ENGLISH LITERATURE II
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide students with a solid general knowledge on the literature, as well as its contexts, produced from Shakespeare to nowadays. The notions they will learn will allow students 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 17th century to today, as well as the different historical, political, cultural and artistic phenomena referring to these centuries;
• understand and analyze complex literary and dramatic texts both in terms of their formal characteristics and their thematic and ideological contents;
• explore in an independent and original way the themes treated in the course, using print and digital bibliographic tools;
• 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, which is in line with the language competence students achieve during the first-year course of English and Translation.
The course implies a preliminary knowledge of the history of English colonialism and decolonization. Furthermore, it presupposes the pre-acquisition of at leat a basic knowledge of post-colonial criticism and theory. To allow students to acquire or deepen this knowledge, the official course will be preceded by a seminar on the history of (de)colonization and the major tenets of postcolonial theory and criticism.
Course contents summary
The course accompanies students along a path through British literature from Shakespeare to today focusing on a selection of authors and texts that deal with the theme of “other” – either from or within oneself – from various historical and cultural perspectives. The course structure reflects the chronological sequence of the works analyzed, each examined (in the original language and mostly through anthological samples) in its structural, stylistic and thematic aspects, always in relation to the historical and aesthetic context in which it was produced, to its genre (poetic, narrative or theatrical), as well as to specific literary and cultural phenomena that developed from the Elizabethan age to the present day. Starting from Shakespeare, through Romantic and Victorian poetry up to postcolonial discourse, students will be guided along a path of readings allowing them to understand the historical-cultural dynamics and the ideological assets underlying the ever-present differentiation between the self and the other. After studying works representative of seventeenth-century colonialism, they will be introduced to texts essential to the understanding of the discourses of Orientalism, exoticism and imperialism dominating throughout the nineteenth century. Finally, the reading of contemporary works will allow them to analyze similarities and differences in the representation of “other” after the twentieth-century processes of decolonization, which led to phenomena such as migratory flows and multiculturalism.
The extended, detailed syllabus will be provided at the beginning of the course.
The reference texts for cultural and literary history are L. M. Crisafulli e K. Elam (eds), "Manuale di letteratura e cultura inglese" and "The Norton Anthology of English Literature". In the latter, the students must read all the introductions to the periods and to the authors included in the syllabus. The detailed lists of primary and secondary texts will be indicated in the definitive syllabus which will be available on the online platform of the university (Elly) before the beginning of the course. On the same platform, students will find all the materials useful to the preparation of the exam (critical articles and various materials in support of their reading of primary texts).
The course consists of 15 lectures of 2 hours each entirely in English. In each class, the professor will introduce the main historical and cultural contexts before focusing on authors and texts, using both the compulsory readings indicated in the syllabus and additional visual or textual materials made available on the University’s online platform (Elly). Moreover, suggestions for individual study will be provided, in order to boost the student’s autonomy.
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.
In addition, the student is required to present a topic out of his/her choice, selected from among those examined during the course, or chosen by the student independently and agreed on with the professor.
The knowledge and skills to be assessed during the oral examination are:
• an oral proficiency in Italian 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.