English Culture II

A.Y. 2015/2016
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Focusing on the literary and non-literary works, films, discourses, art forms and cultural practices which contribute to inform the current British debate on national, social and cultural identity against the backdrop of the country's imperial past, and with a view to redefine the United Kingdom's role in Europe and globally, this course aims to enhance the students' critical knowledge and understanding of these themes, as well as of the enduring influence and attraction of British institutions, literature and culture (understood, after Raymond Williams, as "a whole way of life") on our current experience of contemporaneity. These aims are pursued through the methodological and critical tools of Cultural Studies, which privilege multicultural and interdisciplinary perspectives meant to develop awareness and understanding of ideological, political, gender and socio-spatial relations, as well as their discursive, narrative and semiotic components and developments. These approaches are particularly rewarding in order to contextualize British cultural phenomena against the backdrop of a rich web of relations among culture(s), beliefs, literatures, genres, social and discursive practices and paradigms, and the production and consumption of cultural products. By fostering active participation from the students, the course aims to enhance their critical analytic skills, their ability to make independent judgements and organize their own work and study projects, and encourages an advanced ability to recognize differences and make thoughtful connections among divergent forms, genres, practices and identities.

Objectives include:

Knowledge and understanding - Students will gain knowledge and critical understanding of:

- a range of cultural practices, productions (visual art, films, writing, performances), and literary genres and texts, primarily in English
- selected theoretical paradigms and current debates in the field of Cultural Studies relevant to the themes of the course
- historical, political, social, and cultural contextualization of the contemporary British attitudes, practices, cultural productions and events taken as case studies
- Definitions and re-definitions of British national identity against the new multicultural and multi-ethnic social reality: Englishness, Britishness, "new British values", issues of exclusion and inclusion, new maps of belonging
- London as urban space, and as literary and film imaginary
- Borders, immigration, diaspora: refugees, asylum-seekers, illegal aliens and their representation in the British public sphere and in British literature, film, art, and music.

Depending on the specific focus of the programmes, a variety of other relevant notions and issues may be presented and analysed. These include, among others:

- notions of empire, post-empire, Commonwealth, post-colonialism, and the relations with the former colonies
- the issues of identity, alterity, difference, hybridity, hyphenated identities
- the issues of race, ethnicity, multiculturalism, and cosmopolitanism
- Psychogeography as an interpretive tool
- old and contemporary slaveries
- the conditions of production and consumption of cultural products
- the discourses and practices of dissent and resistance
- notions of power, ideology, hegemony and the ways they are reflected in British culture

Applying knowledge and understanding - Students will apply their acquired knowledge and understanding to:

- in-depth close reading and critical analysis of cultural productions and literary texts
- retrieve, select, synthesise, compare, evaluate and organize information
- debate and discuss relevant texts and issues in the class and in groups
- produce oral and written work, and PowerPoint presentations, consistent with the topics of the course

Making judgements - Students will acquire the following skills relevant to making judgements:

- adopt and transfer intercultural and plural perspectives of analysis
- develop comprehensive analytical and critical attitudes towards a diversity of cultural productions and literary texts
- draw comparisons and establish connections between the various contexts under scrutiny and their own situated experience
- demonstrate an awareness of different perspectives, and experiment with a diversity of approaches to selected issues consistent with the course

Communication skills - The course will enable students to:

- present their own work to an audience of peers
- organise and structure group work among peers
- use IT technology to support both academic work and networking

Learning skills - Through active participation and independent work, students will be able to:

- undertake further study with intellectual curiosity, autonomy, and ability to discriminate
- transfer the acquired skills to related fields of analysis
- apply multiple methodologies and a consistent approach to their dissertation and post-graduate research
Expected learning outcomes
Acquired knowledge and skills will match the objectives of the course by allowing students to select, contextualise, critically analyse, evaluate and discuss the thematic threads, the cultural practices, discourses and productions of contemporary Britain showing an awareness of their historical, political, social and cultural contextualizations. This will be done from a variety of perspectives and using, primarily, the methodological approaches of Cultural Studies.
Beside consolidating their skills in comprehension, and oral and written English, students will acquire advanced interdisciplinary methodological and cultural tools for discussing and analyzing cultural, political and media discourses and practices, literary and non-literary texts, visual culture, documentaries and films. The acquisition of these skills will be fostered by encouraging the students to form independent judgements and engage in active participation and dialogue, and by enabling them to draw comparisons and unravel the connections between the British contexts taken as case studies, and their own culture and experiences, according to a cross-cultural perspective which will enhance their ability to compare and assess different histories, ideologies, claims, cultural practices, and the way they offer thoughtful responses to central issues of the present.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Teaching Unit 1
L-LIN/10 - ENGLISH LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Teaching Unit 2
L-LIN/10 - ENGLISH LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours