American Literature LM

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course is offered in a double annuality as a specialized exploration of selections of US literary production, which will be conducted either from a thematic point of view or from a recent and current critical perspective. The course will present the fundamental theory and methodology of one or more critical approaches. Literary works will be read in class with the aim of training students in the skill of applying literary theory to critical text analysis.
Expected learning outcomes
Required knowledge: at the end of the course, students should demonstrate that they have understood the critical perspectives illustrated in class, and that they have become able to apply them to their analysis of literary texts. Moreover, they should prove their in-depth knowledge of all the literary works included in the course reading list. Required linguistic skills: at the end of the course, students should demonstrate the ability to read the original versions of the literary works included in the reading list, and to translate them into Italian (or to paraphrase them in English, in the case of international students). Moreover, they should demonstrate, in English, their capacity to interpret the literary texts correctly, and to discuss their interpretations, as well as their application of the acquired theory and methodology to literary analysis. Required literary skills: at the end of the course, students should be able to conduct a critical interpretation of the literary works included in the reading list according to the acquired theory and methods, and to perform a literary analysis of the same from both a thematic and a formal point of view. Finally, they should show the ability to make connections between the various authors and works they have been studying.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Teaching methods:
During the public health emergency, the course will be held partly through synchronous online classes on Teams, partly through the asynchronous uploading of audio-files and PPT presentations on Ariel.

Reference materials:
All the didactic materials necessary to attend the course will be uploaded on Ariel, in a dedicated folder titled LM20-21 Contemporary American Poetry, located within the folder Materiali didattici.
Updated programs and syllabi will be uploaded in the folder Informazioni sul corso.
Attending students must refer to all the lessons, materials and resources published in the online course, in addition to the bibliography already listed in the program.

Assessment methods and criteria:
Exams are oral and are given in videoconferencing (on Teams), according to the directives provided by the University. The details and calendars of the oral examinations are published and constantly updated on the Ariel Bacheca.
Course syllabus
The course is titled Contemporary American Poetry and consists of the following didactic units:
A: Post WW2 Poetry: From Formalism to the Schools
B: Language Poetry, New Formalism, and Independent Poets
C: Ethnic Poets, Performance Poetry, and Rewritings
Students from both Lingue and from other-than-Lingue degree courses who want to acquire 6 credits should complete Units A and B; those who want to acquire 9 credits should complete the whole course syllabus.
The course is an introduction to contemporary American poetry. It develops partly according to a chronological principle, partly following the trends and kinds of poetic production. Unit A moves from 1940s Formalism to Post-WW2 Schools or avant-gardes; Unit B deals with the 1970s and 1980s opposed trends of Language Poetry and Expansive Poetry, and presents some independent figures; Unit C focuses on samples of rewritings, ethnic poetry and performance poetry.
The course syllabus is valid until February 2022.
Prerequisites for admission
The course is open to students from all degree courses. It is completely delivered in English. Lectures, materials and bibliography require a sound knowledge of the English language.
International students and Erasmus students are welcome as long as they own the required linguistic skills.
Teaching methods
The course is mainly delivered as lectures, in which students will be involved through the reading and interpretation of literary texts, and the discussion of theoretical and critical essays. Students are required to come to class having prepared the readings assigned for the week's syllabus. Audio-visual materials may be used in class.
Teaching Resources
· Paola Loreto, "La poesia americana dal secondo dopoguerra a oggi", in Il Novecento USA. Narrazioni e culture letterarie del secolo americano, eds. Sara Antonelli and Giorgio Mariani. Roma, Carocci, 2009, pp. 323-356.
· Cristina Iuli, Paola Loreto, ed., La Letteratura degli Stati Uniti dal Rinascimento americano ai nostri giorni, Carocci, 2017: chapts. 12 & 14.

For non-Italian speaking students:
· The Cambridge History of American Poetry, vol. 8, chapts. "Rear Guards", "AvantGardes", "Authenticity", "The Place of Poets 1995".
· Christopher Beach, The Cambridge Introduction to Twentieth-Century American Poetry, 2003, chapts. 7-10.

Didactic Unit A
· from The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 9th edition (Vol. E):


RICHARD WILBUR (b. 1921), p. 327
"The Beautiful Changes", p. 328
"Love Call Us to the Things of This World", p. 330

ROBERT LOWELL (1917-1977), p. 286
"The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket", p. 290 (1st stanza)
"Skunk Hour", p. 301

Charles Olson, From Projective Verse, p. 376

ALLEN GINSBERG (1926-1997), p. 485
"Notes Written on Finally Recording Howl" (ARIEL)
From Howl, p. 487

FRANK O'HARA (1926-1966), p. 499
From Personism: A Manifesto, p. 378
"Why I Am Not a Painter", p. 501

JOHN ASHBERY (b. 1927), p. 511
From "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror", p. 515

ANNE SEXTON (1928-1974), p. 549
"Sylvia's Death", p. 551

SYLVIA PLATH (1932-1963), p. 620
"Lady Lazarus", p. 622

· Paola Loreto, "Richard Wilbur: L'appetito della forma." (Richard Wilbur: The Appetite for Form.) With an interview and 11 translations. Poesia 220 (Oct. 2007): 43-53. (ARIEL)
· Paola Loreto, "F. O'Hara" and "C. Olson," in La letteratura Americana dal 1900 a oggi. Dizionario per autori. (PBE 34) Eds. Luca Briasco e Mattia Carratello. Poetry ed. Paola Loreto. Torino: Einaudi, 2011.

Didactic Unit B:

· LANGUAGE POETRY: BERNADETTE MAYER & CHARLES BERNSTEIN (in Paola Loreto, "La poesia americana dal secondo dopoguerra a oggi").

