English Culture II

A.Y. 2017/2018
9
Max ECTS
60
Overall hours
SSD
L-LIN/10
Language
English
Learning objectives
Focusing on the literary and non-literary works, films, art forms, discourses and cultural practices which inform and characterize the current British debate on national and cultural identity against the backdrop of the country's imperial past and with a view to redefine its role in Europe and globally, this course aims to enhance the students' knowledge and understanding of these themes, which are central concerns in the British and European experience of contemporaneity. This aim is pursued through the methodological and critical tools of cultural studies, which privilege an understanding of ideological and socio-spatial relations, as well as a multicultural and interdisciplinary approach. The course is meant to foster active participation from the students, so as to enhance, beside their English speaking skills, their ability to make judgements and recognize the differences and connections among divergent forms, genres, and cultures.

Objectives include:

Knowledge and understanding - Students will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- a range of cultural practices, productions (visual art, films, writing, performances), and literary texts, primarily in English
- the most relevant approaches of Cultural Studies on contemporary British issues and contexts
- historical, political, social, and cultural contextualization of the contemporary practices and events taken as case study
- Englishness, Britishness, "new British values" and "postimperial melancholia": definitions and re-definitions of British national identity against the new multicultural and multi-ethnic social reality: issues of exclusion and inclusion
- Borders, immigration, diaspora: refugees, asylum-seekers, illegal aliens and their representation in the British public sphere and in British literature, film, art, and music.
- London as space and imaginary

Depending on the specific focus of the programmes, a variety of other relevant notions and issues may be presented and analysed. These include, but not exclusively:
- empire, post-empire, Commonwealth, post-colonialism, and the relations with the former colonies
- power, ideology, hegemony and the ways they are reflected in British cultural phenomena
- issues of identity, alterity, difference, hybridity, hyphenated identities
- race, ethnicity, multiculturalism, and cosmopolitanism
- the conditions of cultural production and consumption
- the discourses and practices of consensus and resistance

Applying knowledge and understanding - Students will apply their acquired knowledge and understanding to:
- close read and analyse cultural productions and literary texts
- select and synthesise relevant information
- debate and discuss relevant texts and issues in the class and in groups
- produce brief oral or 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 intercultural and plural perspectives of analysis
- develop analytical and critical attitudes towards cultural productions and literary texts
- draw comparisons and establish connections between the various contexts under scrutiny and their own situated experience

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 a higher degree of intellectual curiosity, autonomy, and ability to discriminate
- transfer the acquired skills to related fields of analysis
- apply a methodological approach to future research and activities
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 the methodological approaches of Cultural Studies.
Beside consolidating their skills in comprehension, and oral and written English, students will acquire new, interdisciplinary methodological and cultural tools for discussing and analyzing cultural, political and media discourses and practices, fictional and non-fictional texts, visual culture, documentaries and films. The acquisition of these skills will be fostered by encouraging active participation and dialogue, and by enabling the students to draw comparisons between the British context and their own situated experience of being Italians and citizens of the world, so as to facilitate forms of engagement with the issues and challenges of the present.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
ATTENDING STUDENTS
Teaching Unit 1
Course syllabus
"Brexit Britain: Representing Migrants, Asylum Seekers and the Redrawing of Cultural and Economic Boundaries against the Framework of the European Crisis"
Against the framework of the complex and controversial political, economic, social and cultural conjuncture which has characterized the period in British history which began with the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 and led to the return to power in 2010 of the Conservative Party (still in charge), module 1 will address, in particular, the issue of austerity (seen in terms both of the implementation of actual policies and of the establishment of a hegemonic discursive and moral patterns), and the way its fallout has helped to create a searing social and cultural divide across the country. This conjuncture has encouraged the emergence of widespread discontent, which, as in other European countries, has been channeled into a renewed sense of exclusive and nostalgic national identity. Often fueled by segments of the so-called 'popular' media and by nationalist parties, this misplaced feeling of belonging is at the heart of the anti-immigrant positions lying behind the 2016 vote for Brexit. Xeno-racism and hostility towards migrants will be the main focus of this module, which will address literary works, plays and films that attempt to resist such widespread prejudice through alternative representations of asylum seekers and migrants. In this light, attention will be paid, in particular, to Anders Lustgarten's "Lampedusa" (which highlights the common matrix interconnecting policies of austerity and anti-immigrant feelings, Britain, Italy and the rest of Europe) and the practical literary action embodied in "Refugee Tales", a collection of short stories which aims to make migrants' voices heard by combining storytelling and civil action.

