English Culture I

A.Y. 2019/2020
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 on our current experience of contemporaneity.
These aims are pursued through the methodological and critical tools of cultural studies, which, in tune with the avowed educational and vocational objectives of our Master Degree Course, privilege multicultural and interdisciplinary exchanges and perspectives. 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, in line with the overall mission of Lingue e Culture per la Comunicazione e la Cooperazione Internazionale.

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 in English, relevant to the main themes of the course, which they will approach through the lens of selected Cultural Studies practices and theories, applied to the current British context. Knowledge and understanding of the historical, political and social background, as well as of essential cultural paradigms, will be important elements of the programme. These include, but are not limited to: definitions and re-definitions of British national identity against the new multicultural and multi-ethnic social reality; Englishness, Britishness, exclusion and inclusion; London as urban space, and as literary and film imaginary; borders, immigration, diaspora and their representation in the British public sphere and in British literature, film, art, and music. Other themes, connected to specific courses, may include notions such as: empire, post-empire, Commonwealth, post-colonialism, and the relations with the former colonies; identity, alterity, difference, hybridity; "race", ethnicity, multiculturalism, and cosmopolitanism; the discourses and practices of dissent and resistance; power, ideology, hegemony and the ways they are reflected in British culture; politics, practices and representations of the body; alterity, speculative genres, science fiction.
Applying knowledge and understanding - Students will have the opportunity to apply their acquired knowledge and understanding to in-depth close reading and critical analysis of cultural productions and literary texts; to improving their ability to retrieve, select, synthesise, compare, evaluate and organize relevant information and materials; to debating and discussing relevant texts and issues in the class and in groups and producing oral and written work in English, and PowerPoint presentations, consistent with the topics of the course.
Making judgements - Students will acquire the following skills relevant to making informed and autonomous judgements: by acquiring and developing comprehensive analytical and critical attitudes towards a diversity of cultural productions and literary texts, they will be better equipped to embrace and transfer intercultural and plural perspectives of analysis. The ability to draw comparisons and establish connections between the various contexts under scrutiny, and the habit to experiment with a diversity of approaches to selected issues consistent with the course will also be major assets in developing judgements skills.
Communication skills - The course will enable students to enhance their ability to use English to discuss selected topics, present their own work to an audience of peers and engage the audience in fruitful debates, use IT technology to support both academic study, research and networking.
Expected learning outcomes
Acquired knowledge and skills will match the multicultural mission and learning objectives of the Master Degree Course by allowing students to select, contextualise, critically analyse, evaluate and discuss the thematic threads, the cultural practices, discourses, literary, visual and artistic productions of contemporary Britain showing an awareness of their historical, political, social and cultural backgrounds. The acquisition of these skills will be fostered by encouraging the students to engage in active participation and dialogue and by enabling them to draw comparisons and unravel the connections between the British context and their own culture and experiences, according to a cross-cultural perspective which, in line with the overall objectives of Lingue e Culture per la Comunicazione e la Cooperazione Internazionale, will enhance their ability to compare different histories, ideologies, claims, cultural practices, and the way they offer thoughtful responses to central issues of the present. Through active participation and independent work, students will develop linguistic and argumentative skills which will help them undertake further study with a higher degree of intellectual curiosity, autonomy, and ability to discriminate, transfer the acquired skills to related fields of analysis and apply multiple methodologies and a consistent intercultural approach to their dissertation and post-graduate research.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
The course will focus on the interconnected notions of "bordering" and "border-crossing" (and their symbolic constructions in politics, literature, films, and the arts) in order to highlight their associations with current politics of isolation and nativism , and neo-liberal discourses of globalization and austerity in the UK. Particular attention will be given to the role of the literary, artistic and counter-hegemonic imagination in addressing the emotional and cultural complexities of the present conjuncture, as well as their social and cultural fallout.

Building on Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson's theory of the "border as method" (2013), which takes the notion of the border as an "epistemic angle", a theoretical tool through which to explore its power and effectiveness in implementing dynamics of governmental inclusion and exclusion on a selective basis, the first module aims to investigate issues of nationhood, otherness, precarization, concrete and virtual practices of territorial, social, discursive and cultural borderization against the backcloth of the UK's current conjuncture.

