Textual and comparative studies (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Daniela Spina
Daniela Spina
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre (Lingue e letterature straniere) dal Feb 15, 2021 al May 29, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of the class “Textual and com-parative studies” LM37 lead students to acquire a deep knowledge of the historical, cultural, and literary context in comparison and contrast related to the subject imparted; they aim to give useful information to comment, contextualize text belonging to different literary genre, as well as to develop advanced analysis skills. They also aim at shaping students’ comparative skills, in terms of methodology, regarding mostly the interpretation of text, critical analysis, and the hermeneutic circle. The class is designed to focus on a systematic comparison rooted in its originally of both being monumentum and documentum. At the end of the course, the student must demonstrate that s/he has gained highly specialized knowledge, regarding the ability of understanding (knowledge and understanding); to have totally acquired a mastery of the research method associated with the specific field of investigation; finally, having the ability to integrate knowledge and manage complexity with a high degree of autonomy in broader (or interdisciplinary) contexts (communication skills).


“The Indian Ocean as a comparative category”

The course in Textual and Comparative Studies affords the oportunity to review texts from many Indian Ocean literary cultures through the practice of close reading. From ancient Greece to postcolonial literature, the Indian Ocean, as a fluid and hybrid space, is a privileged literary place for the representation of the lives of its inhabitants, migrants and travellers. Over the past twenty years, we have witnessed a growing academic interest in this boundless area of the world, taken as a literary, geo-political and historical space. A number of comparative works have choosen the Indian Ocean as a key category, for the interpretation of a series of texts belonging to diverse literary traditions. Given the vastness of the literary world narrated by the Indian Ocean, as well as the risks and pitfalls of comparing geographically distant literary works, the close reading methodology will guide us in the textual and critical analysis of novels, short-stories and poems published by authors from Madagascar, Mozambique, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and India.

Teaching methods:
The course consists of lectures (60%) and seminar lessons (40%). The lectures will introduce students to theoretical and methodological texts. During the seminar lessons, students will be required to put into practice the method of close reading on literary texts. Furthermore, students are invited to make reading proposals according to their scientific interests or literary tastes and to privilege, whenever possible, the reading of the texts in their original language. Regarding bibliographic sources that are not accessible at the university libraries, the teacher will make them available to students in digital format. In the presence of a non-Italian-speaking audience, the course will be delivered in English.

Assessment methods and criteria

The final work is a critical essay (about 6000 words, including bibliography and notes) in which students must put into practice the theoretical and methodological tools learned during the course. Students will be asked to compare two or more literary texts of their choice from the bibliographic list or others which are relevant to their linguistic training interests. Alternatively, students can opt for the writing of a theoretical essay. The work will be discussed in an oral exam, where students must defend their positions and relate their statements to the topics discussed during the course. The essay must be delivered up to two weeks before the exam date and written in Italian or English. Non-attending students will be asked for extra readings (contact the teacher).

Theoretical texts

Shanti Moorthy. Ashraf Jamal (org.) (2010). Indian Ocean Studies: cultural, social and political perspectives. New York e Londra: Routledge, pp. 1-31.
Isabel Hofmeyr (2012). “The complicating sea: the Indian Ocean as method.” In Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, vol. 32, n. 3, pp. 584-90.
Isabel Hofmeyr (2007). “The Black Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean: forging new paradigms of transnationalism for the Global South – literary and cultural perspectives”. In Social Dynamics: a journal of African Studies, vol. 33, nº 2, pp. 3-32.
Anupama Mohan (2019). “Introduction. The contours of a field: literatures of the Indian Ocean”. In Postcolonial Text, vol. 14, n. 3 e 4, pp. 1-12.
Moradewun Adejunmobi (2009). “Claiming the field: Africa and the space of Indian Ocean literature”. In Callaloo, vol. 32, n. 4, pp. 1247-1261.
Marina Carter e Khal Torabully (2002). Coolitude: an anthology of the Indian labour diaspora. Londra: Anthem Press, pp. 1-16, 143-159.
César Dominguez. Haun Saussy. Darío Villanueva (org.) (2015). Introducing Comparative Literature: new trends and applications. Oxford & New York: Routledge (individual further reading).

Literary texts
Léopold Sédar Senghor (2019). Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache de langue française. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
João Paulo Borges Coelho (2017). Indizi indiani. Perugia: Urogallo. Alternatively, students can read the short-stories in Portuguese (Índicos indícios: estórias. Lisboa: Editorial Caminho. 2005-2006).
Khal Torabully (2015). En cantos coolies. Granada: Valparaíso (source text in French with facing translation in Spanish).
Romesh Gunesekera (1996). Reef. New York: Riverhead.
Amitav Ghosh (2015). Diluvio di fuoco. Vicenza: Neri Pozza Editore. Alternatively, students can read the novel in English (Flood of fire. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2015).