31055 - Anglo-American Literature 1

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Elena Lamberti

  • Credits 9

  • SSD L-LIN/11

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language English

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme First cycle degree programme (L) in Foreign Languages and Literature (cod. 0979)


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

Quality education Reduced inequalities Sustainable cities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Students will learn the literary history of the period at stake; they will acquire useful literary tools to analyze fictional productions and question them in relation to the complex and heterogeneous North American realities.

Course contents


The course is an introduction to North American literature (USA and Canada) written in English, with a special focus on identity issues and the making of "national" literatures. Classic and funding texts will be compared to outline the symbolic and mythological patterns that have moulded the US and Canadian realities, from the European colonization till the end of the 19th century.

In this class, literature is investigated through a constant dialogue with other arts, including media, cinema, photography, and the visual arts. The concepts of identity, memory, community, inner/outer landscape will constitute the thematic paradigms to approach the evolving mentalities underpinning the evolution of complex identity processes in the so-called New World.

These are some of the topics that will be addressed:

  • Discovering / Conquering / Inventing “North America”: USA and Canada.
  • USA Melting Pot versus Canadian Multiculturalism
  • Puritan roots of American literary discourses.
  • American Pioneers: mapping the frontier(s).
  • Canadian travelogues: female voices of the origins and contemporary interpretations.
  • American Transcendentalism/Renaissance: Eco-Criticism, Self-Reliance, New Canons.
  • Civil War: Slavery, Freedom, Human Rights.
  • The Gilded Age.
  • American Proto-Modernism

Please Note: This course is organized as part of the sustainability phase of the European Project “PERFORMIGRATIONS: People Are the Territory” (www.performigratios.eu ), in the frame of the spn-off research project “WeTell: Storytelling and Civic Awareness” (https://site.unibo.it/wetell/en ) and in collaboration with the literary portal https://site.unibo.it/canadausa . The main goal is to encourage a new global mentality, deeply rooted in the humanities, so to reorient today geopolitics and create a happier and more just world. No knowledge is useful if it leads to satisfy only a few people’s urgent needs, be that material or emotional; knowledge is useful if it induces us to question our communal existence, helping us to learn how to act upon our community in responsible ways, in turn leading to a truly shared happiness.


This course will feature a series of guest scholars and professionals to encourage the dialogue between literature and civic society so to widen our knowledge of learning and training opportunities available nationally or internationally. The list of featured guests will available when classes start.


i) Bibliography for the brief statement:

Students must choose two among the suggested readings here below (one for the US reality; one for the Canadian reality), either in Italian or in English, to prepare their brief statement (see A, assessment methods here above):

In Italian

  • C. Iuli, P. Loreto (eds), La letteratura degli Stati Uniti. Carocci Editore, 2017 (capitoli 1-6; 8).
  • G. Fink, M. Maffi, F. Minganti, B. Tarozzi, Storia della letteratura americana (nuova edizione), Firenze: Sansoni (1991) 2013 (dalle origini al 1915)
  • Gebbia Alessandro, “La letteratura Anglocanadese”, in Lombardo A. (a cura di) Le Orme di Prospero. Le Nuove letterature di lingua inglese: Africa, Carabi, Canada, Roma, La Nuova Italia Scientifica, 1995, pp. 141-219;
  • Capone Giovanna, Canada. Il villaggio della terra, Bologna, Patron (chapters 1,2,3).

In English:

The Columbia Literary History of the United States, Columbia U.P., 1988 (Part 1, Chapters I, III; Part 2, Chapters II, III, IV; Part 3, Chapter IV).

Richard J. Lane, The Routledge Concise History of Canadian Literature, Routledge, 2011 (Chapters 1, 2, 3)

The Cambridge Companion to Canadian Literature, Edited by Eva-Marie Kroller, Cambridge U.P. 2004 (Chapters 1, 3, 4).

ii) Bibliography for the Final Essay

In view of the final exam (see B, assessment methods), students will be able to create and customize their reading list, as well as their theme for their essay under the supervision of the course director.

For the essay, students must work on at least three (3) primary sources (novels, memoirs, poem collections, travelogues); students must choose at least two (2) secondary sources (critical essays/books; films; Multimedia) consistent with the chosen topic.

Teaching methods

Students’ active participations is strongly encouraged. Therefore, in addition to the lecture format, group work will be scheduled to create a vibrant and interactive educational environment.

Assessment methods

The FINAL EXAM consists of three parts, two written, one oral:

A) Brief statement (1000-1500 words presentation; or a max 5-minute video; or a poster in Italian or English) on differences/affinities between Canadian and American literary roots.

B) Short essay (3000-3500 words, in Italian or English) on a literary topic chosen among those discussed in class.

The Brief statement and the Short essay must be submitted at least 1 week before the date of the exam. 

C) Oral exam (15-minute interview in Italian/English to test the student’s knowledge of the North American literary period studied in this class - XVII-XIX CENTURIES).

Teaching tools

Traditional and Multimedia tools

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Elena Lamberti