” and “Cambridge History of English Literature”. Further bibliographic references will be provided during the course and then indicated in the exam syllabus.
In the lectures, the tutor will introduce the main elements of the historical and cultural context, the profiles of the authors and the texts under examination, using both the course bibliography and further textual or visual materials available in the Libraries of the Universities of Parma and Modena-Reggio Emilia. The course will be supported by both paper and digital resources, especially those freely available online at sites like www.archive.org or Google Books. In this fashion, the course aims to stimulate students to create pathways for individual study and research, and develop an independent and original approach to the analysis of the issues and problems raised by the course. In addition, the course is supported by a seminar on a specific aspect of British literature of the XX -XXI century, built around the textual analysis of a selection of works 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 (who may also prepare an oral presentation on a topic of his/her choice).
A fail is determined by the lack, demonstrated by the student during the oral examination, of an understanding of the basic contents of the course, the inability to express oneself in English at the level of proficiency expected of students of the second year of the Laurea Magistrale, 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 specialists and non-specialists. A pass (18-23/30) is determined by the student’s ability to perform at an acceptable level in relation to the above evaluation indicators; middle-range scores (24-27/30) are assigned to students who perform at a more than sufficient level (24-25/30) or good level (26-27/30); 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.