13338 - Contemporary Italian Literature (N-Z)

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course the student has acquired a working knowledge of wide areas of twentieth-century literary history, with special emphasis on the relation between literature and historical, social, anthropological, and more broadly cultural phenomena. Study is assisted by secondary literature and face-to-face tuition and covers close reading of the text as well as problems of form, structure, composition, and reception.

Course contents

Topic of the course: Like animated magic. Music in the Italian literature of the twentieth century.

The course lasts 60 hours, equivalent to 12 training credits. It is a path of reading through works of the Italian twentieth century, in verse and prose, in which the presence of music has resulted in a structural, thematic and stylistic value. The course requires a minimum basic knowledge of Italian literature of the twentieth century, but does not require prior skills or notions of music.

The course starts on Monday 20 September 2021. Classes are held in person, with a limited number of students compared to the capacity of the classroom, and with remote connection on Microsoft Teams. Students wishing to participate in face-to-face lessons can book themselves on the "Presente" web site. Here is the timetable:

- Monday, 9-11, Room V, Via Zamboni 38;

- Tuesday, 9-11 am, Room V, Via Zamboni 38 [from 21 September to 26 October, 2021], then Aula Pascoli, Via Zamboni 32 [from 9 November to 14 December, 2021];

- Thursday, 11 am-1pm, Room VI, Via Zamboni 38 [from 23 September to 28 October, 2021], then Aula II, Via Zamboni 38 [from 9 November to 16 December 2021].


This course splits in a series of lectures and an individual study programme, which is not mandatory for Erasmus and Overseas students.


Readings and discussions of narrative, poems and criticism are framed in six units as detailed below. All resources can be read in editions and reprints that are different from those suggested, even in e-reading formats.  

1. Gabriele d'Annunzio, Il fuoco [The Flame, 1900], ed. by Niva Lorenzini, Milan: Mondadori, 2020 (not compulsory for Erasmus and Overseas students).

2. Clemente Rebora, Frammenti lirici [Lyrical Fragments, 1913], annotated edition ed. by Gianni Mussini and Matteo Giancotti, Novara: Interlinea, 2008.

3. Beppe Fenoglio, Una questione privata [A Private Matter, posth., 1963], Turin: Einaudi, 2014.

4. Amelia Rosselli, Variazioni belliche [War Variations, 1964], edited by Emmanuela Tandello, Milan: Mondadori, 2021.

5. Giorgio Caproni, Il muro della terra [The Wall of the Earth, 1975], Il franco cacciatore [The Free Hunter, 1982], Il conte di Kevenhüller [The Count of Kevenhüller, 1986], in L'opera in versi, ed. by Luca Zuliani, Milan: Mondadori, 1998.

6. Pier Vittorio Tondelli, Un weekend postmoderno. Cronache dagli anni Ottanta [A Postmodern Weekend. Chronicles from the Eighties, 1990], Milan: Bompiani, 2014 [the following chapters are mandatory: Scenari italiani [Italian Scenarios]; Rimini come Hollywood [Rimini like Hollywood]; Un weekend postmoderno [A Postmodern Weekend]; Frequenze rock [Rock Frequencies]; Viaggi [Trips]; America [America]; Giro in provincia [A Tour in Small Towns]].

Useful directions on these and other resources will be provided throughout the lectures. Samples will be partially made available on time with a view to the exam.

Unibo Students who attend the course for six credits are expected to choose and study an amount of three units on those making up the course as a whole.

Erasmus and Overseas exchange students who are attending the course for 6 credits will be requested to write a short essay (up to 20000 bytes) upon a topic related to the course programme. This topic will be negotiated with the teacher, who will assign a specific set of bibliographical references. The essay will be discussed at the oral examination session. Beyond this essay, Erasmus+ and Overseas exchange students who are attending the course for 12 credits will be requested to study at least one unit among those included in the forementioned lectures, and to briefly explain it during the oral examination appointment.

