92958 - Literature and the Arts (1) (Lm)

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Beatrice Sica

  • Credits 6

  • SSD L-FIL-LET/11

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Italian Studies, European Literary Cultures, Linguistics (cod. 9220)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale

  • Course Timetable from Sep 20, 2021 to Oct 27, 2021


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

Quality education Gender equality

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Art and literature can be seen weaving around each other, influencing one and another, and being used as a tool to teach students about liberal arts and humanity. At the end of the course, students will be able to develop a general vision of the relationships between Italian Literature and other Arts, from the nineteenth century to nowadays, with a focus on painting. They will have acquired knowledge on the most relevant works of literature which interact with images and they will be capable of analyzing critical, theoretical and literary texts regarding visual arts.

Course contents

This module explores various ways in which words and images have interacted and shaped Italian culture since the late nineteenth century. While looking at interactions between literature and the arts, the module also introduces students to the following topics and areas to further investigate:

  • Week 1: Self-portraits
  • Week 2: Italian Futurism
  • Week 3: The Avant-Garde
  • Week 4: Italian Fascism
  • Week 5: Resistance
  • Week 6: Connections

Week 1 explores the notion of identity and the representation of the self through words and images; Week 2 focuses on Italian Futurism, while Week 3 addresses avant-garde writing and visual practices more in general; Week 4 looks at words and images as they were used by the Fascist propaganda in Italy in the 1920s and 1930s, addressing in particular the representation of Mussolini on horseback; Week 5 considers literature and the arts as tools for resisting the Fascist ideology; and Week 6 discusses the relationships between words and images from a more theoretical angle.


Below is a list of required (mandatory) readings week by week and class by class. Additional materials, not listed here, will be used and analysed in class; suggested further readings will be indicated in class. All readings and materials will be provided by the module tutor on the “Virtuale” platform, but students are encouraged to visit the library in person whenever possible and use all kinds of resources (not just those available online) to further investigate the topics under discussion and research the topic for their final paper.

Longer readings have been marked with three asterisks (***): students are encouraged to start reading these well in advance, so that they are able to keep up with the topic discussed each week (see in particular Weeks 3 and 5).

Readings should be done for the week and class for which they are indicated (in other words, students should come to that class having done the indicated readings).

Please note that only one mandatory reading has been set for Week 1, but students will be required to engage in small tasks and will be assigned homework to enhance class discussions during that week.


Set readings:


Monday 20 September

Tuesday 21 September

  • Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, “Me,” chapter 17 of An Introduction to Literature, Criticism, and Theory, London, Routledge, 2016, pp. 150-158

Wednesday 22 September



Monday 27 September

  • Guenther Berghaus, “Introduction: The Genesis of Modernism and of the Avant-Garde,” in Theater, Performance, and the Historical Avant-Garde, Palgrave Macmillan 2009, pp. 1-44
  • Luca Somigli, “What Do We Talk about When We Talk about Manifestoes?,” excerpt from “Introduction: The Artist in Modernity,” in Legitimizing the Artist: Manifesto Writing and European Modernism 1885–1915, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003, pp. 21-28

Tuesday 28 September

  • F.T. Marinetti, “Technical Manifesto of Futurist Literature” (1912), in Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Critical Writings, edited by Günter Berghaus, translated by Doug Thompson, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006, pp. 107-119
  • F.T. Marinetti, “Destruction of Syntax – Untrammeled Imagination – Words-in-Freedom” (1913), in Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Critical Writings, edited by Günter Berghaus, translated by Doug Thompson, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006, pp. 120-131

Wednesday 29 September

  • Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini, “Manifesto of the Futurist Painters” (1910) in Futurist Manifestos, edited and with an introduction by Umbro Apollonio, London, Thames and Hudson, 1973, pp. 24-27
  • Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini, “Futurist Painting: Technical Manifesto” (1910), in Futurist Manifestos, edited and with an introduction by Umbro Apollonio, London, Thames and Hudson, 1973, pp. 27-31



Tuesday 5 October

  • Marjorie Perloff, “ ‘Grammar in Use’: Wittgenstein / Gertrude Stein / Marinetti,” in South Central Review, vol. 13, n. 2/3, Futurism and the Avant-Garde Summer-Autumn 1996), pp. 35-62

