English Literature I (2009/2010)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Silvia Bigliazzi
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre dal Feb 22, 2010 al May 31, 2010.

Lesson timetable

II semestre
Day Time Type Place Note
Monday 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM lesson Lecture Hall 2.6  
Tuesday 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM lesson Lecture Hall 2.5  
Wednesday 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM lesson Lecture Hall 2.6  

Learning outcomes

The module aims at offering an overview of nineteenth- and twentieth-century English literature, with particular reference to some of its major works, as well as at presenting the students with the basics of textual and literary genre analysis.


‘Fictions of the self’: constructing modern subjectivity and facing its crisis.

The course concentrates on the construction of modern subjectivity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries through a critical reading and discussion of some of the major works experimenting new narrative, lyrical and dramatic forms. In a plurality of perspectives and voices, they open the way to an awareness of the crisis of identity and the self, leading to their gradual implosion and final silencing in Beckett’s monologues. The works under scrutiny will be situated within the literary period covering the Victorian age and the twentieth century. The module will be set up into lectures (24h = 4CFU) and a seminar (24h = 4CFU) intended to further the discussion of the syllabus and to apply to textual analysis the critical tools presented during the classes. Non-attending students are required to follow the primary text and reference lists recommended to attending students and to complement it with the supplementary reference list.

LANGUAGE: the module will be held in Italian; primary texts will be read in English.


1) Primary Texts

• Robert Browning, Porphyria’s Lover, My Last Duchess da Dramatic Lyrics (1842) (edizione consigliata: Robert Browning, Poems/Poesie, a cura di Angelo Righetti, Milano, Mursia, 1990);
• Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Milano, Mursia, (1978)1985;
• T.S. Eliot, Prufrock and Other Observations (1917), in R. Sanesi (a cura di), Poesie, Milano, Bompiani, 1983; Hamlet (1919), Tradition and the Individual Talent (1921) in Selected Prose of T.S. Eliot, ed. by F. Kermode, London, Faber, 1975, pp. 37-49;
• Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925; any English edition);
• Samuel Beckett, Krapp’s Last Tape (1958), in Id., Krapp's Last Tape and Embers, London, Faber, 1965, pp. 7-20.

2) References

• C. Segre, “Generi”, in ID., Avviamento all’analisi del testo letterario, Torino, Einaudi, 1985, pp. 234-263;
• G. Cianci (a cura di), Modernismo/Modernismi, Milano, Principato, 1991: F. Marenco, “‘And I saw my mistake’: Joseph Conrad e la narrativa di un secolo critico”, pp. 83-98; F. Gozzi, “La rottura dei codici: il linguaggio protagonista”, pp. 290-313;
• A. Serpieri, “La prospettiva fenomenologica nella raccolta di Prufrock”, in Id., Le strutture profonde, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1973, pp. 89-119;
• Maria DiBattista, Virginia Woolf’s Major Novels: The Fables of Anon, Harvard, Yale University Press, 1980, pp. 22-63;
• P. Lawley, “Stages of Identity: from Krapp’s Last Tape to Play”, in The Cambridge Companion to Samuel Beckett, ed. by J. Pilling, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 88-105;

3) Handbooks

Literary History:

As regards the literary and cultural context spanning from the 1830s to the present, students are free to choose between the following handbooks:

• A. Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004
• P. Bertinetti (a cura di), Storia della letteratura inglese, Torino, Einaudi, 2000, vol. II.

To facilitate textual reading, students may refer to any of the following optional handbooks of narratology, rhetoric, stylistics and poetics:

• A. Marchese, L’officina del racconto, Milano, Mondadori, 1983

Rhetoric, stylistics and poetics:
• Bice Mortara Garavelli, Manuale di retorica, Milano, Bompiani, 1999
• Olivier Reboul, Introduzione alla retorica, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1996
• Maria Pia Ellero, Introduzione alla retorica, Firenze, Sansoni Editore, 1997
• A. Marchese, Dizionario di retorica e stilistica, Milano, Mondadori, 2002
• A. Marchese, Il laboratorio della poesia, Milano, Mondadori, 1997

Supplementary references for non-attending students

• Righetti, Angelo, Dittico eliotiano, Verona, Negrar, Edizioni universitarie, Il Segno, 1984;
• J.H. Stape (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996: Cedric Watts, “Heart of Darkness”, pp. 45-62; Jacob Loth, “Conradian Narrative”, pp. 160-178; Andrea White, “Conrad and Imperialism”, pp. 179-202; Kenneth Graham, “Conrad and Modernism”, pp. 203-222; Gene M. Moore, “Conrad’s Influence”, pp. 223-41;
• Alice Van Buren Kelly, The Novels of Virginia Woolf. Fact and Vision, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 1973 pp. 88-113;
• Patrick O’ Donovan, “Beckett’s Monologues: The Context and Conditions of Representation”, The Modern Language Review, Vol. 81, No. 2 (Apr. 1986), pp. 318-326;

Please be advised

Further details on required readings and general information on bibliographical material will be provided during classes.

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam will consist in an oral discussion of the module’s topics in Italian and in English. Students attending the seminar may also take in progress written tests.
Non-attending students will take an oral exam only.

Teaching aids