JCU Logo


COURSE NAME: "Italian Visions: Perceptions of Italy in Literature "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021

INSTRUCTOR: Shannon Russell
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 1:30 PM 2:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above
OFFICE HOURS: By appointment

The course considers the importance of Italy for non-Italian writers, particularly European, British and American writers from the eighteenth century onward. Topics considered include: a critique of the perception and construction of Italy and Italians, the development of genres like the gothic or novels of national identity, the gendering of nationality, imperialism, the use of art and history in literature. Consideration is given to the ways in which these works are in dialogue with each other in terms of cultural assumptions and influence. This course is an alternate course to EN 278. If taken in addition to EN 278, it may count as a major elective. This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 200-level literature classes are required to produce 4-5,000 words of critical writing.
See above as well as the reading list and course schedule.
Students will become familiar with eighteenth and nineteenth century British, American, and European literary engagement with and about Italy. They will be able to identify the important trans-cultural relationships between these writers which their encounters with Italy expose.  They will have a greater appreciation of the way cultural stereotypes both persist and evolve in time. Students will also become familiar with the cultural challenges of travelling and travel writing, through the production of their own reading journals. Students will also learn how to use a digital tools, including Storymapping to create a digital journal and Omeka to produce an virtual exhibition about the literature studied.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Innocent AbroadMark TwainOnline versions available for usexxx  
The ItalianAnn RadcliffeOxford World's Classics978-0-19-283254-2  
Pictures from ItalayCharles DickensOnline versions available for usexxx  
Corinne: or ItalyGermaine De StaelOUP978-0-19-955460-7  
The Marble FaunNathaniel HawthorneOxford World's Classics978-0-19-955407-2  
Italian JourneyJW GoetheOUP978-0-14-44233-5 Please order all books from the Almost Corner Bookshop.
Where Angels Fear to TreadEM ForsterPenguin Classics978-0-14144145-0 Please order all books from the Almost Corner Bookshop.
Daisy MillerHenry JamesOUP10:0199538565 13:978-0199538560  

First essay 1,000 words Essays should conform to MLA standards in terms of documentation of sources and research.20%
Digital Reading Journal (2,000 words) using StorymappingReading journals are to demonstrate the student's engagement with the material in light of their own attempts to articulate either their own or an alien culture. Journals may be personal but must also be critically engaged with the reading assigned. Students should aim to comment in some way on every work of literature we study in the course through their responses in the journal. Students will be trained in Storymapping to produce their final digital journal where they will curate their journal responses to produce a Storymap project.20%
Participation Participation is essential. Students are expected to demonstrate their reading and understanding of the material assigned through their class contributions.10%
Final ExamThe Final Exam will involve an extended essay which will be completed in the exam timetable. The topic will be given in advance and students are expected to arrive at the exam with an outline in place.25%
Second essay 1,500 words  25%

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.

Attendance is mandatory.  At three absences your overall grade for the course is reduced.
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.


There will be FIVE on-site classes.  ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY and our visits have been pre-booked.  Absences will be counted as a missed class. An extra assignment will be required to make up for any legitimate absences due to documented illness.  Personal trips planned do NOT count as a legitimate excuse for absences.

Payment for our field trips is required in advance of the visit. In lieu of these required field trips and the extra time required to attend, one class in the regular schedule has been cancelled on February 25th.  See schedule below for details.

NOTE:  This is a MOODLE class.  More detailed indications of readings, additional course materials and all assignments are available on the Moodle.  The course key for the Moodle is case sensitive and is: EN282SP21

WEEK 1 The Grand Tour - An Introduction

Tues. Jan. 19

Introduction to the Course and Requirements

We will go through the virtual tour of Italy and the Grand Tour constructed from the 2001 exhibition at the Getty Museum.




Review: Three views of the Grand Tour in Norton Anthology 


 Thurs. Jan.  21 The Grand Tour continued:  The Anti-Italy (or Splenetic) Travellers   

Tobias Smollett, Selections from Travels through France and Italy (1766).  Do a google search to find an e-text version like http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/_Texts/Smollett/Travels/25.html

Read Letters 29 - 35 (letters on Rome and final letter in which he sums up the effect of his travels). 

WEEK 2    Pre-Revolution Travellers and the European Artists Abroad

Tues. Jan. 26

Goethe's Italian Journey Read Part 1 

Required reading is the two sections on Rome for our classes, but please feel free to read the entire book.

Thurs. Jan. 28

MEET EARLIER TODAY AT 1pm Introduction to Storymapping (with librarian Eleonora Moccia)

Goethe's Italian Journey Read Part 1 and Part 3

WEEK 3 Transformations continued  

Tues. Feb. 2    DUE Today:  First entries for your journal due (diagnostic assessment)

Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian Volume 1

Please read the prefatory story that introduces the novel and Volume 1

Thurs. Feb. 4

FIRST FIELD TRIP:  Casa di Goethe Via del Corso 18 Meet there at 1:30 pm for our scheduled tour in English  (lasts one hour; Entry to the museum is 5 euros per person, including a private and free guided tour in English). 

