English literature I (LS) (2007/2008)

Course not running

Course code
Name of lecturer
Silvia Bigliazzi
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre dal Feb 18, 2008 al May 31, 2008.

Lesson timetable

II semestre
Day Time Type Place Note
Thursday 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM lesson Lecture Hall S.11  

Learning outcomes

Truth and representation: multiperspectivism and subjectivity in English Renaissance literature.

Aim of the course: The course aims at developing the students’ competence in English Renaissance culture and literature through a specific inquiry into theatrical, lyrical and, especially, linguistic forms of cultural conflicts. To this end, and in order to improve the students’ critical and meta-linguistic expertise, discussion of topics in English is required.


The notion of reality and its representation in late 16th and early 17th century England gradually changes into a modern relativistic one, focusing on the role of the subject in perceiving both the world and the self, and, accordingly, on his/her passions. On the other hand, a new way of conceiving the real, affected by the current scientific and geographic discoveries, modifies the `world picture’ and unveils a new (dis-)order, which causes the artists to respond with both amazement and bewilderment. This cultural change is widely testified to by Elizabethan dramaturgy. Shakespeare especially subtly develops the (counter-)discourse of a newly emergent subjectivity. And he does so through a rich rhetoric of inelocutio centring on elaborate forms of indirections that give shape to linguistic paradigms of subjective relativism – anamorphism included. One of these paradigms will be analysed during the course. It concerns the notion of `the nothing’ as a subversive concept emerging against a backdrop of socio-cultural definitions of non-being conceived of as ontological nothingness. Both semiological and ontological problems are evidently involved in the linguistic and discursive clash between a dominant and a marginalized, eccentric, yet gradually establishing itself, world-view. Other examples of this paradigm will be taken from John Donne’s poetry, while a theoretical background concerning Renaissance conventional modes of representation will be summarily sketched.


1) Texts:

• W. Shakespeare, Riccardo II, a cura di A. Cozza, Milano, Garzanti, 1995 (parallel text; students are free to choose an alternative English edition);
• W. Shakespeare, Othello, ed. by E.A.J. Honigmann, London, Arden, 2004;
• W. Shakespeare, Macbeth, a cura di Alessandro Serpieri, Firenze, Giunti, 1996 or 2004;
• W. Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, ed. by Stephen Orgel, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1996;
• John Donne, Poesie, a cura di A. Serpieri e S. Bigliazzi, Milano, BUR 2007;
• During classes students will be provided with integrative handouts.

2) References:

• S. Bigliazzi, Nel prisma del nulla. L’esperienza del non-essere nella drammaturgia shakespeariana, Napoli, Liguori, 2005, pp. 1-88 (introduzione e capp. 1-4);
• L. Innocenti, “Iconoclasm and iconicity in seventeenth-century English poetry”, in The motivated sign, ed. by O. Fischer and Max Nänny, Amsterdam /Philadelphia, John Benjamins, 2001, pp. 211-17;
• Jurgis Baltrušaitis, Anamorfosi, Milano, Adelphi, [1978] 20043, pp. 17-49.

Assessment methods and criteria

oral exam