Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

LITR 260 / INTS 260 Studies in italian authors

Spring 2012

  • Literature 260 - Masterpieces of Italian Literature

    Prof Grazia Sotis


    Description of course/ Literary Knowledge and Experience

    This class will consist of readings and discussions of major literary works, from the Renaissance, the theater to modern novel. Our overall aim is to study how literary texts interpret human conflict, with necessary attention to the formal, stylistic and rhetorical modalities. These texts are couched in a historical and cultural context that we can study also through visual aids as well, with the idea of understanding what is transhistorical about them and what makes them masterpieces.  Literary masterpieces help us develop a critical consciousness of our experience personal, social, cultural, historical, as well as aesthetic.


    Knowledge Objectives: 

     ·         Learning outcome: demonstrate knowledge of literary traditions and expressions.

    ·         Study influential Italian works, theater and novels as representative forms of literary production in which Italians explore their historical and societal experience, their human experience and reflect on the process of literary creation.

    ·         Acquire the critical and technical vocabulary enabling them to describe and analyze, and formulate an argument about Italian literary works and about literary types (e.g. short stories, plays, novels).

    ·         Assess how formal qualities of Italian literary works determine the nature of the experience offered and affect the response of the audience.

    ·         Examine multiple interpretive possibilities of Italian novels, short stories, plays, and know that such interpretations both reflect the culture that produced them and change over time.  Emphasis will be on change over time in discussing representative literary works of different eras.


    Skill Objectives, Critical Thinking Skills:

     ·         Students will develop, through oral and written communication, reading and analytical skills appropriate to the study of literature.

    ·         Students will practice writing clear, concise, effective prose.

    ·         Students will develop an understanding of the ethical implications in literature, of the depiction of self and others.

    ·         Students will comprehend, paraphrase, summarize, and contextualize the meaning of Italian novels and plays.




    Mandragola  by Niccolò Macchiavelli

    Three Plays by Carlo Goldoni: The Venetian Twins, The Artful Widow, The Innkeeper

    The House by the Medlar Tree  by Giovanni Verga

    Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello

    Maria Zef  by Paola Drigo

    Dolcissimo  by Giuseppe Bonaviri




    Exams and two papers will be used to assess literary knowledge and critical thinking.  They will assess whether or not you can:

    ·         Use critical and technical vocabulary to describe and analyze, and formulate an argument about Italian literary works and literary types.

    ·         Examine multiple interpretative possibilities of Italian literary works.

    ·         Assess the relationship of Italian literary texts to the cultural-historical nexus that produced them.

    ·         Generate new ideas and hypotheses in relation to the study of Italian literary works and of how they reflect an Italy that changes over centuries; and develop strategies for seeking and synthesizing information to support your argument.




    ·         class participation                      10%

    ·         two quizzes                                 20%

    ·         mid-term paper (4-5 pages)      10%

    ·         mid-term examination               15%

    ·         final paper (6 pages)                 15%

    ·         final examination                       20%

    ·         oral presentation                      10%


    Grading scale:


























    Attendance Policy and Academic Integrity Statement:


    ·         Daily attendance and active participation in class are vital factors in gaining literary knowledge and developing critical thinking skills.

    ·         The student is welcome to see the instructor at regular office hours or by appointment when additional help is needed.

    ·         Students are invited to prepare all readings before discussion in class.

    ·         Topics for the papers are to be discussed with the instructor before writing: these present such a wide spectrum that the choice will rest ultimately on the student.

    ·         All papers should involve strictly personal research:

    “Pursuit of truth is the prime activity in a university community.  As a member of this community each student pledges to maintain standards of honesty and integrity in all academic work.  Exams:  Students must rely exclusively upon their own knowledge. Papers: students must document sources of secondary information. Failure to comply with these standards will result in a failing grade.”

    Schedule of Readings:

    1st, 2nd & 3rd Week

    Mandragola – Niccolò Macchiavelli (1469-1527)

    4th Week

    Commedia dell’Arte

    Feb …

    Quiz 1

    5th Week

    The Venetians Twins and The Artful Widow – Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793)

    6th Week

    The Innkeeper  – (Teatro Eliseo, Mar 16-28)

    7th Week

    The House by the Medlar Tree - Giovanni Verga (1840-1922)

    March …

    Exam 1 (Research paper due)

    March … - …

    Spring Break


    Naked Masks – Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936); showing of the play Six Characters in Search of an Author

    9th Week

    Six Characters in Search of an Author - Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936);

    10th & 11th Week

    Maria Zef - Paola Drigo (1876 - 1938)

    April …

    Quiz 2

    12th & 13th Week

    Dolcissimo - Giuseppe Bonaviri (1924)

    14th Week

    Oral reports

    April …

    (Final paper due)

    May …  

    Final Exam

    Suggested Readings:

    From the following suggested list choose one book for your oral report and one for your second  paper:

    Italo Calvino, The Invisibile Cities or The trilogy

    Cesare Pavese, Among Women Alone

    Tommaso di Lampedusa, The Leopard

    Sibilla Aleramo, A Woman

    Dacia Maraini, (The Long Life of Marianna Ucria) The Silent Duchess

    Ignazio Silone, Fontamara or Bread and Wine

    Grazia Deledda

    Rodolfo Di Biasio

    Primo Levi, If this is a Man

    Anna Banfi, Artemisia

    Carlo Levi, Christ Stopped at Eboli

    Alberto Moravia, The Empty Canvas or Agostino

    Melania Mazzucco, Vita  and others…..


    Office hours: Tue and Thu 2,00 - 2,40 p.m. and by appointment.

    E-mail: gsotis@luc.edu