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Durham University

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: Italian Studies

Introduction to Italian Literary Culture and Theory

Academic Year 2020-21

This module, which is taught and assessed in English, is open to students taking Italian Language 1A or 1B. It offers an introduction to the study of Italian culture, from the Middle Ages to the present, through the techniques of literary and cultural analysis. Throughout the module Italian culture is seen in global perspective and students are invited to think transnationally about the literary and cultural phenomena that they examine. The module will introduce First-Year students to some of the most important texts within global Italian culture and areas covered will include the analysis of traditional forms of literature (narrative prose, lyric poetry and theatre) with reference to other forms of cultural expression such as painting, photography and film. The works studied range from the masterpieces of the medieval (Dante and Boccaccio) and early modern tradition to 20th and 21st-century literary and cultural production. By the end of the module students will have received a firm grounding in transnational Italian literature and culture from the Middle Ages to the contemporary period and will be able to engage critically with a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to analysis. This module has been designed to reflect a commitment to diversity in its resources and delivery, and will create opportunities for students to engage in critical analysis of different perspectives relevant to the study area.

Recommended Introductory Reading

  • P. Hainsworth - D. Robey, Italian Literature: A Very Short Introduction; Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012
  • Peter Brand and Lino Pertile. The Cambridge History of Italian Literature, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996 – 2nd edition (available online to Durham University students through


Prof Charles Burdett, Room A27, Elvet Riverside I

Further details of pre-requisites, co-requisites, aims, contact hours and assessment.