Philology and Germanic literatures

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to perfect the knowledge of ancient Germanic languages and literatures by investigating their historical and cultural context of origin and the dynamics of their diffusion, as well as their manuscript tradition, with the help of the most advanced tools of historical linguistics and textual criticism. The course also aims to encourage reflection on the concept of critical edition, popular edition and rewriting, and on the responsibilities of the philologist in making such texts available to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding: Knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of production, circulation and reception of texts written in the main ancient Germanic languages (Gothic, Nordic, Anglo-Saxon, Continental Saxon and High German areas) in their historical and cultural context; knowledge and understanding of the most up-to-date methodologies of historical linguistics and ecdotics.
Applying knowledge and understanding: The ability to reconstruct the dating, provenance and circulation of written evidence in various ancient Germanic languages on the basis of textual, linguistic and palaeographic-codicological data. Ability to read and translate texts from manuscript, and analyse them phonologically, morpho-syntactically and lexically, in order to carry out digital transcription and contribute to their dissemination. The ability to deal with ecdotical problems of certain texts from the various ancient Germanic areas in order to independently assess the possibilities of edition.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the publich health situation.
Course syllabus
The course is called "The manuscript tradition of the Physiologus" and consists of the following three parts, which will be addressed in sequence:
A: Principles and methods of textual criticism;
B: The tradition of medieval bestiaries and analysis of the Old High German, Anglosaxon and Old Norse Physiologus.
C: In-depth study of the ecdotical and grammatical aspects of the three versions of the bestiary.
The course provides 6/9 cfu. Students interested in acquiring 6 cfu will follow the programme of Parts A and B; students interested in acquiring 9 cfu will follow the full programme (Parts A, B, C).
In Part A students will study the principles and methods of textual criticism - from Lachmann to New Philology - on the basis of the two textbooks in the programme. Students will also be introduced to palaeography and codicology in order to approach the text from the manuscript. In Part B the tradition of medieval bestiaries will be addressed, also in the wider classical and European context, and passages from the three Germanic versions of the Physiologus will be analysed. In Part C the methodologies and the ecdotical tools learnt in Part A will be applied and the analysis of the texts of Part B will be deepened, in order to prepare a presentation of the three Germanic traditions of the Physiologus, from the manuscript to its editions and translations, to be made available on the internet. Students will then be asked to carry out individual and/or group work, agreeing with the teacher on the in-depth study of an aspect of the version of the Physiologus belonging to the linguistic area of specialization.
The course programme is valid until September 2023.
Prerequisites for admission
The course, which is held entirely in Italian, the materials and the bibliography of the examination presuppose good knowledge of Germanism and sound skills in comparative-historical linguistics of the ancient Germanic languages; to take the exam of Philology and Germanic literatures is therefore necessary to have already taken and passed, in the bachelor or master programme, an exam of Germanic Philology.
Teaching methods
The course adopts the following teaching methods: frontal lessons; reading and ecdotic-linguistic commentary on passages from the works on the programme; individual and group work.
Teaching Resources
The course has a website on the online teaching platform Ariel, to which reference should be made for information on the course and useful materials for exam preparation. Below are the readings that will be discussed during the course:
Part A: Anna Maria Luiselli Fadda, "Tradizioni manoscritte e critica del testo nel Medioevo germanico", ed. Laterza, XII ristampa 2021 (to be studied in full); Philipp Roelli (ed.), "Handbook of Stemmatology. History, Methodology, Digital Approaches", ed. De Gruyter 2020 (available open access from (only the chapters analysed in class).
Part B: the editions of the three versions of Physiologus: Verner Dahlerup, "Physiologus I to Islandske Bearbejdelser", in: "Aarbøger for nordisk oldkyndighed og historie", 1888-1889, pp. 199-290 (available online from; "The Old English Physiologus". Text and prose translation by Albert Stanburrough Cook; verse translation by James Hall Pitman, Yale University Press 1921 (available online from; "Der altdeutsche Physiologus", hrsg. von Friedrich Maurer, ed. De Gruyter 1967 (available in libraries).
Reference grammars (available in libraries): E.V. Gordon, A.R. Taylor, "An Introduction to Old Norse", Oxford 1981; A. Campbell, "Old English Grammar", Oxford 1992; W. Braune, F. Heidermanns, "Althochdeutsche Grammatik", De Gruyter 2018.
Part C: Students of Scandinavian languages: one chapter to be agreed upon from Judy Quinn, Adele Cipolla (edd.), "Studies in the Transmission and Reception of Old Norse Literature. The Hyperborean Muse in European Culture", Brepols 2016 (download available up to 100 pages from Brepols' website through our Minerva opac). Students of English language: on chapter to be agreed upon from K. O'Brien O'Keeffe (ed.), "Reading Old English Texts", Cambridge 1997 (available in libraries). Students of German language: one chapter to be agreed upon from Thomas Bein, "Textkritik. Eine Einführung in Grundlagen germanistisch-mediävistischer Editionswissenschaft", ed. Peter Lang 2011 (available in libraries).
Examination programme for non-attending students:
The programme for non-attending students is identical to the programme for attending students. Non-attending students should contact the teacher as soon as possible, especially for advice on how to approach textual analysis on their own.
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, about the contents of Parts A and B. Students acquiring 9 cfu will have the opportunity to report and comment on the insights gained in Part C.
During the exam will be tested:
- the level of knowledge and understanding of the topics of Parts A and B;
- the level of autonomy in the ecdotic and linguistic analysis of the texts in Part B;
- the adequacy of language in expressing and applying the knowledge and skills acquired;
- the level of autonomy and the ability to deepen and apply ecdotical methods in the agreed work of Part C.
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