Germanic philology

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims at introducing the historical-comparative study of the old Germanic languages and of the cultural and textual production of the Germanic peoples. It pays particular attention to the phonological development from Indo-European to Proto-Germanic and to the medieval Germanic languages through the reading of their written sources.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding: knowledge of the fundamental questions about the linguistic, textual and historical-cultural shaping of the medieval Germanic world, analyzed from a comparative perspective; knowledge of the linguistic phenomena which led to the birth and development of the old Germanic languages, particularly from the phonological and morphological viewpoint. Applying knowledge and understanding: ability to read, translate, and analyze texts written in the principal Old Germanic languages from the grammatical and semantic point of view and within their historical and cultural background.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
During the emergency phase, the programme is maintained with following changes:
Teaching methods:
Synchronous and asynchronous lessons will be held in Microsoft Teams. Asynchronous lectures will be uploaded in Teams. The purpose of synchronous lessons is to foster professor-students interaction in order to deepen and discuss the topics dealt in the asynchronous lectures.
Learning verification procedures:
The exam takes place in Teams (videoconferencing), according to the indications provided by the University.
All details will be published in Ariel.
Course syllabus
The course is called "Old English literary tradition" and consists of the following three didactic units, which will be addressed in sequence:
A: Introduction to Germanic culture;
B: Historical-comparative linguistics of the ancient Germanic languages;
C: Anglo-Saxon language and literature in its historical and cultural context.

For the students of the Course of Studies C23 the course provides 9 ECTS. It is not possible to acquire only 6 ECTS. Students of the master programme or of other Courses who intend to acquire 6/9 ECTS have to agree the programme with the professor.

Unit A will study the history of the Germanic peoples through historiographic and archaeological sources; furthermore paganism, Christianization and the consequent spread of book culture in central-northern Europe, from the late ancient period to the end of Middle Ages. Unit B will deal with the phonological phenomena that led to the birth and differentiation of the Germanic languages; the oldest stage will be analyzed both from a phonological and morphological point of view. In Unit C we will analyze passages from the main Old English literary works: of these will be deepened the context of writing and transmission, the dialectal differences and the lexical peculiarities (semantics, etymology, phonological comparison with the equivalent words in the other ancient Germanic languages).

The course programme is valid until February 2022. Starting from the Summer session 2022 it will be possible to apply for the exam exclusively on the programme of the academic year 2021-22.
Prerequisites for admission
The course, which is held entirely in Italian, the materials and the bibliography of the examination require good technical and linguistic skills; to take the exam of German Philology is therefore necessary to have already taken and passed the exam of Glottology.
Teaching methods
The course adopts the following teaching methods: frontal lessons; reading and linguistic-philological commentary of passages from the texts in the programme.
Teaching Resources
The course has a website on the online teaching platform Ariel (, to which reference should be made for lesson notes and other materials provided by the professor.
The following are the mandatory readings for the three teaching units:
Unit A:
- Booklet "Inquadramento storico-culturale" (available in Ariel);
- Tacito, "La Germania" (an edition of your choice in Italian translation);
- Raymond Ian Page, "Miti scandinavi", Mondadori 1995 (the whole book; no longer on the market, available in libraries), or Gianna Chiesa Isnardi, "I miti nordici", Longanesi 1997 (at least two chapters of your choice for a total of about one hundred pages).
Unit B:
- Booklet "Linguistica storico-comparativa" (available in Ariel);
- Old English morphology sheets (available in Ariel).
Unit C:
- Lesson notes;
- Anthology of the texts (available in Ariel).
Examination programme for non-attending students:
The programme for non-attending students is identical to the programme for attending students.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam is held in Italian; it consists of an individual interview, which includes questions posed by the professor and interactions between professor and student, and duration varies depending on the didactic units prepared: the interview begins with questions on Unit A and continues with the discussion on Unit C, during which the student must be able to analyze the texts in the programme both from the historical-cultural point of view, and phonological, applying the linguistic phenomena studied in Unit B, with particular attention to the terms commented during the course.
During the exam will be tested:
- level of knowledge and understanding of the topics of Units A and C;
- level of autonomy in recognizing and analyzing the linguistic phenomena studied in units B and C;
- adequacy of language in expressing and applying the knowledge and competences acquired in the three units.
The final grade is expressed in 30ths, and the student has the right to refuse it (in which case it will be recorded as "withdrawn").
International students or incoming Erasmus students are invited to contact the teacher as soon as possible. The examination procedures for students with disabilities and/or with DSA must be agreed with the teacher, in agreement with the competent office.
Unita' didattica A
L-FIL-LET/15 - GERMANIC PHILOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
L-FIL-LET/15 - GERMANIC PHILOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
L-FIL-LET/15 - GERMANIC PHILOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Thursdays, h. 14 and on appointment in Teams
S. Alessandro, outside room A1 in the courtyard