The second module, which is centred, mostly, on fictional representations, focuses on the way fear of strangers and nativist hate speech, alongside issues of otherness, intrusion and abjection, and new understandings of inclusiveness and welcoming, are imaginatively probed and negotiated in these novels, which effectively expose institutional discrimination, xenophobia and self-defeating nationalism against the backcloth of both pre- and post-Brexit Britain. Rupert Thomson's Divided Kingdom, in particular, challenges the power of public discourse to erect (and police) cultural and racial boundaries by stressing the role of the artistic imagination in opening up new powerful imaginaries of tolerance and togetherness. John Lanchester's more sombre and dystopian The Wall, by contrast, compounds the multiple horrors (and utter futility) of defence walls by pitching them against the dramatic landscape of a post-climate-disaster world where everybody is exposed to the risk of becoming a stateless person and humanity itself is put to the test.

Students who want to earn only 3 CREDITS have to prepare the programme and bibliography of the first module of the course, centred on theory and essays. If they are more interested in fiction, and would like to prepare the programme of the second module, they are required to contact their professor by email or in person.
Prerequisites for admission
Students are expected to have a good command of English, as lectures, films, texts and debates will be in that language. Lectures by guest speakers may be in Italian. Students from other Universities or Degree Courses who do not have a background in Cultural Studies may read: Roberto Pedretti, Itala Vivan, Dalla Lambretta allo skateboard. Teorie e storia delle culture giovanili britanniche (1950-2000), Milano, Unicopli 2009 (or, in English, Gary Hall, Clare Birchall, eds., New Cultural Studies: Adventures in Theory, University of Georgia Press, 2006).
Teaching methods
The lectures will mainly rely on whole-class teaching (including internet usage, online material and articles, films, slides, talks by guest speakers moderated by the course lecturers, discussion sessions with the participation of the students). Group work and students' autonomous productions and commentary on essays and additional material will be highly encouraged and actively pursued.
Teaching Resources
The bibliography of the first module consists in 4 compulsory essays, plus 1 essay to be freely selected from the following list, so as to further the individual interests of the students:

Compulsory essays:
· Mezzadra, Sandro and Brett Neilson, "Preface", and "Chapter I: 'The Proliferation of Borders'", in Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor, Durham, Duke University Press, 2013, pp. vii-24.

· Ashcroft, Bill, "Borders, Bordering and the Transnation", English Academy Review, 36, 1 (2019), pp. 5-19.

· Rainey, Mark Justin, "Colonus and Lampedusa: The Tragedy of the Border and the Dialectics of Repair", Third Text, 32, 1 (2018), pp. 1-11.

· Spiering, Menno, "Ch. 3 - The Island Story", in Spiering, A Cultural History of British Euroscepticism, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 30-43.

Plus 1 essay to be chosen from the following list:

· Featherstone, Mark (2013): "'Hoodie Horror': The Capitalist Other in Postmodern Society". In: Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, vol. 35, n. 3, pp. 178-196.

· Till, Jeremy, "The broken middle: The space of the London riots", Cities, 34 (2013), pp. 71-74.

· van Houtum, Henk, and Ton Van Naerssen (2002). "Bordering, Ordering and Othering". Tijdschrift vor Economische en Sociale Geografie 93 (2): 125.136

· Grisinas, Arvidas, Ch. 9 - "Imaginary walls and the paradox of strength", in Horvath, Agnes, Marius Ion Benta and Joan Davison, eds (2019). Walling, Boundaries and Liminality: A Political Anthropology of Transformations. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 155-170.

Plus all the slides and files made available on the Ariel website of the course (http://ldemichelisci1e2lin.ariel.ctu.unimi.it)
NON-ATTENDING STUDENTS will have to prepare the same bibliography as the others (Ariel files, lectures and films not included).

· As an alternative, the STUDENTS UNABLE TO ATTEND may prepare the whole book by Mezzadra and Neilsen The Border as Method instead of the rest of Module 1.
*Most of the essays are available freely through the internet or the University Library online periodicals division. (Don't forget to log in!).

Students will be invited to participate actively in the analysis through workshop activities, presentations on essays and films, and debates.

