Anglophone Literatures

A.Y. 2020/2021
9
Max ECTS
60
Overall hours
SSD
L-LIN/10
Language
English
Learning objectives
The course investigates some pivotal aspects of African and Indian literatures, in order to involve students in deep critical analyses of the literary texts proposed, supported by the knowledge of history and of local culture. The aim of the course is to take students beyond the traditional boundaries of the British/Irish canon to discover rich and fascinating Anglophone literary traditions in Africa and Asia; accordingly, the programme introduces some of the most relevant non-English writers and some key issues in the current debate on global English literature. The active participation of students will be promoted through presentations and paper submissions, in order to stimulate and enhance their critical and argumentative skills (both oral and written).
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, students will have a sound knowledge of the historical, cultural and literary background of the investigated cultural and geographical areas. They will be able to carry out in-depth textual and critical analyses of the literary works listed in the syllabus, relying on the critical studies provided in the reading list. They will also acquire critical tools to carry out an independent critical assessment of the literary texts and of the cultural issues dealt with in class, taking into consideration the theoretical and critical perspectives introduced and discussed during the course.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Responsible
Lesson period
Second semester
At the beginning of the course, a Microsoft Teams channel will be available, where classes will take place in the case of a further restriction of classroom activities. To enter the team, please use the following code ctgpr1u.
Online classes will follow the same schedule as those in the classroom.
Course syllabus
The course is entitled "A Postsecular Reading of the Postcolonial", and consists of the following didactic units:
A) Secularism in Indian Highbrow Culture (Prof. Vescovi)
B) Non-secular elements in the Indian Anglophone Novel (Prof. Vescovi)
C) Secular narrative and spiritual feeling in contemporary South African literature (Prof. Iannaccaro)

Unit A deals with the notion of secularism in South Asia, highlighting its peculiarities in comparison with the same notion as applied in the West. We shall also consider some instances of resistance to the homogenizing force of the secular tradition in novels.
Unit B will consider a few Indian novels from a post-secularist perspective, highlighting elements that may take on different meanings when read from the viewpoint of the Hindu tradition (religion, mythology, mysticism). Such elements may surface as references to myths, to beliefs, religious practices, or to Hindu values.
Unit C deals with South African literature and focuses on the contemporary novelist and playwright Zakes Mda. His literary production in English, albeit following Western literary models and employing irony as a privileged literary technique, conveys a deep feeling of the sacredness of life and of the human (and non-human) need to acknowledge and relish the spiritual dimension of existence.

Course attendance is highly recommended. Those who cannot attend classes are invited to the first lesson, in which information regarding the course syllabus and the exam will be provided.
The course bears 6/9 credits. Students wishing to acquire only 6 credits will study Units A and B.
The course syllabus is valid until September 2022.
Prerequisites for admission
The course is addressed to graduate students, and it is held in English. Therefore, a good knowledge of the English language is required in order to be able to understand complex literary and/or critical texts. A general knowledge of the major authors and currents of English literature is taken for granted.
Teaching methods
Teaching methods: lectures with close reading, discussion, textual analysis, and contextualization of the works in the reading list; constant engagement of students in the analytical and critical process of learning; "Students lecturers": the possibility to present to the class a topic/text chosen from the reading list, and/or to be the 'respondent' of someone else's presentation. In the case of online classes, alternative methods such as group work may be resorted to.
Teaching Resources
BIBLIOGRAPHY
All the following texts can be found in an English version:

Unit A
- Raja Rao, Kanthapura (1938)
- R.K. Narayan, The Guide (1958)

Critica bibliography
- Cinzia Pieruccini, Vegetarianismo, Editrice Bibliografica. (May be substituted by Vasudha Narayanan, Hinduism)
- D. Rothermund, Storia dell'India, Il Mulino.
- Sharmita Lahiri "Can a Spirit of Our Own be Expressed in the Language of Our Coloniser?", Asiatic: 7.1, 2013.
- Sohan Pain, "The doctrine of Karma-Samniasa and the Theme of Renunciation in R.K. Narayan's Fiction", on the course website.
- Cleo Kearns, Hinduism, in The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Religion.

Non-attending students will also read:
Clayton Crockett, "What is Postsecularism", American Book Review, Volume 39, Number 5, July/August 2018, pp. 6-14.
Thomas Pantham, Indian Secularism and Its Critics: Some Reflections, The Review of Politics, Summer, 1997, Vol. 59, No. 3.
Graham Huggan, 'Is the "Post" in "Postsecular" the "Post" in "Postcolonial"?', Modern Fiction Studies, 56.4.