Study material and readings: Module 1

Literary texts:
· Anders Lustgarten, Lampedusa, London, Methuen, 2015 (48 pages)
· David Herd, Anna Pincus (eds), Refugee Tales, CommaPress, 2016 (the short stories students have to prepare will be listed on the Ariel website of the course when lectures begin)

Essays:
· Lidia De Michelis, "The Border Spectacle and the Dramaturgy of Hope in Anders Lustgarten's Lampedusa"; in Claudia Gualtieri, Roberto Pedretti, Cecile Sandten and Tobias Schlosser (eds), Crisis, Risks and New Regionalisms in Europe, Trier, WVT Publishers, 2017 forthcoming, pp. 219-235
· Imogen Tyler, "Welcome to Britain: The Cultural Politics of Asylum", European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 9, n. 2, 2006, pp. 185-202.
· Pietro Deandrea, "the Spectralized Camp: Cultural Representations of British New Slaveries", Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, vol. 17, n. 4, 2015, pp. 488-502.

- In addition students will have to prepare all the slides and files available on the Ariel website of the course
Teaching Unit 2
Course syllabus
"Invisible Aliens: Economic Migrants, New Slaveries and Ghostly Regimes of Oppression in Ian Rankin's Fleshmarket Close"
Module 2 will explore the plight of economic migrants and the victims of new slaveries in contemporary Britain from a perspective privileging new forms of exploitation and xenoracism. Transcending conventional understandings of race as colour-coded, xenoracism is directed primarily against the indigent foreign "Other". This new category of "unwanted others" is criminalized by public opinion as people attempting to take undue advantage of the benefits and resources available to citizens, even while they are in fact exploited by ruthless entrepreneurs and obliged to live (and die) under impossible conditions. This is the background to Ian Rankin's "Fleshmarket Close", also known as "Fleshmarket Alley", a beautifully nuanced detective novel which brings to life the rich emotional world of these "invisible" aliens and the ruthless logics of their criminal exploiters and enslavers.

Study material and readings: Module 2

Literary texts:
· Ian Rankin, Fleshmarket Close, Oberon Books, 2004 (or, any other edition)

Essays:
- Pietro Deandrea, "Unravelling Unpersons: Inscribing the Voices of Contemporary Slavery in the UK", Textus, XXII, 3 (2009), pp. 665-680.

- In addition students will have to prepare all the slides and files available on the Ariel website of the course.
Teaching Unit 3
Course syllabus
"The Corbyn Effect: The Making of Consent and the Return of the Radical Imagination"
In the light of Brexit (2016) and following the election results of June 2017, module 3 will discuss the divisive political and cultural tensions, as well as the controversial issues of nationhood, identity and belonging, that are currently affecting the United Kingdom. Special attention will be paid to the Labour Party's leader Jeremy Corbyn and his political strategies, in order to point to the ways in which his success may be understood as responding to the desire for new forms of political participation expressed by broad sectors of civil society and, in particular, by the young.

