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COURSE NAME: "Roots of Italian Identities"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Federica Capoferri
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 6:00-7:15 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisites: IT 302 or permission of the instructor

This course aims to give an insight into the linguistic, cultural and sociological complexity of the ‘notion of Italy.’ The topics studied, based primarily on literary texts, include some of the major themes of Italian culture as well as examples of the various ‘identities’ that Italy offers today: the question of political and cultural unity and the long-lasting question of a common national language; the role played by Italian intellectuals in the construction of Italy as a nation; the Mafia and the institution of family-based structures; the Italian literary canon and the contemporary ideas of culture and literature. The course is in Italian.
The topics studied, based primarily on literary texts but also taking into consideration other areas such as contemporary history, social studies, and art history, include some of the major themes of Italian culture as well as examples of the various ‘identities’ that Italy offers today: the role played by Italian intellectuals in the construction of Italy as a Nation, the Mafia and the long-lasting institution of family-based structures, the ideal of beauty, modern design, contemporary literary production. Some of the key authors of Italian literature such as Dante, Petrarca, Machiavelli, Calvino and Pasolini will guide us to the complex process of Italian culture configuration through different ages. Italian political cinema  will be also part of our study of the multilayered identity of Italian culture tradition.

Upon completing this course, students will possess the ability to:

- analyze language and structures of literary texts

- identify main ideas in relationship to the historical and cultural context in which they arose

- identify broad ideological frames of current received ideas on certain aspects of Italian culture

- discuss the relevance of such ideas in connection with other information about topics in question

- discuss cultural heritage and modern aspects of topics studied

- establish comparisons between different media (reading passages, art works, films)

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Dimenticare Pasolini.P.P. AntonelloMimesis9788857516943  
Letteratura e controvalori. Critica e scritture nell'età del weba. CasadeiDonzelli9788868430863  
Scritti corsariP.P. PasoliniGarzanti8811697050   
la mia casa è dove sonoI. ScegoGarzanti9788858651292  
Dimentica il mio nomeZerocalcareBAO978-88-6543-254-9  
The Cambridge Companion to Italian Culture Baranski-West University of Cambridge Press9780521559829  
Storia d'Italia in 15 filmAlberto CrespiLaterzare ISBN: 9788858125229  

2 questionnaires 2 questionnaires composed of 3-4 questions each. Students are expected to expand all the materials we studied in class with further research. At least 2 pages (1,5 space) for EACH answer. Additional instructions will be given in class.20%
midterm examIn-class exam composed of short questions and a critical essay25%
Attendance and participationStudents are expected to engage themselves in class discussions, to pay attention to the Instructors' lectures, take notes, ask questions and come prepared to each class. Cell phones and any other technical devised should be turned OFF (NOT kept on silent or vibrate mode).Text messaging/instant messaging/internet surfing is alsoPROHIBITED! If caught using a cell phone or misusing your laptop during class, you will receive awarning. Further violations of this policy will result in an F on this portion of your grade. Attendance does not mean just "to be there" but to be actively part of the class.. More than 2 classes missed with be penalized with 2 pts for each absence. during an exam, you will be assumed to be cheating and will receive the grade of ‘F’ for the course. Please be respectful towards your instructor and your classmates.10%
oral presentation20-25 oral presentation on a topic previously discussed with the Instructor.15%
Final ExamA CUMULATIVE exam composed by short questions and a critical essay.30%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

More than 2 absences will result in a F in this part (10%) of your grade.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



Make sure to check your MyJCU on regular basis.

week 1--

Introduction to the course. The notion of Italy-
The Question of Language- Brief history of Italian language and its literary use. 

Dante’s De Vulgari Eloquentia

Homework for TH: Modern Italian Culture, pp. 17-33;63-79.
Handout "Questione della lingua"-Dante, De Vulgari Eloquentia, Libro I, up to §IX /included)

Homework for T: De Vulgari Eloquentia (complete Libro I).
Handout "La questione della lingua-2"-

Week 2--

Dante, De Vulgari Eloquentia. Class Discussion.

Italian Renaissance and the question of language. Pietro Bembo's Prose della Volgar Lingua. Literary Canon and the culture of imitatio.

Homework for TH: P. Bembo, Prose della Volgar Lingua, Excertps. Poems from Petrarca's Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, and from Renaissance's Petrachisti.

Homework for T: Handout "La questione della lingua-3".Excertps from Alessandro Manzoni.


Week 3--

The 'questione della lingua' during the Italian Risorgimento.

The role of opera in shaping the national identity during the Ottocento.