Unit B
- Amitav Ghosh, The Glass Palace (2000).
- Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss (2006)
- Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth (2008)

Critical bibliography
- Alessandro Vescovi, "A Man is What He Eats (And What he Doesn't). On the use of traditional food culture in Anita Desai's Fasting, Feasting and Amitav Ghosh's The Glass Palace" Academia.edu
- Alessandro Vescovi, "Jhumpa Lahiri's " Unaccustomed Earth": When the Twain Do Meet" Academia.edu
- Maria Camilla Di Tullio, "Traditional Hindu Elements in Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss", Le Simplegadi, vol. 16 2018.

Unit C
- Zakes Mda, Fools, Bells, and the Habit of Eating. Three Satires, Johannesburg, Witwatersrand University Press, 2004.
- Zakes Mda, The Heart of Redness (2000).
- Zakes Mda, The Whale Caller (2005)

Critical bibliography:
Derek A. Barker, "Escaping the Tyranny of Magic Realism? A Discussion of the Term in Relation to the Novels of Zakes Mda", Postcolonial Text, 4, n. 2, 2008. (Unimi database)
- Vital, Anthony, 2005, "Situating Ecology in Recent South African Fiction: J. M. Coetzee's «The Lives of Animals» and Zakes Mda's «The Heart of Redness»", Journal of Southern African Studies, 31.2: 297-313. (Unimi database)
- Jonathan Steinwand, "What the Whales Would Tell Us. Cetacean Communication in Novels by Witi Ihimaera, Linda Hogan, Zakes Mda, and Amitav Ghosh", in Elizabeth DeLoughrey and George B. Handley (eds), Postcolonial Ecologies. Literatures of the Environment, 2011, pp. 182-199 (Unimi database)

NON-ATTENDING STUDENTS. In addition to the above bibliography (and to any new material uploaded on Ariel/Teams), students are required to read up individually on:
1) the South African history from the 17th century to the present. Suggested references:
- The Cambridge History of South Africa / edited by Carolyn Hamilton, Bernard K. Mbenga, Robert Ross, 2 vols, 2010-11. (Scienze della Storia Library).
- Thompson, Leonard, A History of South Africa. Revised Edition, New Haven and London, Yale U.P., 1995 (3rd edition, 2000). (Scienze Politiche Library).
- South African History Online (SAHO) http://www.sahistory.org.za/
2) literary criticism: particularly useful are the critical essays contained in: The Cambridge History of South African Literature, ed. by D. Attwell and D. Attridge, Cambridge U.P., 2012. (Anglistica Library). This volume can be used to deepen one's knowledge of authors, works, cultural contexts, and literary trends.


Ariel online platform (course website)
All students are expected to check on the Ariel online platform regularly (http://ariel.unimi.it), as new material will be uploaded during the course. The website also contains general information on the course.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Oral exam: It consists in an oral interview assessed in thirtieths; 18/30 is the passing score.
The interview will ascertain: the student's sound knowledge of the historical, cultural and literary background of the investigated geographical and cultural areas; their ability to carry out in-depth textual and critical analyses of the literary works in the reading list, relying on the scholarly studies provided; their capacity to engage in an independent critical assessment of the literary texts and of the cultural issues dealt with in the classes, taking into consideration the theoretical and critical perspectives introduced and discussed during the course.
The final score is expressed in thirtieths; students may accept or reject the mark (in that case the record will be "ritirato", and they will have to retake the whole exam in a future session).
The language of the exam is English.

International or Erasmus incoming students are kindly requested to contact the teacher. Likewise, students with any disabilities are kindly invited to contact the teacher in order to agree on alternative examination methods, in agreement with the competent office.

To take the exam, it is mandatory to bring along all the literary texts listed in this syllabus.
Unita' didattica A
L-LIN/10 - ENGLISH LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Professor: Vescovi Alessandro
Unita' didattica B
L-LIN/10 - ENGLISH LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Professor: Vescovi Alessandro
Unita' didattica C
L-LIN/10 - ENGLISH LITERATURE - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Professor(s)
Reception:
Thursday since 9.00 a.m. Please use the form to reserve a position
Microsoft Teams