75349 - Literature and Visual Studies (LM)

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Modern, Post-Colonial and Comparative Literatures (cod. 0981)

Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing students with theoretical tools for interpreting literature in the new framework of visual culture which emerged at the threshold of modernity. Students acquire a deep knowledge of the relationships between verbal and visual texts in their multiple manifestations, and are familiar with the main theoretical categories and methodologies which have been elaborated by visual studies and have crossed (and transformed) literary studies themselves.

Course contents

Literature, photography, and illustration at the beginning of the Twentieth century: The collaboration between Henry James and Alvin Langdon Coburn

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Henry James established a collaboration with Alvin Langdon Coburn, a young photographer originally related to Pictorialism and then linked to more experimental experiences. This collaboration results in a series of photographic illustrations entertaining a complex relationship with the literary text. In analyzing this case study from the point of view of the genesis of the images and of the editorial context, this course aims at reflecting on the relationship between writing and visual culture, literature and photography, word and image within the framework of the technological, social and cultural transformations that have marked the turn from the 19th to the 20th Century: from the rise of what Walter Benjamin has called the "technological reproduction" to the development of tourism and the emergence of a new imagery of space and places.

Classes will be held in the second semester (February-March).


1.Literary texts:

► Henry James,The Ambassadors

► Henry James, In the Cage

► Henry James, The Aspern Papers

► Henry James, "Four Meetings" [short story]

► Henry James, "The Real Thing" [short story]

► Henry James, “Venice”, in Id, Italian Hours [travelogue]

2. Critical texts:

► Philip Dubois, L’acte photographique

► Susan Sontag, On Photography

► John Urry, Jonas Larsen, The Tourist Gaze 3.0, London, Sage, 2011

► Maria Nikolajeva, Carole Scott, “Introduction”, in How Picturebooks Work, London & New York, Routledge (pp. 1-28)


Teaching methods

This 30 hours course is based on the reading, analysis and discussion of literary and non-literary texts. During the lectures, students will be invited to take an active part, with questions and insights.
Further downloadable materials in support of the lessons such as digital images, power point presentations and readings will be uploaded on the Moodle Unibo Virtuale during the course.

Assessment methods

Oral examination.

The abilities acquired during the course will be evaluated through an oral test aimed at ascertaining a deep knowledge of all the topics covered during the course. The oral test consists in an interview aimed at evaluating the students' critical and methodological skills. Students will be invited to discuss the texts in the reading list and comment on them. Therefore students must demonstrate an appropriate knowledge of the recommended reading list.

Students who are able to demonstrate a wide and systematic understanding of the issues covered during the course, to tackle them critically, and who master the critical jargon of the discipline will be given a mark of excellence. Students who demonstrate a mere mnemonic knowledge of the subject together with a more superficial analytical ability to synthesize, a correct command of the critical jargon but not always appropriate, will be given a ‘fair' mark. A superficial knowledge and understanding of the course topics, a scarce analytical and expressive ability will be rewarded with a pass mark or just above a pass mark. Students who demonstrate gaps in their knowledge of the main topics, inappropriate language skills, lack of familiarity with the syllabus reading list will not be given a pass mark.

Office hours

See the website of Donata Meneghelli


Quality education Gender equality Sustainable cities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.