Students who are not going to attend the class will add: Sistema periodico. Il secolo interminabile delle riviste, ed. by Francesco Bortolotto, Eleonora Fuochi, Davide Antonio Paone, and Federica Parodi, Bologna: Pendragon, 2018.

Individual Study Programme

This study programme has to be prepared individually by students. It is not mandatory for Erasmus and Overseas exchange students. Throughout the series of lectures some directions will be provided, and some of the texts discussed will be put in relationship with those included in the individual study programme. A portion of the texts will be provided in a scanned format and made available with a view to the final examination.

A seminar in support of the Individual Study Programme, instructed by Dr. Marta Serena with start on November, 2021, will be activated. The seminar will take place on Teams with schedule and procedures which will be cleared during the course.

Un seminario di supporto alla preparazione della parte istituzionale sarà attivato a cura della Dr. Marta Serena [https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/marta.serena2] a partire da novembre 2021. Il seminario si svolgerà sulla piattaforma Teams in tempi e modalità che saranno precisate durante il corso.

Please note that B.0 Section is mandatory for students in Humanities (code 8850), as well as in History (code 0962). However, it is not mandatory for students in Communication Sciences (code 8885), and for all students enrolled in Erasmus and Overseas international programmes.

Students should also read one text at their choice, together with the related essays of criticism, picked from three sections out of the six available among the following ones. Please note also that it is not allowed to choose a totality of three sections of prose, or three sections of poems.

B.0) The Origins of Modernity - Texts

- Giacomo Leopardi, Canti, Milan: Rizzoli, 1998 [Ultimo canto di Saffo, Alla sua donna, Canto notturno di un pastore errante dell’Asia, A se stesso, Aspasia, La ginestra];

- Giacomo Leopardi, Operette morali, Milan: Rizzoli, 2008 [Dialogo della moda e della morte, Dialogo di Torquato Tasso e del suo genio familiare, Dialogo della natura e di un islandese, Cantico del Gallo Silvestre, Dialogo di Federico Ruysch e delle sue mummie, Dialogo di Tristano e di un amico];

- Alessandro Manzoni, I promessi sposi, Turin: Einaudi, 2015 [chapters 1, 2, 8, 37, 38].

B.0) The Origins of the Modern - Criticism

Marco Antonio Bazzocchi, Leopardi, Bologna: Il Mulino, 2008 [the sections devoted to the Canti and Operette morali mentioned above].

B.1) Avant-garde and Experimental Literature - Poems

- Aldo Palazzeschi, L’incendiario, Milan: Mondadori, 2001;

- Guido Gozzano, I colloqui, in Tutte le poesie, Milan: Mondadori, 2016; 

- Dino Campana, Canti orfici e altre poesie, Milan: Garzanti, 2007.

B.1) Avant-garde and Experimental Literature - Criticism

- Niva Lorenzini, Le tensioni del nuovo, in La poesia italiana del Novecento, Bologna: Il Mulino, 2018.

B.2) Poetry of the Early 20th Century - Poems

- Giuseppe Ungaretti, L'Allegria, in Vita d’un uomo. Tutte le poesie, Mondadori, Milano 2009; related criticism: Guido Guglielmi, Interpretazione di Ungaretti, Bologna: Il Mulino, 1999;

- Eugenio Montale, Ossi di seppia, ed. by Pietro Cataldi and Floriana d'Amely, with an essay by Pier Vincenzo Mengaldo and a note by Sergio Solmi, Milan: Mondadori, 2016; related criticism: Introduzione and commentary by Pietro Cataldi and Floriana d'Amely to this edition;

- Umberto Saba, Mediterranee, in Il canzoniere, Turin: Einaudi, 2014; related criticism: Giacomo Debenedetti, Poesia italiana del Novecento, Milan: Garzanti, 1989.

B.3) The Neorealismo and the Armed Resistance - Prose

- Elio Vittorini, Uomini e no, Milan: Mondadori, 2016;

- Renata Viganò, L'Agnese va a morire, Turin: Einaudi, 2014;

- Italo Calvino, Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno, Milan: Mondadori, 2014;

- Primo Levi, La tregua, Turin: Einaudi, 2014.

