Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
1. Identify and explain the chronological and cultural contexts of
various masterpieces and/or representative works of Italian
literature, including both western and non-western cultural elements.
2. Assess and utilize the vocabulary and concepts of literary study,
including terms and ideas specific to Italian literature and culture.
3. Analyze and evaluate selected Italian literature, offering personal
analyses and responses to literature, including summarizing those of
4. Differentiate and analyze key characteristics of major Italian
authors, styles, periods, and movements.
5. Evaluate and explain works and authors with respect to relevance to
21st-century culture and readers.
6. Compare and contrast "universal" and "national" (i.e., uniquely
Italian) aspects of literature and culture, including ideas, values,
7. Identify and evaluate the role of translation and the translator in
selected Italian literary works.
8. Compare and contrast various renderings of the same literary work,
and the meaning and impact of identified differences, including an
appreciation of perspectives of women and of ethnic/other minorities.
I. Modern Italian history
B. the Risorgimento
C. post unification and the World Wars
D. economic "miracle" in the 1950s and early 1960s
F. Italy's cultural, social, and political diversity, including
western and non-western elements
G. relevance to 21st century culture and readers
H. contributions and perspectives from various social class,
II. Modern Italian culture and literature
A. distinct literary eras, their components and relative chronology
B. literary genres and their influence
C. historical and cultural context of major authors and their works,
and main social, political and artistic trends of each period; the
relation of authorial motivation, as well as of the content and
style of his or her works, to such questions
D. significant biographical details of each author
E. key characteristics of major Italian authors, styles, periods,
F. "universal" and "national" (i.e., uniquely Italian) apsects of
literature and culture, including ideas, values, and
G. relevance to 21st-century culture and readers
H. comparison of different artistic expressions or styles that
reflect similar sociological, religious, ethnic, gender-based,
or cultural events and themes
I. the Italian intellectual's response to Italy's industrial and
J. roles of social class, religion, gender and ethnicities
III.Understanding and appreciating literature
A. basic terminology of literary analysis
B. how to read actively and critically, including:
1. following and summarizing a plot line
2. identifying and summarizing the major features of the works
3. recognizing the choices an author has made in shaping a work
in a particular way
4. recognizing the effects of those choices on the reader
C. the role of translation (the Italian adage "traduttore,
traditore") and comparing translations
D. Novels may include but not limited to The Betrothed (Manzoni),
A Tale of Poor Lovers (Pratolini), History. A Novel (Morante),
Christ Stopped at Eboli (Levi), The Leopard (Lampedusa). Other
genres, such as plays by Pirandello, poetry by Pavese and others,
etc., may also be introduced
IV. Writing about literature
A. formulating ideas about the reading
B. gathering evidence from the work to support the idea
C. gathering evidence from critical sources to support the idea
D. testing the evidence against other available evidence
E. presenting and supporting the idea persuasively
F. avoiding plagiarism
1. Weekly readings of literary works and textbooks, approximately 90 to
120 pages a week.
2. In-class discussions and student evaluations of assigned readings.
3. Regular written assignments, of varying lengths, which may include
passage analysis, research papers, essays, reading journals.
4. Periodic progress-analysis tests. These tests will cover all major
components of the course, and there will be at least one per literary
work. Each test will measure the student's mastery of factual
content, both of assigned materials and of subjects presented in
in instructor's lectures, and will provide an opportunity to display
student's analytical skills and personal evaluation of the works
5. Mid-term and final examinations.
6. Oral participation in in-class discussions.
7. Optional: Special projects and student presentations may be assigned.
Complete English-language or dual-language texts, or anthologies, of
major representative works of Italian literature from 1800 to the present
day. Texts may include but need not be limited to:
THE BETROTHED (I PROMESSI SPOSI), Alessandro Manzoni. trans Bruce
Penman. Penguin Books. 1972/1983.
A TALE OF POOR LOVERS (CRONACA DI POVERI AMANTI), Vasco Pratolini.
Monthly Review Press. 1988.
HISTORY. A NOVEL (LA STORIA. UN ROMANZO), Elsa Morante. trans. William
Weaver. Avventura/Vintage Books. 1977/1984.
CHRIST STOPPED AT EBOLI (CRISTO SI E FERMATO A EBOLI), Carlo Levi.
trans. Frances Frenaye. Farrar, Straus. 1947/1963.
THE LEOPARD (II GATTOPARDO), Giuseppe di Lampedusa. trans. Archibald
Colquhoun. Pantheon Books. 1960.
SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR (SEI PERSONNAGGI IN CERCA DI UN
AUTORE), Luigi Pirandello. In Pirandello's Major Plays. Northwestern
University Press, 1991.
THE GARDEN OF THE FINZI-CONTINIS. (II GIARDINO DEI FINZI-CONTINI),
Giorgio Bassani. trans. William Weaver. Harcourt Brace. 1977.
POEMS FROM ITALY. William Jay Smith, Dana Gioia, eds. New Rivers Press.
NEW PENGUIN PARALLEL TEXT. SHORT STORIES IN ITALIAN. Nick Roberts, ed.
Penguin Books. 1999.
CAMBRIDGE HISTORY OF ITALIAN LITERATURE. Peter Brand, Lino Pertile. eds.