Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

LITR 202 European Novel

Fall 2016


FALL 2016


Dr. Barbara Castaldo                                                                       

Mon & Wed 3:40-4:55 p.m.

Office Hours: by appointment, room 115                                                                                      

E-mail: bcastaldo@luc.edu


Course Description

This course focuses on the Italian novel in the 20th century. We will look at important social changes and key moments in European/Italian history, to examine how they were represented in contemporary Italian literature and culture. Through the reading of four major Italian novels by Sibilla Aleramo, Primo Levi, Carlo Levi and Leonardo Sciascia, students will get involved in a variety of cultural and historical issues: women’s condition and early feminism, World War II and the holocaust, the Italian Neorealism, the “southern question” and the problem of Sicilian mafia. By discussing different narrative strategies (such as autobiography, fiction and non-fiction writing, direct and indirect narration), students will also learn to identify different literary techniques and genres.


Learning Outcomes

a. Knowledge of key authors and major literary works of Italian contemporary literature.

b. Knowledge of core themes and ideas in European and Italian history and culture.

c. Understanding of the cultural relation of literature to society, reading literary texts within their historical, social and cultural context.

c. Development of textual analysis skills through use of concepts of literary criticism.

d. Practice of critical thinking through class discussions and by establishing comparisons among different issues, periods, authors and works of art.

e. Development of advanced writing skills through the composition of written assignments.

Required Textbooks (Primary Readings)

Aleramo, Sibilla. A Woman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. Print.

Levi, Carlo, Christ Stopped at Eboli. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print.

Levi, Primo. If This Is a ManThe Truce. London: Abacus, 1987. Print.

Sciascia, Leonardo. The Day of the Owl. New York: New York Review Books, 2003. Print.


Secondary readings (short articles and excerpts from the following texts) will appear in the Course Reader (CR). Additional readings may be posted on Sakai.

Alighieri, Dante. Inferno. Trans. Allen Mandelbaum. New York: Bantam, 1982. The World of

Dante. Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities and University of Virginia, n.d. Web. 8 Mar 2016.

Calvino, Italo. “Preface.” The Path to the Spiders’ Nests. London: Penguin, 2009. Print.

Campana, Dino. “In un momento.” My translation. Inediti. Firenze: Vallecchi, 1942. Print.

Clark, Martin. Modern Italy 1871-1995. London-New York: Longman, 1984. Print.

Mack Smith, Denis. Modern Italy. A Political History. New Haven-London: Yale University Press,

1997. Print.

Nietzsche, Friedrich W. Beyond Good and Evil. Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Edinburgh:

N.T. Foulis, 1909-1913. Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg Ebook, 4 Feb 2013. Web. 8

Mar 2016.

Schneider, Jane (ed.). Italy’s Southern Question: Orientalism in One Country. Oxford-New York:

Berg, 1998. Print.

Women’s Realities,Women’s Choices. An Introduction to Women’s Studies by Hunter College

Women’s Studies Collective. New York-Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.


In-Class Screenings

A Journey Called Love (Un viaggio chiamato amore). Dir. Michele Placido. 2003.

The Truce. Dir. Francesco Rosi. 1997.

Bycicle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette). Dir. Vittorio De Sica. 1948.

Christ Stopped at Eboli (Cristo si è fermato a Eboli). Dir. Francesco Rosi, 1979.

Mafia (Il giorno della civetta). Dir. Damiano Damiani, 1968.

Required work

Students must comply with the following requirements:

Attendance: More than 2 unexcused absences will affect the final grade. Tardiness to class

will also affect the final grade.

Participation: Students are expected to come to class prepared on the assigned readings, to take notes, and to participate actively in class discussions through the Reader Responses. Students are also required to bring their textbooks to each class. Please, note that this course is highly demanding in terms of class participation.

Reader Responses: Each week I will post on Sakai a handout with a list of topics/questions that we will discuss in class. In order to enhance both your reading and class discussion, you should weekly write down your responses to these questions: choose one or two questions that interest you and address it in a short essay. Include a quotation or two as evidence in support of your reader’s response. These informal meditations are a chance for you to consider the readings before coming to class. As the semester progresses, your responses should become more analytical and offer connections between the novels, the authors, and the literary theories/social issues. Your Responses could also prove useful in light of your final paper. Please, note that I will occasionally collect your Reader Responses.

Textbooks (TB) and Course Readers: Electronic copies of books are not accepted. The kind of reading we will practice requires marking up a material text. Students are required to bring their textbooks and Course Readers to each class.

Sakai: This course will be using Sakai. Students are required to check the course site on a regular basis for communication, readings, and assignments posted there.

Quizzes: There will be 5 in-class quizzes on the material covered. The 5 quizzes will be taken as scheduled: there will be no make-ups. Quizzes may be made up only in the event of serious illness, and provided a doctor’s letter is presented.

Final paper (10 pages): The topic for this paper you must develop on your own but in conjunction with professor. You may either discuss your topic directly with me or write a short paragraph that outlines your discussion and send me the topic. See the Handout “Requirements for the Final Paper” for detailed instructions and suggestions on choosing a good topic.

Required Work and Grading Assessment

Quizzes (5)                                                                            50% (or each quiz 10%)

Final paper                                                                            30%

Attendance                                                                           10%

Participation and Reader Responses                                     10%


Schedule of Meetings and Readings: TBA