English literature 2 LM. Critical methodologies and textual interpretation (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Silvia Bigliazzi
Silvia Bigliazzi
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
I semestre (Lingue e letterature straniere) dal Sep 28, 2020 al Jan 9, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

This course is held in English and aims at providing Students with advanced notions of English Literature especially in relation to different critical methodologies and interpretations of the literary text. 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 and expressive mastery; - critically comment on the texts so as to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the theoretical debate surrounding them, - develop critical and autonomous thinking by personally elaborating on debated issues.


“Critical Approaches to Sources, Receptions, and Adaptations: Politics and Passion in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra”

The module will examine the notion of ‘source’ against the backdrop of reception and adaptation theories within the broader critical debate on textual and cultural studies. The discussion will develop around two exemplary case studies: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, with a focus on politics and passion in relation to Shakespeare’s historical sources (from Plutarch to Appian) and to different forms of reception, adaptation and imitation of those two plays. Examples will include a modern adaptation of Julius Caesar for the Italian stage in the 1930s, and John Dryden’s own version of the story of Antony and Cleopatra, All for Love: or the World Well Lost, “Written in Imitation of Shakespeare’s Style”.


The module will be held in English. Attending students will take one self-assessment test at the end of the module. A written calendar of the topics that will be dealt with will be circulated in class at the beginning of the course.
Further teaching material, including a selection of the texts that will be discussed in class, will be available for download from the MOODLE repository. This material is part of the syllabus.

Attending and non-attending students alike are required to do all the readings indicated below:

Primary Texts:
• William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, ed. by David Daniell, London, Bloomsbury, The Arden Shakespeare Third Series, (1998) 2014.
• Silvia Bigliazzi, Julius Caesar 1935: Shakespeare and Censorship in Fascist Italy, Skenè, 2019 (https://textsandstudies.skeneproject.it/index.php/TS/catalog/book/68)
• William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, ed. by John Wilders, London, Bloomsbury, The Arden Shakespeare Third Series, 1995.
• John Dryden, All for Love, ed. by N.J. Andrew, London, Bloomsbury, 2004.

Secondary Texts
• Robert S. Miola, “Julius Caesar and the Tyrannicide Debate”, Renaissance Quarterly, 38: 2, 1985, pp. 271-89.
• David Schalkwyk, Shakespeare, Love and Language, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp. 220-40.
• Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory. A Very Short Introduction, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006.
• Walter, Melissa and Sarah Klann, “Shakespeare Source Study in the Early Twenty‐First Century: A Resurrection?”, Literature Compass 2018, 15: e12486 (DOI: 10.1111/lic3.12486
• Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Adaptation, New York and London, Routledge, 2006.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
John Dryden All for Love, ed. by N.J. Andrew Bloomsbury 2004
Willian Shakespeare Antony and Cleopatra, ed. by John Wilders Bloomsbury 1995
Linda Hutcheon A Theory of Adaptation Routledge 2006
Silvia Bigliazzi Julius Caesar 1935: Shakespeare and Censorship in Fascist Italy Skenè 2018 https://textsandstudies.skeneproject.it/index.php/TS/catalog/book/68
Robert S. Miola "Julius Caesar and the Tyrannicide Debate" Renaissance Quarterly 38: 2, pp. 271-289 1985
William Shakespeare Julius Caesar, ed. by David Daniell Bloomsbury 2014
Jonathan Culler Literary Theory. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press 2006
David Schalkwyk Shakespeare, Love and Language Cambridge University Press 2018 pp. 210-240
Melissa Walter and Sarah Klann "Shakespeare Source Study in Early Twenty-First Century: A Resurrection" Literature Compass, 15 (e12486; DOI: 10.1111(lic3.12486) 2018

Assessment methods and criteria

Knowledge acquisition will be evaluated through an oral exam, which will consist in a discussion of the topics dealt with during the module. The oral exam will be held in English.

Alternatively, students may submit an essay in English of approximately 5,000 words at least a week before the exam. The essay will then be presented and discussed orally. For essay-writing guidelines please refer to the material present in Moodle as well as to the following text: Richard Marggraf Turley, Writing Essays, London and New York, Routledge, 2016 (2nd edition). Before submitting their essays, students are required to discuss their project with the teacher.

The acquired abilities will be evaluated in terms of:
1) ability to use the critical approaches discussed during module;
2) autonomous critical capacity;
3) presentation and argumentative skills in academic discussion.

The exam is the same for attending and non-attending students alike.

The exam will be held in class. It will be done remotely for all students who will require it.