HW for TH: Handout on G. Verdi, Coro from Verdi's Nabucco.

HW for T: Dante's Divina Commedia: Inf. VI, vv. 58.75; Purg. VI vv. 223-228; Par. VI, vv. 97-111.

week 4-- 

The 'literary invention' of the political concept of 'Patria'. Dante's perspective on the political unity of Italy.

F. Petrarca, All'Italia, N. Machiavelli, Il Principe (selected passages).

HM for TH: F. Petrarca, All'Italia, N. Machiavelli, Il Principe, chapter XXVI).

HM for T: G. Leopardi, All'Italia.


WEEK 5-- 

Weaving the Topos of Italian Illustrious Past-(Laudatio Temporis Acti).
Giacomo Leopardi, Canzone all'Italia.

Critical use of the topos in the XXth century- Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Alla mia nazione". 

HM for TH: Handout "La questione della lingua-4". P. P. Pasolini, Empirismo Eretico: "Nuove questioni linguistiche"; Alla mia nazione (poem-handout); Scritti corsari:"Sviluppo e progresso"; "Acculturazione e acculturazione".

HM for T: Modern Italian Culture- Excerpts from Leopardi (Discorso sugli italiani),  Flaiano (Diario Notturno), Montanelli-Placido (Eppure si muove), Vassalli (L'italiano).

Questionnaire 1 due-

Home Screening: P. P. Pasolini, Comizi d'amore (1963).

WEEK 6--

Italian intellectuals' commentary on the Italian identities. Excerpts from Vassalli (L'Italiano), Flaiano (Diario Notturno), Montanelli-Placido (Eppur se move), Gaber (Io non mi sento italiano)

Postmodern Engagment: Saviano's 're-appropriation of Pasolini's civic engagement.

HM for THA. Piepaolo. Dimenticare Pasolini. Intellettuali e impegno nell'Italia contemporanea, pp. 97-123. 

  HM for T week 8: P.P.Pasolini, Scritti corsari, "Il romanzo delle stragi".
R. Saviano, Gomorra, pp. 231-240.
A.Pierpaolo, Dimenticare Pasolini, pp. 39-57.


Week 7

Midterm week. Review and exam

Week 8

Redifining the Role of Italian Intellectuals. Cinema and Politics-

Discussion on Il caimano and Belluscone.
Italian Intellectuals and Mass-Media.

HM for TH: homescreening and
Alberto Crespi, Storia d'Italia in 15 film, chapter on Cinema on Berlusconi.

HM for T: T. De Mauro, Storia linguistica dell'Italia repubblicana dal 1946 ai nostri giorni, pp. 53-91.

For TH
home screenings 1)Nanni Moretti, Il caimano (2007)

2) Franco Maresco. Belluscone. Una storia siciliana. (2015)


Week 9

Women and/in Italian Society.
Screening: A. Mazzari, Vogliamo anche le rose.

Class discussion and Oral presentations.

HM for TH:. De Mauro, Storia linguistica dell'Italia repubblicana dal 1946 ai giorni nostri, pp. 92-110.

Week 10

The Italian Literary and Cultural Tradition in the XXI century. National and Transnational approach to Italian canon.  

Class Discussion and Oral presentations.

HM for TH: A. Casadei, Letteratura e controvalori. Critica e scritture nell'età del web. "Introduzione" and chapter III "Sui rapporti attuali tra letteratura e nazionalità", pp. 91-123

Homework for T: Igiaba Scego, La mia casa è dove sono, chapter 1.
A. Casadei, Letteratura e controvalori, "Letteratura e critica all'epoca di internet"; pp. 125-145.


Week 11

Postcolonial Italian Literature:
Igiaba Scego. La mia casa è dove sono.

Homework for TH: P. Antonello, Dimenticare Pasolini, pp.89-96.

Homework for T: A. Crespi, Storia d'Italia in 15 film, Chapter "Il Duemila".

Questionnaire 2 DUE

Week 12

Clips and Discussion on Crespi's chapters.

Expanding the traditional literary canon: Zerocalcare and graphic novels.

HM for TH: Zerocalcare, Dimentica il mio nome-(first half).

HM for T: Zerocalcare, Dimentica il mio nome (end the book)
P. Antonello, Dimenticare Pasolini, pp. 125-144.

Week 13

Discussion on Dimentica il mio nome.

Mafia 2.0.
Gomorra- La serie. 

HM for TH: A. Crespi, Storia d'Italia in 15 film: "2016 e oltre"


Week 14

Conclusions and review