Literary Theory and Criticism

A.Y. 2019/2020
9
Max ECTS
60
Overall hours
SSD
L-FIL-LET/14
Language
Italian
Learning objectives
The course aims at introducing students to the fundamental topics of literary theory and to the methodological issues concerning the study of literature, also by discussing different perspectives and concepts for analyzing and interpreting texts. Students will develop the ability to analyze, reason on and argue about the theoretical issues presented and a more sophisticated understanding of the premises, methods, and aims of literary criticism.
Expected learning outcomes
Students will address the fundamental topics of the theoretical, philosophical, and methodological reflection on literature: interpretation and reception, the definition of literature and literary genres, narrative, poetry and verse, value and the canon are some of the issues about which students will gain a deeper knowledge and improve their abilities of critical thinking and discussion. In addition, students will become more competent at analyzing and interpreting literary texts from several perspectives and they will learn to take part in the discourse of literary criticism.
Course syllabus and organization

A-H

Responsible
Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
Unit A of the course aims to illustrate some problems of literary theory, and to reflect in particular on literary form and on the possible definition, nature and relational mode of literary texts.
Unit B critically deals with the theme of memory, both from a theoretical point of view, namely in its specific nature of imaginative recreation, and in terms of textual analysis. The texts that will be considered will be a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, Funes, and Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.
Unit C intends to present and discuss again the forms of memory, in relation to literary writing, but this time in their implications with the processes of collective memory and finally with oblivion. The texts that will be taken into consideration will be a short story by Alice Munro, What is remembered, and The Periodic Table by Primo Levi.
Prerequisites for admission
It is advisable to attend the course and take the exam in the second year, in order to have previously acquired basic knowledge in Italian Literature and Italian Linguistics.
Teaching methods
The course will be offered in a lecture format, but some time will be devoted to discussion, both with the teacher and within groups of students. This will help students delve into the issues under discussion, improve their analysis, reasoning, and interpretation skills, and learn more easily. To participate more actively, students will also be encouraged to read the works and essays in the course syllabus while attending classes. The Ariel website of the course will be used to share the teaching materials that might be proposed for discussion.
Regular class attendance is strongly advised.
Bibliography
Teaching Unit A
- Federico Bertoni, Letteratura. Teorie, metodi, strumenti, Roma, Carocci 2018.
- Fabio Vittorini, Il testo narrativo, Roma, Carocci, 2005.

Teaching Unit B
- Paolo Spinicci, Lezioni sul tempo, la memoria e il racconto, Milano, Cuem 2004.
- Laura Neri, Memoria, in I campi della retorica. Letteratura, argomentazione, discorso, Roma, Carocci 2011, pp. 159-181.
- Laura Neri, Il valore finzionale della memoria (in print)
- Jorge Luis Borges, Funes, in Finzioni, Tutte le opere, Milano, "I Meridiani" Mondadori 1997, or any other edition.
- Italo Calvino, Le città invisibili, Torino, Einaudi, 1983, or any other edition.

Teaching Unit C
- Paul Ricoeur, Ricordare, dimenticare, perdonare. L'enigma del passato, Bologna, il Mulino 2004.
- Tzvetan Todorov, Gli abusi della memoria, Napoli, Ipermedium libri 2001.
- Alice Munro, What is remembered, in Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, McClelland and Stewart 2001, or any other edition.
- Primo Levi, Il sistema periodico, Torino, Einaudi 2014, or any other edition.

Bibliography for not attending students
Students who do not attend should supplement the texts indicated in the bibliography with the following readings:

Teaching Unit A
- Alberto Casadei, La critica letteraria contemporanea, Bologna, il Mulino 2015.
Teaching Unit B
- Aleida Assmann, Ricordare. Forme e mutamenti della memoria culturale, Bologna, il Mulino, 2002, chapters VII, VIII, IX, pp. 165-267.
Teaching Unit C
- Aleida Assmann, Ricordare. Forme e mutamenti della memoria culturale, Bologna, il Mulino, 2002, chapters X, XI, pp. 269.-377.

