Contemporary English literature

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
This course explores the various developments of contemporary English literature, starting from a methodological reflection on the area of the discipline. It provides students with cultural and literary knowledge of the period ranging from the second half of the twentieth century to the present and offers reading paths and critical analysis of texts belonging to different literary currents and trends (Postmodernism, Postcolonialism, etc.). In addition, it draws attention to the continuities and discontinuities between past and present literature, to the contamination of literary genres and to the intersections between written works and other media (cinema, television, etc.).
Expected learning outcomes
KNOWLEDGE: By the end of the course, students should be able to discuss the contents of the discipline, contextualise the literary texts included in the programme within the cultural and literary background in which they were produced, and provide 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 the 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

Lesson period
First semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for the academic year 2021-22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
The course schedule will be published on the Ariel website at the beginning of the lessons.
All the materials used during the course will be uploaded to the Ariel website.
Course syllabus
Course title: Rewritings in contemporary English literature
Description: The course explores the intertextual framework of contemporary English literature. Each part starts with a canonical text belonging to the English literary tradition and focuses on its rewritings produced in the twentieth century and beyond, in different historical, geographical and cultural contexts. The postcolonial perspectives are privileged but also popular narrative forms and women's writings are considered. Employing the paradigms of class, gender and ethnicity, the course investigates the issues of national identity and its transformations as well as its relationship with alterity. Part A (New worlds, new meanings) examines the (re)interpretations of the world through exploration; part B (The other side of the story) focuses on female points of view revealing the subaltern position of women and their search for independence; part C (Journeys into darkness) analyses the encounter with the other and its role in the construction of Britishness. Intertextual strategies provide the frame to contemporary literature and the convergence of motifs, structures, patterns.
The course is addressed to graduate students specializing in Foreign Languages and Literatures. Students interested in the 6 credit exam can choose Part A and Part B or Part A and Part C or Part B and Part C; students interested in the 9 credit exam are required to study Part A, B and C.
The syllabus is valid until February 2023.
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 good knowledge of English literature from the XIX century onwards as well as a proven ability to analyze 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 and in the website forum.
Teaching Resources
General bibliography:
Graham Allen, Intertextuality (a selection of chapters)
A Concise Companion to Contemporary British Fiction, edited by James F. English (a selection of chapters)
The Cambridge Companion to British Fiction 1980-2018, edited by Peter Boxall (a selection of chapters).
Part A: New worlds, new meanings
Literary texts and films:
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (background reading)
William Golding, Lord of the Flies
Robert Zemeckis, Cast Away
Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey
J.M. Coetzee, Foe.
Part B: The other side of the story
Literary texts and films:
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (background reading)
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Fay Weldon, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil.
Part C: Journeys into darkness
Literary texts and films:
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (background reading)
Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now
V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River
Abdulrazak Gurnah, Paradise
Petina Gappah, Out of Darkness, Shining Light.
The website of the course is online on the Ariel platform ( students will be able to download lessons and other materials. For each part, critical essays on general questions or on specific texts will be available. The website also contains general information on the course and is continuously updated.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of an oral interview. The minimum score is 18, the maximum is 30. The oral exam (in English) will entail general questions on the English novel and will also include methodological questions on the frame of contemporary literature, the literary representation of national identity, the issues concerning the literary canon 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".
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)