WEEK 4  Italy and the Female Gothic: Sublime and Picturesque

Tues. Feb. 9

Read:  Ann Radcliffe The Italian Volume 2

Aesthetic and psychological categories: The Sublime and the Picturesque Background Reading: The concept of the Sublime on the Victorian Website http://www.victorianweb.org/philosophy/sublime/sublimeov.html

Edmund Burke excerpts from essay on the Sublime http://www2.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/romantic/topic_1/burke.htm

Gilpin on ideas of the Picturesque for Romantics http://www2.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/romantic/topic%5F1/riverwye.htm

Thurs. Feb. 11       

Read:   Ann Radcliffe The Italian Volume 3

WEEK 5  The Novel of National Character

Tues. Feb. 16 

Read: Germaine de Stael Corinne; or Italy  Book 1-8, 14, 19 

Thurs. Feb. 18 FIRST ESSAY DUE

Read: Germaine de Stael Corinne; or Italy Book 1-8, 14, 19 

SECOND FIELD TRIP:  Capitoline Museum:  Meet at 1 pm outside the ticket office. Come with your Student ID and appropriate change for the tickets, if we have to pay.  PLEASE purchase the Museum of Rome card (5 euros) to get free or reduced entry to many of Rome's museums, including the Capitoline.  The Capitoline is an important and large museum and depending on the approval, can cost 15 euros.  Plan to spend some time here on your own after we see the things relevant to our reading for the course, as it is well worth it.  We will meet at the Ticket Office and will proceed to the Pinacoteca to view the Cumean Sibyl.  After that we will visit the sculpture gallery to view the Marble Faun and the Dying Gladiator.


Tues.  Feb. 23


Thurs. Feb. 25

Read: Germaine de Stael Corinne; or Italy Book 1-8, 14, 19 


Tues. March 2 The Romantics in and out of Italy


Byron’s Childe Harolde’s Pilgrimage Canto IV especially stanzas cxxviii-cxxxi; cxxxviii-cxlv) http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/chpl10h.htm

Timeline: http://www.rc.umd.edu/reference/chronologies/mschronology/chrono.html#1822


Beppo http://readytogoebooks.com/LB-Bp48.htm


Keats “Happy is England” and selections from Samuel Rogers Italy: A Poem with Illustrations by JMW Turner (editions from 1830 onward)


WEEK 9  Innocence Abroad: American Travellers in Europe

Tues. March 16

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun (Chapters 1-16)

Thurs. March 18

THIRD FIELD TRIP:  Keats Shelley House: Meet at the Museum on the Spanish Steps at 1 pm for a scheduled tour (cost is 6 euros). 

WEEK 10 

Tues. March 23

Hawthorne's The Marble Faun (Chapters 17-35) 

Thurs. March 25

Hawthorne's The Marble Faun (to end)

WEEK 11 Victorian Travellers, New Technologies and the Reinvention of Travel

Tues. March 30

Charles Dickens Pictures from Italy

Read:  Excerpts from Dickens’s Pictures from Italy, including chapters entitled:  Italian Dream, Rome, and A Rapid Diorama:   e-text available on Project Gutenberg

Thurs. April 1 

FOURTH FIELD TRIP: The Palazzo Barberini at 1:30pm  (cost 7 euros for non-EU, less for EU citizens under 25, though we may be approval for free entry).   For those who have time, we can follow our visit to the Palazzo Barberini with a visit to the Bone Church or the Church of L'Immacolata Concezione, Via Vittorio Veneto 27 (Metro Barberini or Bus to Piazza Barberini).   

WEEK 12  Gilded Age Travellers

Tues. April 6

Read:  Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad (Chapter 17-31 and Conclusion)


Thurs. April 8 

Read:  Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad (Chapter 17-31 and Conclusion)


Henry James Daisy Miller Chapter 1

WEEK 13    Going Native and the New Woman Traveller

Tues. April 13

Henry James Daisy Miller Chapters 1-3

Thurs. April 15  SECOND ESSAY DUE

Read:  Henry James’s Daisy Miller Chapters 4-end

WEEK 14 Mediterranean “Paganism” and the Modern Imagination

Tues. April 20

E. M. Forster Where Angels Fear to Tread Chapters 1-2

Thurs. April 22  Storymap Journal Project due in today

Read: E. M. Forster Where Angels Fear to Tread  Chapters 3-4  

WEEK 15 

Tues. April 27

Read: E. M. Forster Where Angels Fear to Tread  Chapters 5-end

Thurs. April 29

Read Edith Wharton's "Roman Fever" available on the internet

FIFTH FIELD TRIP - Protestant Cemetery (Piramide). Two euro donation required.  Meet at Keats's graveside at 1:30 pm.