Learning outcomes of the course unit
The basic goal of module A is to enable students to handle reading of a literary text, correctly evaluating its formal characteristics and appropriately placing it in the context of the cultural panorama of the era.
The monographic module (B) then provides the possibility for an in-depth critical-thematic study and presents the students with one of the possible research methods.
Knowledge of proper Italian orthography and the ability to express oneself in writing without serious syntax errors are indispensable prerequisites of this course. Students, even if attending, who know that they lack familiarity with the reading and writing of literary tests are advised to consult one of the teaching guides indicated in the bibliography in advance (module A). Foreign students who did not attend high school in Italy are asked to meet with the teacher in order to set up an individual make-up plan.
Course contents summary
The course is organised in two modules, institutional (A) and monographic (B).
In the first, students are presented with an approach to the main authors and milestones of Italian literary history through a series of introductory lessons on theory-method, followed by an in-depth study of three classics to be read in their entirety. The selected works (for this year: Dante’s Purgatorio, Leopardi’s La mandragola and I Canti) will be placed in context and presented critically in class, widening the discussion to related authors and themes, as well as dealt with directly by reading and commenting, in class, several portions of the text of particular significance.
The three important novels published in 1881, twenty years after the unification of the Italian State, are the subject of module B: I Malavoglia, Malombra and Pinocchio. In the reciprocal diversity of these narrative solutions it is interesting, in fact, to pick up on the varied articulation of the response of the three authors, who, from different outlooks, were forced to measure themselves against the crisis of renaissance utopias and against several cumbersome genre models.
Module A: to learn about the outlines of Literary History (from its origins to Neo-realism) students are advised to refer to G. FERRONI, Profilo storico della Letteratura Italiana, 2 vol., Turin, Einaudi Scuola.
Il Purgatorio, Mandragola and Leopardi’s I Canti are to be read in any cheap edition that has decent notes.
For an optional investigation of meter and rhetoric problems, two of the many good manuals available on the market are considered; for ex: P.G. BELTRAMI, Gli strumenti della poesia, Milano, Bompiani, 1997; M.P. ELLERO-M. RESIDORI, Breve manuale di retorica, Milano, Sansoni 2001. Non-attending students, or students who are aware that they are seriously lacking in basic knowledge (see the Prerequisites field) can obtain introductory information useful for the study of Italian Literature from one of the following collections: L. CHINES-C. VAROTTI, Che cos’è un testo letterario, Roma, Carocci, 2002; G. ZACCARIA-C. BENUSSI, Per studiare la Letteratura Italiana, Milan, Bruno Mondadori, 2002.
Module B: A. MANZONI, I Promessi Sposi, A. FOGAZZARO, Malombra; G. VERGA, I Malavoglia; C. COLLODI, Pinocchio (all four of the novels’ in any cheap edition with good notes). For an overall picture of the subject, the critical monograph of reference is G. TELLINI, Il romanzo italiani dell’Ottocento e Novecento, Milan, Bruno Mondadori, 1998 (at least in regard to chapters. I-VIII). Students will also have the possibility to further investigate one of the module novels by choosing from specific bibliography proposals presented in class.
Teaching: lectures will be accompanied by a certain number of exercise hours in which texts will be read and analysed. Attendance of these exercises is optional and not mandatory.
Evaluation: for students who take the exam as their first and only in Italian Literature, this consists of a written exam (5 credits: see the Bibliography for module A) plus an oral exam (5 credits: see the Bibliography for module B).
The written exam consists of: (1) writing of a brief composition (from 30 to 60 lines) on an assigned topic; (2) paraphrase of a passage of Dante’s Purgatorio, with traces of formal comments; (3) conclusion of a test made up of 10 questions about the texts introduced in class (in module A, institutional) for an integral and in-depth reading and the fundamentals of textual analysis.
The oral evaluation consists of an oral exam on the subjects treated in the monographic module.