Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide students with a general knowledge on North-American literature (with a specific focus on the United States), as well as its contexts, with a special eye on the literary genre of the short story from the 19th century until now. Both canonical as well as less established authors will be considered. The notions the students will learn will allow them to contextualize literary figures and texts in relation to a complex series of historical and cultural events. During the course they will acquire methodologies for the analysis and interpretation of specific literary texts. During the course, the students learn to • know the main authors, works, movements and aesthetic ideas from the 19th century until nowadays, as well as the different historical, political, cultural and artistic phenomena referring to these centuries; • understand and analyze complex literary texts both in terms of their formal characteristics and their thematic and ideological contents; • make informed and motivated judgments about literary and cultural phenomena, based on a careful decoding of textual evidence; • formulate, communicate and discuss contents, analyses and judgments by using the linguistic register appropriate to the specific topic, that is to say, appropriate to the lexicon of literary studies; • formulate and communicate content and analysis - in English - using a linguistic register appropriate to the subject, coinciding with the B2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference.
Course contents summary
American Short (Hi)Story: The History of North American Literature through American Short Stories
The course aims at reflecting on the literary and cultural turning points in the history of North American Literature by focusing on the literary genre of the short story from the 19th century until now. By reading and interpreting texts from both canonical as well less established authors, the course will also provide theoretical and narratological tools for the analysis of the short story.
Iuli Cristina, Loreto Paola (Eds.), La letteratura degli Stati Uniti Dal Rinascimento americano ai nostri giorni, Roma, Carocci, 2017 (with particular emphasis on chapters: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15)
FICTIONAL TEXTS (all the short stories will be available on online platform Elly):
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Man of the Crowd” (1840)
Herman Melville, “Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” (1856)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892)
Sherwood Anderson, “Hands” (1916)
Ernest Hemingway, “The Snows of Kilimangiaro” (1936)
J.D. Salinger, “Franny” (1951)
John Cheever, “The Swimmer” (1964)
Alice Walker, “Every Day Use” (1973)
Raymond Carver, “Beginners” (extended version) + “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” (short version) (1981)
David Forster Wallace, “Late Night” (intitolata anche “My Appearance”), 1989
Sherman Alexie, “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” (2003)
Kristen Roupenian, “Cat Person” (2017)
Frontal lessons. Reading and analysis of texts in the classroom. More didactic material online, on the platform Elly.
Assessment methods and criteria
The assessment of knowledge and skills occurs by means of an oral examination. During the oral exam, the student is asked to answer questions in English relating to the contents of the course, individual readings and any further studies independently carried out. The knowledge and skills to be assessed during the oral examination are: • an oral proficiency at an advanced level (i.e. the successful acquisition of the appropriate register and the specific language of literary studies) and oral proficiency in English corresponding to B2 level; • knowledge of texts, authors, and ideological contexts and formal issues of the literary periods in question; • an appropriate level in the ability to expand autonomously on certain contents. The oral examination is designed to assess knowledge, the ability for independent and original reworking of such knowledge, as well as the ability to make connections, comparisons and contrasts. A fail is determined by the lack, demonstrated by students during the oral examination, of understanding of the minimum and essential contents of the course, the inability to express themselves adequately on the subject in English at B2 level, the lack of autonomous preparation, and the inability to solve problems related to information retrieval and the decoding of texts. A pass (18-23/30) is awarded to those students who show that they have learned the minimum and essential contents of the course, that they have acquired an ability to discuss literary topics appropriately in English, with a sufficient competence in relation to the characteristics of the B2 level, that they have achieved a sufficient degree of self-preparation and a sufficient capacity of textual analysis. Middle-range scores (24-27/30) are assigned to the student who produces evidence of a more than sufficient level (24-25/30) or a good level (26-27/30) in the evaluation indicators listed above. 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.