02609 - Contemporary Italian Literature (A-F)

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Drama, Art and Music Studies (cod. 5821)

    Also valid for First cycle degree programme (L) in Drama, Art and Music Studies (cod. 0956)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course the student: has a non-abstract and non-manualistic awareness of the main lines of development of Italian literary culture from National Unity to the present day; knows how to apply appropriate methods of analysis to the literary text in prose and verse, distinguishing its relations with different linguistic, artistic and cultural traditions; is able to read the literary text as an open form, in dialogue with the ideological and social horizon of his time, against the background of the wider European context.

Course contents

The Contemporary Historical-Artistic Novel


The course considers contemporary novels (from the second half of the twentieth century to the present day) in which the complex relationship between literature and painting is most evident, giving rise to a hybrid genre between fiction, artist biography and art history. In particular, the analysis focuses on the different strategies implemented by writers to make the literary word and the pictorial element interact: the necessary biographical research; the historical-artistic skills of the writer; the construction of the figure of the painter-character; the descriptive power of the paintings.
The second part of the course is monographic, focusing on the works of the writer Melania G. Mazzucco, in which her accurate ability to rework the documentation found in the archives for narrative purposes is more evident, in order to reconstruct the biographies of artists of the past (such as Tintoretto and Plautilla Briccia) and the cultural context in which they worked.

The themes addressed during the course will be:
1) the relationship between literature and painting 2) ekphrasis, i.e. the different modalities of verbal description of a painting 3) the question of the look in literature 4) the iconological analysis 5) the "visual turn" and the "pictorial turn" 6) literature and the art world in postmodernity.


The students have to read the following books:

I modulo:

- Anna Banti, Artemisia, Sansoni, 1947 (ora Bompiani, 1989/2005 o SE, 2015)

- Marisa Volpi, Fatali stelle, Longanesi, 1998

- Serena Giordano, Il dentista di Duchamp, Il melangolo, 2020

II modulo:

- Melania G. Mazzucco, La lunga attesa dell’angelo, Rizzoli, 2008 (anche edizioni successive)

- Melania G. Mazzucco, L’architettrice, Einaudi, 2019

Critical essays:

- Vincenza Scuderi, Modi d’ékphrasis. Un’introduzione, in A. Valtolina (a cura di), L’immagine rubata, Bruno Mondadori, 2007, pp. 9-15.

- Marco Antonio Bazzocchi, Con gli occhi di Artemisia, il Mulino, 2021 (Capitoli 1 e 3)

- Filippo Milani, Il pittore come personaggio. Itinerari nella narrativa italiana contemporanea, Carocci, 2020.

- All the documents uploaded on VIRTUALE

Non-attending students add:

- Cento anni di letteratura italiana 1910-2010, a cura di Marco A. Bazzocchi, Einaudi, 2021 (Parte Terza: capitoli 1 e 2; Parte Quinta)

Teaching methods

In line with the restrictions imposed by the current health emergency, the course will be carried out in teaching mode:

traditional: the teacher will always be present in the classroom designated for teaching, students will alternate in attendance according to a schedule of shifts being defined (more detailed information about the shift and how to access the lesson in attendance will be provided later). It will always be possible to connect remotely and follow live streaming of the lessons in the classroom via TEAMS platform.

During the lessons students will be encouraged to actively participate in common discussions and reflections (also via chat). The didactics will make use of audiovisual tools and in particular the screening of films and documentaries useful for contextualizing and deepening the literary texts analyzed. In some specific cases a specialist may be called to give single lesson.

Assessment methods

The written test consists - only for non-italian students - in a paper (8-10 pages) about one or more arguments of the course. The paper must be previuosly approved by the teacher and must be send with an e-mail attachment at least a week before the oral test.

The oral test consists in an oral interview to evaluating the critical and methodological ability of the students. The studentwill be invited to discuss the scheduled books. The student must demonstrate an appropriate knowledge of the bibliography.

Students that have to take 6 CFU exam will arrange only the program of Modulo I or Modulo II and critical essays.

Assessment consists in an examination aiming to assess the knowledge and critical skills acquired by the candidate during the course.

1. First-class marks will be awarded to candidates who demonstrate an ability to analyse texts in depth and to produce an organic overview of the topics covered in the course. Overall mark between 27 and 30 cum laude (high linguistic ability is required).

2. A mostly mnemonic knowledge of the subject, analytical skills lacking depth, and correct but not always apposite expression will result in a modest mark. Overall mark between 23 and 26.

3. Elementary knowledge, superficial understanding, poor analytical skills, and inapposite expression will lead to a pass or only slightly higher mark. Overall mark between 18 and 22.

4. Gaps in the candidate’s knowledge, inapposite language, and inadequate engagement with the secondary literature offered in the course will result in a fail mark.

Teaching tools

In addition to lectures, held by the teacher, audiovisual tools will be used to support the teaching. Students will also be invited to bring a significant contribution to enreach the issues upon which the course focuses.

Office hours

See the website of Filippo Milani


Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

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