SCIENZE UMANISTICHEComparative Literature and LanguagesAcademic Year 2022/2023



Expected Learning Outcomes

According to the Dublin descriptors, at the end of the course, students will demonstrate:

1) Knowledge and Understanding

This course intends to present students with the main historical and literary trends of contemporary Britain. The activities that will be carried out on the texts included in the syllabus will also enhance their comprehension skills. 

2) Applying Knowledge and Understanding

A considerable part of the course will be dedicated to close reading activities, which will help students to develop their literary appreciation tools, also to apply their knowledge of contemporary British culture.

 3) Making Judgement

Close reading activities will promote students’ ability to make judgement, also to establish stylistic and thematic relations among the texts included in the syllabus.

 4) Communication Skills

Text analysis activities, as well as exchanges on the chosen texts will enhance students’ communication skills in English.

5) Learning Skills

Students will develop a deeper awareness of their learning skills, which will result in a more mature and autonomous approach to literary texts.    


Course Structure

This 54-hour course will be divided into two modules. Both Module A, Literary Currents and Voices in Contemporary Times (5 ECTS), and Module B, Gender and Genre in Utopian/Dystopian Fiction: Burdekin, Carter and Morris (4 ECTS), will be held in English.

Required Prerequisites

Students are required to have a B2+/C1 level of English and to know English literature from the 18th century to the Victorian period.  

Attendance of Lessons

Though not compulsory, attendance to the course is strongly recommended. 

Detailed Course Content

Module A –  Literary Currents and Voices in Contemporary Times (5 ECTS)

This module will mostly be based on text-analysis activities. Every author and extract will be connected to four distinctive topics. In this way, it will be easier to value their contribution to the development of the main literary genres and trends:

        1.   After Queen Victoria: Social Unrest, Feminism and WWI 

        John Galsworthy, Strife. A Drama in Three Acts (1908)

       Mina Loy, Feminist Manifesto (1914)

       Sigfried Sasson, Glory of Women (1917-1918)

      2.   Modernist Representations of the City  

      Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party (1922)

      Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

         3.   Winds of War: Melancholy and Sorrow

       Stephen Spender, I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great (1933)

       Edith Sitwell, Still Falls the Rain (1942)

       Keith Douglas, Aristocrats (1943-1946)


         4.   After 1945: Depicting a Bleak World   

        William Golding, Lord of the Flies (1954)

        Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (1962)

       Harold Pinter, Betrayal (1978)

      C.A. Duffy, Translating the English (1989)

      Ian McEwan, Black Dogs (1992)

      Sarah Kane, Crave (1998)


Module B – Gender and Genre in Utopian/Dystopian Fiction: Burdekin, Carter and Morris (4 CFU)

This module is based on the relation between gender and genre in  Katharine Burdekin’s, Angela Carter’s and Morris’s utopian/dystopian narratives.

In this case too, all the study materials will be given in electronic form during the course and uploaded on Studium. 

Students will read two of the following works in full:

1.   Katharine Burdekin, Swastika Night (1937)

2.   Angela Carter, Heroes and Villains (1969)

3.   Jan Morris, Last Letters from Hav. A Novel (1985)              

Textbook Information

Module A – Literary Currents and Voices in Contemporary Times (5 ECTS)

1. History of English Literature: Contemporary Times

Recommended Handbook

Sanders Andrew, The Short Oxford History of English Literature, London, O.U.P., 2004, pp. 505-640.


2.   Primary Texts

The above-mentioned extracts and texts will be given in PPT/PDF form and uploaded on Studium.


3.   Methodology and Literary Terms

Cuddon John Anthony, The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, London, Penguin (Latest ed. – The complete list of relevant terms will be available on Studium).


Fowler Roger, A Dictionary of Modern Critical Terms, London, Routledge, (Latest ed. – The complete list of relevant terms will be available on Studium).


Module B – Gender and Genre in Utopian/Dystopian Fiction: Burdekin, Carter and Morris (4 ECTS)

1.   Primary Texts

Students will read George Orwell, 1984 (latest edition) and two of the following works:   

Katharine Burdekin, Swastika Night [Feminist Press, 1985 or Kindle Ed.].

Angela Carter, Heroes and Villains [Penguin Classics 2011].

Jan Morris, Last Letters from Hav. A Novel [Random House, 1985 o edizione 2006].   


2.   Methodology

Claeys Gregory, Dystopia, A Natural History, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 3-18; 447-490.

Lehnen Christine, Defining Dystopia: A Genre Between the Circle and The Hunger Games, Tectum Verlag, pp. 11-19; 25-44. 


3.   Critical Essays 

Adams Tim, “Jan Morris: ‘You’re talking to someone at the very end of things’”, «The Guardian», 1 March 2020

Fenwick Gillian, Traveling Genius: The Writing Life of Jan Morris, Columbia, The University of South Carolina Press, 2008, pp. 1-31; 113-121.

Karpinski Eva, “Signifying Passion: Angela Carter's Heroes and Villains as a Dystopian Romance”, «Utopian Studies», vol. 11, n. 2, 2000, pp. 137-151. JSTOR,

Pagetti Carlo, “In the Year of Our Lord Hitler 720: Katharine Burdekin's Swastika Night”, «Science Fiction Studies», vol. 17, n. 3, 1990, pp. 360–369. JSTOR,


Please remember that in compliance with art 171 L22.04.1941, n. 633 and its amendments, it is illegal to copy entire books or journals, only 15% of their content can be copied.

For further information on sanctions and regulations concerning photocopying please refer to the regulations on copyright (Linee Guida sulla Gestione dei Diritti d’Autore) provided by AIDRO - Associazione Italiana per i Diritti di Riproduzione delle opere dell’ingegno (the Italian Association on Copyright).

All the books listed in the programs can be consulted in the Library.

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1Module A - Literary Currents and Voices in Contemporary TimesOne of the listed handbooks of English Literature (only the 20th-21st centuries) - The texts/extracts listed in the syllabus - The PPT presentations and all the materials which will be uploaded on Studium. 
2Notizie biografiche e approfondimenti Sezioni introduttive ai singoli autori e testi in Oxford Anthology of English Literature e Norton Anthology (ultime edizioni)
3TextsThe texts and extracts which are included in the syllabus will be available on Studium
4Critical terms and methodologyJ.A. Cuddon e R. Fowler (selected sections)
5Module B - Gender and Genre in Utopian/Dystopian Fiction: Burdekin, Carter and Morris The chosen extracts from Katharine Burdekin, Angela Carter and Jan Morris. They will be incorporated in the PPT of the course and uploaded on Studium.
6MethodologyG. Claeys e C. Lehnen (selected parts)

Learning Assessment

Learning Assessment Procedures

Oral test.

Students will be required to read, translate and analyse the texts which are included in the syllabus, also to contextualise them. 

A written test will be given at the end of Module A.     

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

- Read this extract from Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party (1922) and translate it into Italian.

§  What type of sequence is this? Are there any elements of time? What is the setting? Can you describe the language?

-       What are the main features of Modernism in Britain?

-       The outbreak of WW2: What is Dame Sitwell exactly writing about in Still Falls the Rain (1940)?

 Consider C.A. Duffy’s Translating the English 1989 (1989). Can you comment on the   title? Why did she choose it?
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