B.3) The Neorealismo and the Armed Resistance - Criticism

- Giulio Ferroni, Nel tempo del neorealismo, in Storia della letteratura italiana. Il Novecento e il nuovo millennio, Milan: Mondadori, 2012, pp. 373-412.

B.4) Literature and Riot Movements - Prose

- Pier Vittorio Tondelli, Altri libertini, Milan: Feltrinelli, 2013;

- Natalia Ginzburg, Caro Michele, Turin: Einaudi, 2006;

- Enrico Palandri, Boccalone. Storia vera piena di bugie, Milan: Bompiani, 2000;

- Gianni Celati, Comiche, Macerata: Quodlibet, 2012.

B.4) Literature and Riot Movements - Criticism

- Alice disambientata, ed. by Gianni Celati, Florence: Le Lettere, 2007.

B.5) The Postmodern Context - Prose

- Umberto Eco, Il nome della rosa, Milan: Bompiani, 2018;

- Italo Calvino, Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore, Milan: Mondadori, 2016;

- Antonio Tabucchi, Il gioco del rovescio e altri racconti, Milan: Feltrinelli, 2013.

B.5) The Postmodern Context - Criticism

- Raffaele Donnarumma, Postmoderno italiano: un’introduzione, in Il romanzo contemporaneo. Voci italiane?, ed. by Franca Pellegrini and Elisabetta Tarantino, Leicester: Troubadour, 2006.

B.6) The Late 20th Century Poetry - Poems

- Vittorio Sereni, Gli strumenti umani, Milan: Il Saggiatore, 2018;

- Pier Paolo Pasolini, Le ceneri di Gramsci, Milan: Garzanti, 2015;

- Milo De Angelis, Somiglianze, in Tutte le poesie, Milan: Mondadori, 2017;

- Amelia Rosselli, Serie ospedaliera, in Le poesie, Milan: Garzanti, 1999.

B.6) The Late 20th Century Poetry - Criticism

- Niva Lorenzini, Dopo la lirica, in La poesia italiana del Novecento, Bologna: Il Mulino, 2018.

Unibo Students who attend the course for six credits are expected to choose and study one unit at their choice, by picking up a single text combined with an essay, beside the B.0 Section (not mandatory for Communication Sciences students) from the Individual Study Programme.

For Erasmus and Overseas students, as specified above, the preparation of the Individual Study Programme is not mandatory.

Teaching methods

Traditional lectures with a strong interaction between students and teacher.

Assessment methods

The final exam consists of an oral appointment, which aims to verify some methodological, personally developed skills. It lasts approx. 20 minutes, split in two parts. The first one focuses on the main theoretical matters approached throughout the class, verifiyng the preparation upon at least two units among those included in the study programme. The second one will consist of the brief exposition of an individual in-depth analysis, even previously submitted in a written sample, upon a review, a topic or a period included in the study programme.

A positive or excellent score (27 to 30/30, with possible distinction) corresponds to a full mastering of technical, theoretical, historical and terminological resources of Twentieth-Century and contemporary literature, and to a proved ability to make connections among single aspects of the course contents, and to show awareness of textual features with appropriate language; an average score (23 to 26/30) goes to students who reveal some lacks in one or more topics or analytical proofs, or are able to use just mechanically their ability in interpretation; a pass or low score (18 to 22/30) to students with severe lacks in one or more topics or exercises, or not enough accurate while they use or quote notions and samples. A negative score is assigned to students who are not able to recall general notions in text samples and/or in general.

Exam sessions take place once in a month, and are scheduled in turns. Students must sign up at the AlmaEsami web site (https://almaesami.unibo.it). Registrations end two days before the oral examination.

Teaching tools

Excerpts from texts and criticism in digital scans.

Office hours

See the website of Stefano Colangelo


Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

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