The bibliography of the second module, which is centred on literary representations and is the same for attending and non-attending students, consists in two novels, 1 essays to be freely selected from a series of options listed below. The optional essays are meant to encourage the individual interests of the students:


· Rupert Thomson, Divided Kingdom, London, Bloomsbury, 2005 (or any edition).

· John Lanchester, The Wall, London, Faber & Faber, 2019.

1 essay to be chosen among the following ones:

· De Michelis, Lidia, "Divided Kingdom di Rupert Thomson e la geografia degli umori", Culture 20 (2012), pp. 229-250.

· Duggan, Robert, "'Border games' and security in the work of Rupert Thomson", in Rupert Thomson: Critical Essays, ed. by Rebecca Pohl and Chris Vardy, Gylphi, 2016, http://clok.uclan.ac.uk/14274/1/14274_duggan_draft.pdf

· Yusoff, Kathryn and Jennifer Grabrys, "Climate change and the imagination", WIRES climate change, vol. 2, 4 (2011), pp. 516-534.

· Nail, Thomas, "Forum 1: Migrant climate in the Kinocene", Mobilities, 14, 3 (2019), pp 375-380.

· Bettini, Giovanni, "And yet it moves! (Climate) migration as a symptom in the Anthropocene",
Mobilities, 14, 3 (2019), pp. 336-350.

· Baldwin, Andrew, "Climate Change, Migration, and the Crisis of Humanism", WIRES-Climate Change, 8 (2017), pp. 1-7.

All the slides and files made available on the Ariel website of the course (http://ldemichelisca1e2lin.ariel.ctu.unimi.it)
*Most of the essays are available freely through the internet or the University Library online periodicals division. (Don't forget to log in!).
Students will be invited to participate actively in the analysis through workshop activities and debates.

*Most of the essays are available freely through the internet or the University Library online periodicals division. (Don't forget to log in!).
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final exam will consist of a critical and detailed oral discussion on all the texts, files and other material included in the programme. Students are to take the exam in English, and are required to demonstrate their full knowledge of the texts and the syllabus, and to be able to contextualise, analyse, evaluate and discuss them critically in the light of the analytical tools and cultural studies approach developed during the course. Building on the information and bibliography provided during the course, they must be able, as well, to show a sufficient awareness of the historical and cultural background of the United Kingdom, along the perspectives discussed in the syllabus.

Towards the end of the course there will be an optional written test (in Italian, lasting two hours), based on Unit 1, for the students who attended the course on a regular basis. Foreign students (and the students who choose to do so) will be able to take the test in English, if they wish. It will be centred on the essays, films and online files and presentations provided during the first module and made available on the Ariel website of the course. It will consist of a few open questions (usually 5, unless otherwise stated), centred on a series of texts which will be listed on Ariel shortly before the exam. The results of the test will be published on the Ariel website of the course. Passing this test will allow the students to concentrate only on the second module for their final oral exam. Students are free not to take this test and discuss the whole programme in their final oral exam. Students attending the course may choose, on request and after contacting their professor, to prepare a presentation on topics pertaining to the issues explored in Module 1, but not included among the prescribed readings, instead of preparing the optional essays, files and slides included in the same module.

For students attending the course who will choose to take the written test, the mark of the final exam (in a scale of 30) will be a combination of the marks obtained in the written test, the evaluation of their active participation in the course (plus, on a voluntary basis, their autonomous productions), and the result of the final oral discussion.
Students attending the course who will choose not to take the written test will have to discuss in the final oral exam the whole programme (essays, online files, novels, autonomous productions).

For students unable to attend the course, the final exam will be a critical oral discussion of the whole programme (including the alternative material for students not attending the course listed in this programme as an option).
Non-attending students are welcome to refer to their lecturers for questions and further comment about the contents and programme of the course during office hours or by email. The same applies to foreign students in need of individual advice.

Excellence (honours) will be awarded to students who will show deep understanding of the methodological approach, will adopt originality of presentation, and will be able to critically connect events, texts, and cultural practices, analysed in both their local and global dimensions, according to a cross-cultural perspective.

Students who want to earn only 3 CREDITS have to prepare the programme and bibliography of the first module of the course, centred on theory and essays. If they are more interested in fiction, and would like to prepare the programme of the second module, they are required to contact their professor by email or in person.
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