Further information
Further information will be published on the online Ariel platform, on the website dedicated to Literary Theory and Criticism (A-H).
Assessement methods and criteria
The final exam will consist of an oral exam about the topics of the course. In order to pass the exam, students will have to demonstrate at least sufficient knowledge of the topics of each part of the course (Units A, B, and C, if they are to acquire 9 credits; Units A and B, if they are to acquire 6). Students will be asked to present the works comprised in the course syllabus and to critically discuss about the issues that will have been dealt with through them. Language proficiency (this includes technical language proficiency) and the accuracy of historical and literary references will also contribute to the final score.
Marks are out of 30.
Unita' didattica A
L-FIL-LET/14 - LITERARY CRITICISM AND COMPARATIVE LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
L-FIL-LET/14 - LITERARY CRITICISM AND COMPARATIVE LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
L-FIL-LET/14 - LITERARY CRITICISM AND COMPARATIVE LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours

I-Z

Responsible
Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
L'unità didattica A sarà dedicata alle riflessioni sulla mimesi e sulla tragedia svolte da Platone, nella Repubblica, e da Aristotele, nella Poetica, che saranno ripercorse anche attraverso la lettura dell'Edipo re di Sofocle. Nell'unità didattica B si affronterà quindi la questione delle emozioni - della loro natura e della parte che esse hanno nell'esperienza della letteratura (e della tragedia in particolare) -, attraverso le proposte teoriche di Martha Nussbaum e di altri filosofi e mediante la lettura di Othello, di William Shakespeare. Nell'unità didattica C, infine, si approfondiranno ulteriormente i temi della mimesi, delle emozioni e del tragico, a partire dal Saggio sul tragico di Peter Szondi e da Menzogna romantica e verità romanzesca di René Girard.
Prerequisites for admission
No prerequisites for admission. Yet, students are advised to attend the course and take the exam during their second year.
Teaching methods
The course will mainly consist of lectures, but some time will be devoted to discussion, both with the teacher and within groups of students. This will help students delve into the issues under discussion, improve their analysis, reasoning, and interpretation skills, and learn more easily. To participate more actively, students will also be encouraged to read the works and essays in the course syllabus while they attend classes. The Ariel website of the course will be used to share the teaching materials that might be proposed for discussion.
Regular class attendance is strongly recommended.
Bibliography
Bibliography
Part A:
· Plato, The Republic, books II, III, and X. Students can choose among the editions by C. Rowe (Penguin Classics, 2012), C.D.C. Reeve (Hackett, 2004), and R.E. Allen (Yale UP, 2006)
· Aristotle, Poetics. Students can choose between the editions by A. Kenny (Oxford UP, 2013) and M. Heath (Penguin Classics, 1996)
· Sophocles, Oedipus the King, edited and translated by Stephen Berg and Diskin Clay, Oxford UP, 1988.
Part B:
· Martha Nussbaum, Upheavals of Thought. The Intelligence of Emotions, Cambridge UP, 2001, chapters I-IV and VI-VIII
· William Shakespeare, Othello, edited by Michael Neill, Oxford UP, 2006.
Part C:
Students will choose one of the two following essays:
· Peter Szondi, An Essay on the Tragic, Stanford UP, 2002
· René Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel. Self and Other in Literary Structure, The Johns Hopkins UP, 1976.
Assessement methods and criteria
The final exam will consist of an oral exam about the topics of the course. In order to pass it, students will have to demonstrate at least sufficient knowledge of the topics of each part of the course (units A, B, and C, if they are to acquire 9 credits; parts A and B, if they are to acquire 6). Students will be asked to present the works comprised in the course syllabus and to critically discuss about the issues that will have been dealt with through them. Language proficiency (this includes technical language proficiency) and the accuracy of historical and literary references will also contribute to the final mark. For foreign students, the exam will be in English or Italian (at student's choice).
Unita' didattica A
L-FIL-LET/14 - LITERARY CRITICISM AND COMPARATIVE LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
L-FIL-LET/14 - LITERARY CRITICISM AND COMPARATIVE LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
L-FIL-LET/14 - LITERARY CRITICISM AND COMPARATIVE LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours