30079 - Anglo-American Literature 1 (LM)

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Reduced inequalities Sustainable cities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Students will master a variety of North American literary productions in relation to their cultural, social and technological realities. Students will learn to appreciate literary productions as part of  complex, trans-media and inclusive contexts.

Course contents


The UNESCO Agenda 2030 for sustainable development focuses on social, political, economic, and cultural challenges that touch planet Earth and its trans-national communities: gender equality and no poverty, climate action and no inequalities, zero hunger and quality education are only some of the 17 sustainable development goals to achieve by 2030 and create a better world. Against these world challenges, Literature cannot be perceived simply as ‘decorative knowledge’ making the world beautiful but not creating job opportunities, apart from a limited number of standard jobs within traditional sectors. Literature must become a function inseparable from our communal existence. Literature must shift its heuristic towards an empathic approach that can help us to map both the cognitive and the emotional impact of storytelling, also based on the analysis of the perceptive responses across the ages and in diverse communities.

Responding to the above, this course will explore the role that North American literature can play to make us aware of social, ethnic, political and systemic discrimination in North American realities. Comparing contemporary literary voices from the USA and Canada, this course will employ old and new forms of literature to investigate a variety of issues, such as:

  • Law and Justice: Are they the same?
  • Law and order: public good, self-reliance.
  • Law and Order: surveillance, dissent, censorship.
  • Crime and punishment: probing prison studies.
  • Visible/invisible borders: old/new (mental) segregations.
  • Shaping mentalities: literature, media, cognitive pollution.
  • Changing times: law and order in the post-digital society.
  • ….and more!

Please Notice: This course is organized as part of the sustainability phase of the European Project “PERFORMIGRATIONS: People Are the Territory” (www.performigrations.eu ), in the frame of the 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 detailed schedule will be available when classes start.


The list of primary and secondary sources will be implemented every week, based on the discussed topics and authors. In view of the final exam, students will be able to create and customize their reading list, as well as the theme for their essay under the supervision of the course director.

As a rule, some North American “classics” will be probed as starting points to assess crucial issues related to the course. Here are the recommended classics for this course:

  • Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience (1849)
  • Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)

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

Class presentations (or oral exam); final essay (3000-3500 words, based on a customised selection of texts, discussed with the course instructor).

For students who opt for the oral exam: the essay must be delivered at least 1 week prior the date of the exam.


Teaching tools

Traditional and Multimedia tools

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Elena Lamberti