Study material and readings: Module 3

Reports, manifestos and essays:
· Labour Manifesto 2017: For the Many not the Few (free download: http://www.labour.org.uk/page/-/Images/manifesto-017/Labour%20Manifesto…)
(selected excerpts, to be listed on the ARIEL website of the course)
· London School of Economics Report: Journalistic Representations of Jeremy Corbyn in the British Press: From Watchdog to Attackdog (free download: http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/pdf/JeremyCorbyn/Cobyn-Report.p…)
(selected excerpts, to be listed on the ARIEL website of the course)
· Da: Mark Perryman (ed.), The Corbyn Effect, London, Lawrence & Wishart, 2017 ("Introduction" by Mark Perryman; Jessica Garland, "Labour's new model activism"; Phil Burton-Cartledge, "The Labour Party as a social movement")
· Course notes, powerpoint presentations, and materials available on the ARIEL website of the course.
NON-ATTENDING STUDENTS
Teaching Unit 1
Course syllabus
"Brexit Britain: Representing Migrants, Asylum Seekers and the Redrawing of Cultural and Economic Boundaries against the Framework of the European Crisis"
Against the framework of the complex and controversial political, economic, social and cultural conjuncture which has characterized the period in British history which began with the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 and led to the return to power in 2010 of the Conservative Party (still in charge), module 1 will address, in particular, the issue of austerity (seen in terms both of the implementation of actual policies and of the establishment of a hegemonic discursive and moral patterns), and the way its fallout has helped to create a searing social and cultural divide across the country. This conjuncture has encouraged the emergence of widespread discontent, which, as in other European countries, has been channeled into a renewed sense of exclusive and nostalgic national identity. Often fueled by segments of the so-called 'popular' media and by nationalist parties, this misplaced feeling of belonging is at the heart of the anti-immigrant positions lying behind the 2016 vote for Brexit. Xeno-racism and hostility towards migrants will be the main focus of this module, which will address literary works, plays and films that attempt to resist such widespread prejudice through alternative representations of asylum seekers and migrants. In this light, attention will be paid, in particular, to Anders Lustgarten's "Lampedusa" (which highlights the common matrix interconnecting policies of austerity and anti-immigrant feelings, Britain, Italy and the rest of Europe) and the practical literary action embodied in "Refugee Tales", a collection of short stories which aims to make migrants' voices heard by combining storytelling and civil action.

Study material and readings - STUDENTS UNABLE TO ATTEND - Module 1
The programme is the same as for attending students. Students are welcome, if they wish, to replace the ppt presentations and files published on the ARIEL website of the course (but NOT the ESSAYS, which are compulsory for all students), with the following:
Either: option 1) 1 more essay:
· Bridget Anderson, "The Politics of Pests: Immigration and the Invasive Other", Social Research: An International Quarterly, vol. 84, n. 1, 2017, pp. 7-28.

Or: option 2) 4 more short stories from Refugee Tales, to be freely chosen by the students among the ones that are not included in the official syllabus.
Teaching Unit 2
Course syllabus
"Invisible Aliens: Economic Migrants, New Slaveries and Ghostly Regimes of Oppression in Ian Rankin's Fleshmarket Close"
Module 2 will explore the plight of economic migrants and the victims of new slaveries in contemporary Britain from a perspective privileging new forms of exploitation and xenoracism. Transcending conventional understandings of race as colour-coded, xenoracism is directed primarily against the indigent foreign "Other". This new category of "unwanted others" is criminalized by public opinion as people attempting to take undue advantage of the benefits and resources available to citizens, even while they are in fact exploited by ruthless entrepreneurs and obliged to live (and die) under impossible conditions. This is the background to Ian Rankin's "Fleshmarket Close", also known as "Fleshmarket Alley", a beautifully nuanced detective novel which brings to life the rich emotional world of these "invisible" aliens and the ruthless logics of their criminal exploiters and enslavers.


Study material and readings - STUDENTS UNABLE TO ATTEND - Module 2

The programme is the same as for attending students. Students are welcome, if they wish, to replace the programme of the whole module with the following:
· Deandrea, Pietro, New Slaveries in contemporary British literature and visual arts: The Ghost and the Camp, Manchester U.P, 2015 (Part III; Part IV).
Teaching Unit 3
Course syllabus
"The Corbyn Effect: The Making of Consent and the Return of the Radical Imagination"
In the light of Brexit (2016) and following the election results of June 2017, module 3 will discuss the divisive political and cultural tensions, as well as the controversial issues of nationhood, identity and belonging, that are currently affecting the United Kingdom. Special attention will be paid to the Labour Party's leader Jeremy Corbyn and his political strategies, in order to point to the ways in which his success may be understood as responding to the desire for new forms of political participation expressed by broad sectors of civil society and, in particular, by the young.

Study material and readings - STUDENTS UNABLE TO ATTEND - Module 3

The programme is the same as for attending students. Students are welcome, if they wish, to replace the ppt presentations and files published on the ARIEL website of the course with sections from the following book, which will be listed on the same website after the lectures begin:
· Domenico Cerabona Ferrari (a cura di), Jeremy Corbyn. La rivoluzione gentile, Roma, Castelvecchi, 2016.
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
Teaching Unit 3
L-LIN/10 - ENGLISH LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours