28923 - Theory of Literature (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the students have a good insight in the specificity of literary language, a depth knowledge about the general concepts of literature, the literary institutions, the relationships between text and context, the dynamics of literary communication, as well as stylistic traditions, genres, modes and forms of representation. They can master the interpretative tools for the analysis of literary texts.

Course contents


The main topic of the course is the complex relationship between fiction and experience. In particular, we will focus on a thematic issue: the way in which some novels have described one of the major experiences of human life, the passion of love.

Period: Second semester (february-march 2019)

Timetable of lessons, classrooms etc: See School of Foreign Languages, Literature and Translation website


 I. Novels

  • Gustave Flaubert, L’educazione sentimentale (1869), Einaudi
  • Thomas Hardy, L’amata (1897), Edizioni Clichy
  • Marcel Proust, Un amore di Swann (1913), in Proust, Dalla parte di Swann, primo volume di Alla ricerca del tempo perduto, Mondadori
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955), Adelphi
  • Alberto Moravia, La noia (1960), Bompiani

II.Critical Texts

Students will choose three texts from the list below:

  • Roland Barthes, Frammenti di un discorso amoroso, Einaudi
  • Federico Bertoni, Sull’utilità e il danno della letteratura per la vita, in «Between», vol. III, n. 5, 2013 (http://ojs.unica.it/index.php/between/article/view/954 )
  • Stefano Calabrese, «Wertherfieber», bovarismo e altre patologie della lettura romanzesca, in Franco Moretti (a cura di), Il romanzo, vol. I: La cultura del romanzo, Einaudi, pp. 567-598
  • Sigmund Freud, Introduzione al narcisismo, in La teoria psicanalitica, Bollati Boringhieri
  • Jules De Gaultier, Il bovarismo, SE
  • René Girard, Menzogna romantica e verità romanzesca, Bompiani
  • Niklas Luhman, Amore come passione, Laterza
  • Denis de Rougemont, L’amore e l’Occidente, Rizzoli
  • Jean Rousset, Leurs yeux se rencontrèrent. La scène de première vue dans le roman, Corti
  • Stendhal, Dell’amore (soltanto il Libro Primo), Garzanti
  • Victor Stoichita, L'effetto Pigmalione. Breve storia dei simulacri da Ovidio a Hitchcock, Il Saggiatore

Teaching methods

Traditional lectures

Assessment methods

The exam consists of an oral test that will assess the knowledge of the texts and the student's critical and interpretative skills. It will also assess the student's methodological awareness, the ability to master the bibliography in the course programme and the the field-specific language of the discipline. The ability to establish links between the theoretical framework and the texts will be expecially appreciated. A wide and systematic knowledge of the texts, interpretative insight, critical understanding and rhetorical effectiveness will be evaluated with a mark of excellence, while a mnemonic knowledge of the subject with a more superficial analytical ability and ability to synthesize, a correct command of the language but not always appropriate, will be evaluated with a “fair” mark. A superficial knowledge and understanding of the material, a scarce analytical and expressive ability will be evaluated with a pass mark or a negative mark.

Teaching tools

Projection of Power point slides. For further teaching material see the website (link "Teaching material" on the right side of this page).

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Federico Bertoni