English literature 1 LM. Forms, genres, and critical approaches (2018/2019)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Susanna Zinato
Susanna Zinato
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
I semestre dal Oct 1, 2018 al Jan 12, 2019.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course is held in English and aims at providing students with advanced notions of English Literature, especially in relation to forms, genres and critical approaches. It also aims to develop an autonomous and original critical approach to literary texts. On successful completion of the course, students will be able to: - read and interpret literary texts by structuring ideas and concepts with argumentative skill; - critically comment on the texts in such a way as to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the theoretical debate surrounding them; develop critical and autonomous thinking by personally elaborating on debated issues.


The module aims at taking the students to develop rhetorical competence and analytic skill in the study of the form of the English or Shakespearean sonnet, of the ways it bears on the content level, and of how it derives meaning from its relation/confrontation with its genre tradition.
After tracing its origin back at the Tudor court, with its distinctive appropriation of the Italian or Petrarchan tradition through Wyatt's and Surrey's experiments, and its consolidation through the Elizabethan Sidney and Surrey, the module will come to deal with its 'proper core', Shakespeare's sonnets. Guided study of the set sonnets will enable the students to comment in detail on their formal and thematic aspects, with awareness of their genre and context implications, as well as with awareness of the main critical approches proposed for this masterpiece of Western literary history.

BIBLIOGRAPHY (all the listed texts may be consulted at Frinzi Library)

- Sample Sonnets by Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney and Spenser will be provided during classes.
-W. Shakespeare, "The Sonnets", in "Shakespeare's Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint", ed. by John Kerrigan, Penguin, 1999:
sonets 12, 18, 19, 20, 21, 64, 75, 86, 116, 121, 129, 130, 138

- Introduction by John Kerrigan to the volume above.
- J. SCHIFFER (ed.), Shakespeare's Sonnets: Critical Essays, Routledge, 2013 (1 essay )
- "The Sonnets as Theatre", in "Shakespeare's Sonnets", ed. by P. Edmondson and S. Wells, 2004 (Frinzi)
-W.R. ELTON, "Shakespeare and the Thought of His Age", in The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare Studies, ed. by S. Wells, 1986

- From W. Shakepeare, "I sonetti", testo inglese a fronte, a cura di Alessandro Serpieri, BUR : Introduzione, traduzione e note di commento relative ai sonetti in programma
- From P. Edmondson and S. Wells, "Shakespeare's Sonnets", 2004:
"The History and Emergency of the Sonnet as a Literary Form"
"The Form of Shakespeare's Sonnets"
"The Artistry of Shakespeare's Sonnets"
- For the translation into Italian, the BUR edition of Shakespeare's Sonetti/Sonnets edited by Alessandro Serpieri may be usefully consulted

As a general referece text on the sonnet, the following may be usefully consulted:
-J. FULLER, The Sonnet, Methuen (1972)

The module will be taught through lectures (18 x 2 hours) that will leave space for seminar-like time for discussion.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Shakespeare, William I sonetti, Testo inglese a fronte, a cura di Alessandro Serpieri BUR 1995 Testo facente parte della bibliografia critica obbligatoria per i non-frequentanti
Elton W.R. "Shakespeare and the Thought of His Age", in The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare Studies, ed. S. Wells Cambridge UP 1986 Teso facente parte deblla bilbiografia critica.
Shakespeare, William Shakespeare's Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint, ed. by John Kerrigan Penguin 1999 Testo primario.
Schiffer, James (ed.) Shakespeare's Sonnets: Critical Essays Routledge 2013 Testo facente parte della bibliografia critica.
Fuller, J. The Sonnet Methuen 1972 Testo di riferimento sul genere del sonetto, facoltativo.
Edmondson Paul and Wells Stanley "The Sonnets as Theatre" in Shakespeare's Sonnets Oxford UP 2004 Testo facente parte della bilbiografia critica
Calimani, Dario William Shakespeare: i sonetti della menzogna. Carocci 2009 Suggerimento di lettura critica, facoltativa.

Assessment methods and criteria


This module will be assessed by an oral examination in English and will be meant to evaluate the student's analytic and argumentative skills, his knowledge of the form and genre of the set texts, also in relation to their historic-cultural context, as well as his awareness of the possible critical approaches to them as they have been discussed in class.

The student will take to the exam a copy of the programme and his own primary text.