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COURSE NAME: "Roots of Italian Identities - HONORS (This course carries 4 semester hours of credits. A minimum CUM GPA of 3.5 is required)"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Federica Capoferri
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 4:30-5:45 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)


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 minutes 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.
Make up days: February 22 & March 8

Week 1

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

Dante’s De Vulgari Eloquentia

Homework: Modern Italian Culture, pp. 17-33;63-79.
Dante, De Vulgari Eloquentia, Libro I, up to §IX /included)

Homework: De Vulgari Eloquentia (complete Libro I).
Handout s"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: P. Bembo, Prose della Volgar Lingua, Excertps. Poems from Petrarca's Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, and from Renaissance's Petrachisti.

Homework: 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.

The questione della lingua as political discourse.

HW: Handout on G. Verdi, Coro from Verdi's Nabucco. G. Mameli's Il canto degli italiani.

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 a 'Patria'. Dante's perspective on the political unity of Italy.

F. Petrarca, All'Italia, N. Machiavelli, Il Principe (selected passages).
FRIDAY: make up day

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

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



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 : 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 : Modern Italian Culture- Excerpts from Leopardi (Discorso sugli italiani).
A. Crespi, Storia d'Italia in 15 film, chapter - "La Resistenza".

Home Screening: E. Scola, C'eravamo tanto amati (1974)

WEEK 6--

Italian intellectuals and their vision on Italy. 

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

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

  HM: 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 (March 7)

SPRING BREAK (March  5-10) www.zerocalcare.it
Explore the blog and read comics available on the blog.

Week 8

Redifining the Role of Italian Intellectuals. Cinema and Politics-

Discussion on Il caimano and Belluscone, and Sorrentino's Loro 1&2
Italian Intellectuals and Mass-Media.

Alberto Crespi, Storia d'Italia in 15 film, chapter 13 "Dal magico 89 al berlusconismo"

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: A. Casade, Letteratura e controvalori. Critica escritture nell'età del web: Introduzione and Chaper 3 "Sui rapporti attuali tra letteraturae nazionalità, pp. 91-123.

Week 10

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

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

HW: 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.

HW: P. Antonello, Dimenticare Pasolini, pp.89-96.


Week 12

Class Discussion Expanding the traditional literary canon.

Literature meets Comics (and both meet Cinema Viceversa): Zerocalcare

HW: P. Antonello, Dimenticare Pasolini,pp. 125-144.

Week 13

ORAL PRESENTATIONS Class discussion:

Mafia 2.0.
Gomorra- La serie. 

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

Home screening: Matteo Garrone, Gomorra (2008)

Week 14

Conclusions and review