English literature (MA)

A.Y. 2019/2020
9
Max ECTS
60
Overall hours
SSD
L-LIN/10
Language
English
Learning objectives
This course intends to provide students with reading paths and critical analysis of texts belonging to English literature produced in different periods and places. It follows thematic clusters according to diachronic and/or synchronic perspectives and offers students several critical approaches to literary texts. In addition, it aims at reflecting on the English literary canon and on its transformations through time. It also explores intertextual mechanisms and structures through different literary genres.
Expected learning outcomes
KNOWLEDGE: By the end of the course, students should be able to discuss the main issues and questions concerning the discipline, to place the literary texts included in the course within the cultural and literary context in which they were produced, and to provide thematic and critical interpretations of the literary works included in the programme.
LINGUISTIC AND LITERARY ABILITIES: Students should be able to read the texts and acknowledge their linguistic complexity. Students should also be able to critically analyse the texts included in the programme and be able to connect different authors, texts and literary trends. They should demonstrate understanding of different critical approaches and of the various levels of textual interpretation. In addition, students are expected to express themselves with clarity and precision and to use the specific terminology of the discipline correctly.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Responsible
Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
Course title:
Spatial representations and geographical metaphors in English fiction
It is divided into three units:
A. The city
B. The country
C. Islands
The course is addressed to graduate students specialising in Foreign Languages and Literatures. Students interested in the 6 credit exam can choose Unit A and Unit B or Unit A and Unit C or Unit B and Unit C; students interested in the 9 credit exam are required to study Unit A, B and C.
The syllabus is valid until July 2021.
The course investigates the literary representation of three major spaces defining English national identity: the city, the country and the island. English fiction is deeply rooted in the landscape and has re-created metapoetic depictions of places; in the novel, geographical features unfold symbolical and metaphorical meanings. The selection of texts offered by the course shows how Victorian, modern and contemporary literature is constantly engaged in issues of space, which shapes narrative patterns and forms, epitomising the relationships between identity and otherness. Unit A focuses on cityscapes and especially points to the metamorphoses of fictional London from Victorian to contemporary novels. Material and psychic portrayals of urban life reveal contradictory perceptions through different contexts and languages. Unit B deals with the countryside, the most traditional foundation of Englishness. The pastoral myth and the nostalgia for the English rural past play a distinctive yet ambiguous role. Unit C considers the insular nature of Britain and the dynamic construction and deconstruction of its islandscapes. The topos of the island, including separation and connection, is crucial in colonial and postcolonial ideology.
Prerequisites for admission
The course is taught in English. Students are expected to read English literary texts and criticism and to discuss them in English, therefore a very good knowledge of English is required. They should also show a very good knowledge of English literature from the XIX century onwards as well as a proven ability (acquired in BA courses) to analyse literary texts.
Teaching methods
The course employs the following teaching methods: lectures including close reading and analysis of the texts; audiovisual materials, such as sequences of television and film adaptations or documentaries, etc. Students are encouraged to actively participate in textual analysis and in the discussions in class.
Teaching Resources
The website of the course is online on the Ariel platform (http://ariel.unimi.it): students will be able to download slides and other materials. For each unit critical essays on general questions or on specific texts will be available. The website also contains general information on the course.
General bibliography:
Patrick Parrinder, Nation & Novel. The English Novel from its Origins to the Present Day (a selection of chapters to be provided)
Johannes Riquet, The Aesthetics of Island Space. Perception, Ideology, Geopoetics (a selection of chapters to be provided)
Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (a selection of chapters to be provided).
Other critical materials will be suggested during the course and will be uploaded on the Ariel website.
Unit A
Literary texts:
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (any edition in English with introduction and notes, for example Penguin or Oxford University Press)
R.L. Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (any edition in English with introduction and notes, for example Penguin or Oxford University Press)
Samuel Selvon, The Lonely Londoners (any edition in English)
Ian McEwan, Saturday (any edition in English) (to be replaced by Monica Ali, Brick Lane, if Saturday has already been read for other courses).
Unit B
Literary texts:
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (any edition in English with introduction and notes, for example Penguin or Oxford University Press)
Agatha Christie, The Sittaford Mystery (any edition in English)
Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts (any edition in English with introduction and notes, for example Penguin or Oxford University Press)
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (any edition in English) (to be replaced by V.S. Naipaul, The Enigma of Arrival, if The Remains of the Day has already been read for other courses).
Unit C
Literary texts:
William Golding, Lord of the Flies (any edition in English with introduction and notes, for example Penguin or Oxford University Press)
J.G. Ballard, Concrete Island (any edition in English)
Julian Barnes, England, England (any edition in English)
Andrea Levy, Small Island (any edition in English) (to be replaced by J.M. Coetzee, Foe, if Small Island has already been read for other courses).
Non-attending students will be provided with specific materials (critical essays).
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists in an oral interview. The minimun score is 18, the maximum is 30. The oral exam (in English) will entail general questions on the English novel, especially focusing on spaces and spatial images and metaphors and their narrative use. It will also include methodological questions on Englishness and the literary representation of national identity, the issues concerning the literary canon and the system of the literary genres as well as the main critical approaches to fiction. More specific questions will pertain to the literary texts included in the syllabus, their language and motifs, their connections and intertextual quality.
Students may accept or reject the mark, in this case it will be recorded as "ritirato".
Students with disabilities are requested to contact the teacher as well as the University Disability Services.
To sit the exam, students are expected to bring their own copies of all the literary texts in English.
When registering for the exam, students are required to refer to the name of the teacher who taught the course.
Unita' didattica A
L-LIN/10 - ENGLISH LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
L-LIN/10 - ENGLISH LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
L-LIN/10 - ENGLISH LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Educational website(s)
Professor(s)