· EXPANSIVE POETRY: MARY JO SALTER (in Paola Loreto, "La poesia americana dal secondo dopoguerra a oggi").

· from The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 9th edition (Vol. E):

ELIZABETH BISHOP (1911-1979), p. 54
"The Fish", p. 56
One Art, p. 72

DENISE LEVERTOV (1923-1997), p. 386
"To the Snake", p. 387

A.R. AMMONS (1926-2001), p. 460
From A Poem Is A Walk, p. 382
From Garbage, p. 468

GARY SNYDER (b. 1930), p. 595
"Riprap", p. 597
"Beneath My Hand and Eye the Distant Hills. Your Body", p. 599

MARY OLIVER (b. 1935), p. 687
"The Black Snake", p. 689
"Alligator Poem", p. 693

PHILIP LEVINE (b. 1928), p. 544
"Animals Are Passing from Our Lives", p. 545

CHARLES SIMIC (b. 1938), p. 764
"Fork", p. 765
"A Book Full of Pictures", p. 767

BILLY COLLINS (b. 1941), p. 822
"Forgetfulness", p. 823

SHARON OLDS (b. 1942), p. 856
"Sex Without Love", p. 857
"I Go Back to May 1937", p. 857
"Little Things", p. 858

· Paola Loreto, "Un villaggio baciato dalla Musa: Amherst 1830-2008." With translations from Mary Jo Salter, Brad Leithauser, Daniel Hall and David Sofield. Poesia 237 (April 2009): 52-65. (ARIEL)
· Paola Loreto, "A. R. Ammons. L'angelo storpio", article & translations. Poesia 277 (Dec. 2012): 2-14. (ARIEL)
· Paola Loreto, "A.R. Ammons," "C. Bernstein," "B. Collins," "D. Levertov," "P. Levine," "M. Oliver," "C. Simic," in La letteratura Americana dal 1900 a oggi. Dizionario per autori. (PBE 34) Eds. Luca Briasco e Mattia Carratello. Poetry ed. Paola Loreto. Torino: Einaudi, 2011.
· Paola Loreto, "Philip Levine: Il sentimento dell'ironia." (Philip Levine: The Feeling of Irony.) With 9 translations. Poesia (May 2001): 60-72. (ARIEL)
· Paola Loreto, "La carriera di un poeta americano: intervista a Philip Levine". (An American Poet's Career: An Interview with Philip Levine.) With 4 translations. Acoma 20 (Winter 2001): 56-68. A longer, original (in English) version of the interview and the translations can be found on the WEB (
· Paola Loreto, "Il nuovo mito della natura americana: la ecopoetry", Miti della modernità. Eds. Giovanna Mochi e Roberto Venuti, Roma, Artemide, 2015: 117-128.
· Paola Loreto, "Charles Simic". Translation of 8 poems. Almanacco dello specchio 2008. Eds. Maurizio Cucchi and Antonio Riccardi, Milano: Mondadori, 2008, pp. 113-127. (ARIEL)

Didactic Unit C:

· from The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 9th edition (Vol. E):

GUENDOLYN BROOKS (1917-2000), p. 305
"the mother", p. 307

AUDRE LORDE (1934-1992), p. 684
"Black Mother Woman", p. 687

LUCILLE CLIFTON (1936-2010), p. 694
"miss rosie", p. 695
"homage to my hips", p. 696

JOY HARJO (b. 1951), p. 1032
"Eagle Poem" (ARIEL)

SIMON ORTIZ, p. 1032
"Passing through Little Rock", p. 818
"Earth and Rain, the Plants & Sun", p. 818

LI-YOUNG LEE (b. 1957)
"The Gift", p. 1083

PERFORMANCE POETRY: texts and links for Internet navigation are posted on ARIEL.

AMY NEWMAN (b. 1957)
howl (ARIEL)

· Paola Loreto, "Amy Newman. Il canto della percezione." (Amy Newman's Song of Perception.) With 11 translations. Poesia 183 (May 2004): 14-24. (ARIEL)

Notice for non-attending students
The course syllabus is the same for attending and non-attending students. However, non-attending students are strongly encouraged to facilitate their study by consulting both online resources and the departmental library.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Oral: the exam is an interview, during which students will demonstrate their capacity to read and translate the literary texts listed in the course syllabus (non-Italian students will be asked to paraphrase the same in English); their knowledge of the historical, cultural, and literary context of both the texts and writers proposed; their knowledge of the literary works proposed; their critical abilities (i.e., their capacity to analyze the literary works, and to connect different authors, texts and literary trends).
LM students from Lingue are required to take their exam in English. Students from other-than-Lingue degree courses may choose to take their exam either in Italian or in English.
The final score is expressed in thirtieths, 18/30 being the pass score. Students may accept or reject the result (in which case the record will be "ritirato," and they will have to take the whole exam again in a future session).
International or Erasmus incoming students are kindly requested to contact the teacher. Also students with any disabilities should contact the teacher in order to agree on alternative examination methods, in agreement with the competent office.
It is mandatory to bring along an academic edition of all the literary texts listed in the syllabus.
Unità didattica A
Lessons: 20 hours
Unità didattica B
Lessons: 20 hours
Unità didattica C
Lessons: 20 hours
In the Fall semester (teaching period) on Thursdays at 11:00; in the Spring Semester (teaching period) on Thursdays at 15:00. Otherwise, check on the Bacheca on ARIEL. During the sanitary emergency please contact Prof. Loreto by email.
Dept. of Lingue, Anglistica section, third Floor (Sottotetto), piazza Sant'Alessandro 1