29001 - Twentieth-Century Prose and Narrative Genres (LM)

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students come to a critical awareness of the genres and styles that characterize twentieth-century fiction. They get also acquainted with the major movements, schools and essential aesthetics of storytelling.

Course contents

Topic of the course: «Never knowable». Music in and around the short story and the novel.

The course lasts 60 hours, equivalent to 12 training credits. For Erasmus, Overseas and students interested in obtaining 6 credits, the final exam presents the alternative between two options:

a. the preparation and discussion of a paper of about 25-30000 characters, concerning a specific topic among those of the course, to be agreed with the teacher;

b. the preparation and oral presentation of three units chosen from the six that make up the entire course.

The aim of the course is to investigate the relationship between music and literature in the narrative production of some twentieth-century and contemporary authors.

The choice of this course implies a good knowledge of Italian literature of the twentieth century, acquired during the BA degree.

The course starts on Monday, January 31, 2022, and runs at the following time until March 9, 2022:

Monday, 15-17, Room II, Via Zamboni 38;

Tuesday, 15-17, Room C, Via Centrotrecento 18;

Wednesday, 5-7 pm, Room IV, Via Zamboni 38.

The course will resume on March 22, 2022, and will run until May 6, 2022 with the following timetable:

Tuesday, 5-7 pm, Tibiletti Room, Via Zamboni 38;

Thursday, 5-7 pm, Room C, Via Centotrecento 18;

Friday, 5-7 pm, Room C, Via Centotrecento 18.

The study materials relating to the course and the parts of the texts that will be analyzed during the lessons will be available on the "Virtuale" web site.


During the course, the following texts will be read and discussed in class in order to be studied in view of the final oral exam (all of which may also be read in editions and reprints, on paper or electronic, other than those indicated):

1. Giovanni Boine, Il peccato [Sin, 1914], Rome: Ecra, 2017;

2. Italo Svevo, La coscienza di Zeno [Zeno's conscience, 1923], Milan: Feltrinelli, 2014; Giacomo Debenedetti, some pages from Saggi critici [Critical Essays, 1929-1955], in Saggi, ed. by Alfonso Berardinelli, Milan: Mondadori, 1998;

3. Giorgio Vigolo, La Virgilia [The Virgilia, 1922-1982], in Roma fantastica, Milan: Bompiani, 2013; Alberto Savinio, some pages, available on the "Virtuale" web site, from Scatola sonora [The Sound Box, 1955], Milan: Il Saggiatore, 2017;

4. Italo Calvino, Sotto il sole giaguaro [Under the Jaguar Sun, posth., 1986], Milan: Mondadori, 2017; as an alternative: Cesare Pavese, Dialoghi con Leucò [Dialogues with Leucò, 1947], Turin: Einaudi, 2020, and Feria d'agosto [August Break, 1946], Turin: Einaudi, 2017 [section La vigna, The Vineyard, only];

5. Vitaliano Trevisan, Un mondo meraviglioso. Uno standard [A Wonderful World. A Standard, 1997], Turin: Einaudi, 2003;

6. two works chosen from the following: Gabriella Ghermandi, Regina di fiori e di perle [Queen of Flowers and Pearls, 2007], Rome: Donzelli, 2021; Tiziano Scarpa, Stabat Mater [Stabat Mater, 2008], Turin: Einaudi, 2010; Andrea Tarabbia, Madrigale senza suono [Madrigale without Sound], Turin: Bollati Boringhieri,  2019; Paola Capriolo, Marie e il signor Mahler [Marie and Mr. Mahler], Milan: Bompiani, 2019.

The critical reading of the texts will be accompanied by the study of some volumes and articles (being updated), available on the "Virtuale" platform.

Non-attending students will read:

Giacomo Debenedetti, Il romanzo del Novecento [The Novel of the Twentieth Century], Milan: La Nave di Teseo, 2019 [also in other editions or reprints; to read the part entitled La nascita del romanzo [The Birth of the Novel] and chapters I-IX, from La nostra data di partenza [Our Date of Departure] to Alcuni aspetti del romanzo [Some Aspects of the Novel].

All information will be provided to students enrolled in the course on the "Virtuale" platform.

Teaching methods

Traditional lectures with a strong interaction between students and teacher.

Assessment methods

For the 6 credits option see above, "Course contents".

For 12 credits, the final exam consists of an oral appointment, which aims to verify some methodological, personally developed skills. It focuses on the main theoretical matters approached throughout the class, and verifies the knowledge of the texts and essays that have been the subject of a common consideration throughout the class. Students could be invited to read and comment some samples using an original approach from a critically well-based point of view.

A positive or excellent score (27 to 30/30, even with distinction) corresponds to a full mastering of technical, theoretical, historical and typological sources, to the ability to make connections among single parts of the course contents, and to show awareness of textual features with an appropriate language; an average score (23 to 26/30) goes to students who reveal some lacks in one or more topics or analytical proofs, or are able to use barely mechanically their abilities; a pass or low score (18 to 22/30) to students with severe lacks in one or more topics or exercises, or with inaccuracies while using notions or approaching samples. A negative score is assigned to students who are not able to demonstrate any knowledge of the basic notions required.

Examination sessions take place monthly. No sessions in August. Please sign up at the AlmaEsami web site. The registration time ends two days before the oral examination.

Teaching tools

Excerpts from texts and criticism in digital scans.

Office hours

See the website of Stefano Colangelo

See the website of Riccardo Gasperina Geroni