31146 - English Literature 2 (M-Z)

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Foreign Languages and Literature (cod. 0979)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course the students will acquire an adequate knowledge of the general problems and individual aspects of the history of English literature. They will be able to understand and translate texts in the original language; they will be able to apply specific methodologies to the analysis and interpretation of literary texts and provide an appropriate critical commentary.

Course contents

Marginal Identities from the Romantics to the Victorians

The course analyzes the development of 19th-century English literature through the examination of canonical literary texts and historical/cultural documents. Starting from the eighteenth century, the course will focus, in particular, on the literary representation of marginal groups and identities and on the contribution of literature to the historical-cultural process of recognition of their role and their rights. Alongside a reconstruction of the crucial phases of British literary history from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, the course will address topics such as the process of female emancipation, the slave trade, the exploitation of the poor and children, the freedom of sexual orientation in a selection of texts belonging to different genres: from Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman, to Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol, through the novels of Jane Austen (Mansfield Park), Charles Dickens (Great Expectations) and the contribution of Romantic women poets to the debate on the abolition of slavery.


For the history of English literature, students are expected to read the following textbook:

L. M. Crisafulli and K. Elam (eds), Manuale di letteratura e cultura inglese, Bologna, BUP, 2009 (from the eighteenth century to the end of the Victorian age: pp. 139-326).

International students and non-native speakers of Italian may read the relevant sections (from the eighteenth century to the Victorians) of the following: 

English Literature in Context, ed. P. Poplawski, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008 (chapt. 3 "The Restoration and eighteenth century, 1660-1780"; "The Romantic period, 1780-1832"; "The Victorian Age, 1832-1901").

The Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature, ed. James Chandler, Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 427-506.

Primary texts:

Extracts from the following primary texts, that will be read and analysed in class, will be made available online on the IOL websource:

S. Richardson, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded (extracts)

H. Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (extracts)

H. More, Slavery, A Poem

A. Yearsley, A Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade

W. Blake, The Little Black Boy

M. Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (extracts)

W. Wordsworth, Preface to the Lyrical Ballads; The Idiot Boy

S.T. Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

J. Austen, Mansfield Park (entire novel, any reliable edition)

G.G. Byron, Manfred (extracts)

J. Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

E. Inchbald Lovers’ Vows (estratti) 

C. Dickens, Great Expectations (extracts) 

O. Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Critical readings:

J. Walvin, Slavery (pp.58-65), in An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age. British Culture 1776-1832, ed. by Iain McCalman, (Oxford-New York: OUP, 1999).

E. Said, "Jane Austen and Empire", in Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage, 1993), pp. 80-97.

S. Fraiman, "Jane Austen and Edward Said: Gender, Culture and Imperialism", in Critical Inquiry, vol. 21, n. 4 (Summer 1995), pp. 805-821.

John H. Hagan, «The Poor Labyrinth: The Theme of Social Injustice in Dicken’s ‘Great Expectations’», in Nineteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 9, n.3, December1954, pp. 169-178.

Non-attending students: In addition, non-attending students will be required to read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens in its entirety.

Teaching methods


Assessment methods

  1. Written exam: At the end of the course there will be a written exam which will include: one section of multiple-choice and open questions on English literary history, a second section of analysis and commentary of selected primary texts studied during the course.

    Markers will assess: knowledge of set texts and contents of the course; standard of language and expression; structure of argument; quality of critical reflection; ability to discuss the contents of the course; ability to provide clear and accurate interpretations of the texts; ability to use the specialist language of literary criticism.

  2. Oral exam (approx. 30 min.) The students who do not pass the written exam, or are not able to attend it, will take an oral exam divided in two parts: one dedicated to the relevant period of English literary history, and a second one dedicated to the set texts, in which students will be required to discuss their readings and (for attending students) the contents of the course. Markers will assess: knowledge of the contents of the course; standard of expression; ability to provide clear and accurate interpretations of the texts; ability to discuss the contents of the course; ability to use the specialist language of literary criticism; quality of critical reflection.

Assessment Criteria: To be awarded a final mark between 27 and 30 cum laude students are expected to: show the ability to analyse in depth literary texts following the methodology introduced by the lecturer and/or in the set critical readings; possess and be able to present a thorough and organic knowledge of the topics discussed in class and/or in the set readings; show an excellent standard of expression; show the ability to use properly the technical language of philology and literary criticism. A mark between 23 and 26 will be awarded to students who will show: a good knowledge of the course contents; the ability to provide an accurate analysis of literary texts (although there might be some minor imperfections); a good standard of expression (with occasional minor flaws in the presentation and/or in the use of technical language). Students obtaining a mark between 18 and 22 will typically show: an adequate but superficial knowledge of the contents; a basic understanding of the texts and a limited ability to analyse them, an acceptable standard of expression with a fairly competent (although not always accurate) use of technical language. Poor knowledge of the set texts and course topics, inadequate ability to analyse literary texts; inaccurate and inappropriate expression with major problems in the use of technical language will result in a fail.

Teaching tools

Literary and critical texts, power point presentations, web—based resources.

Office hours

See the website of Carlotta Farese


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