Wednesday 6 October

  • ONE reading of your choice from Folder 1 on Virtuale

  • ONE reading of your choice from Folder 2 on Virtuale



Monday 11 October

  • Guido Bonsaver, the section “Self-Censorship and Business Deals: Arnoldo Mondadori,” a section of the chapter “Carrots, Sticks, and Charismatic Ruling” in Censorship and Literature in Fascist Italy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), pp. 43-54

Tuesday 12 October

  • Anne Wingenter, “‘Vi saluto romanamente!’. Self-narration and performance in children’s letters to Mussolini”, in History of Education & Children’s Literature, 7:1 (2012), pp. 241-259
  • Paola Bernasconi, “A Fairy Tale Dictator: Children’s Letters to the Duce” in Modern Italy, 18:2 (2013), pp. 129-140

Wednesday 13 October

  • Dennis P. Doordan, “In the Shadow of the Fasces: Political Design in Fascist Italy”, in Design Issues, vol. 13, n. 1, Designing the Modern Experience, 1885-1945, Spring 1997, pp. 39-52



Monday 18 October

  • *** Italo Calvino, Il visconte dimezzato [1952] in Id., Romanzi e racconti, vol. I, edited by Mario Barenghi and Bruno Falcetto, preface by Jean Starobinski, Milan, Mondadori, 1991, pp. 367-444; any English translation (The Cloven Viscount) will do
  • *** Italo Calvino, Il cavaliere inesistente [1959], in Id., Romanzi e racconti, vol. I, edited by Mario Barenghi and Bruno Falcetto, preface by Jean Starobinski, Milan, Mondadori, 1991, pp. 955-1064; any English translation (The Non-Existent Knight) will do

Tuesday 19 October

  • Italo Calvino, “I ritratti del Duce” [1983], in Id., Saggi 1945-1985, vol. II, edited by Mario Barenghi, Milan, Mondadori, 1995, pp. 2878-2891; English translation by Martin McLaughlin, “Il Duce’s Portraits”, in The New Yorker, vol. 78 n. 41 (6 January 2003), pp. 34-39

Wednesday 20 October

  • William M. Reddy, “Emotional Liberty”, chapter 4 of The Navigation of Feeling. A Framework for the History of Emotions, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 112-137 or shorter excerpt provided by the tutor
  • Animation to watch: Giulio Gianini and Emanuele Luzzati, “La gazza ladra” [The Thieving Magpie], based on Gioacchino Rossini’s music (1964): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNIyV2HcM-4
  • Film to Watch: Mario Monicelli, L’armata Brancaleone (1966); Italian version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FCvryqWZ8w with English and Spanish subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUVTwfkQnqM



Monday 25 October

  • Terry Eagleton, “Introduction: What is Literature?”, in Literary Theory. An Introduction, 2nd edition, Minneapolis, The University of Minnesota Press, 1996, pp. 1-14
  • Roland Barthes, “The Rhetoric of the Image,” in Image, Music, Text, essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath (London, FontanaPress, 1977), pp. 32-51

Tuesday 26 October

  • *** Erwin Panofsky, “Iconography and Iconology: An Introduction to the Study of Renaissance Art” part I, in Meaning in the Visual Arts, New York, Anchor Books, 1955, pp. 26-40

  • *** Michael Baxandall, “The Period Eye”, in Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 29-40

Wednesday 27 October

  • Martin Kemp, “Che”, chapter 6 of Christ to Coke. How Image Becomes Icon, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 166-195
  • Andrew Ginger, “Comparative Study and the Nature of Connections: Of the Aesthetic Appreciation of History”, in Modern Languages Open, n. 1, 2018, pp. 1-9

Teaching methods

Classes will consist of a mix of lectures and seminars. Students are required to take part in all class activities, actively contribute to class and group discussions, complete all tasks assigned as homework, and do all the required readings (see above). They will also do a short presentation (max 10 mins) in class in the last week of classes on one topic of their choice; the purpose of this class presentation is to give students an opportunity to decide on a topic early and research it before the module comes to its end. The oral presentation is required but not assessed.

Assessment methods

Students will write a paper of 5 to 6 pages (Arial 12 spaced 1.5; the bibliography should be counted separately), either in English or in Italian, on a topic of their choice to be discussed with and confirmed by the tutor before the end of the module. This paper is valued at 50% of the final mark (with the other 50% coming from the brother module “Literature and the Arts (1) (LM)”. Erasmus students taking only this module but not its brother will write a longer paper (7 to 8 pages) valued at 100% of the final mark.



Please note that this course is part of a curriculum where attendance is mandatory. If you have extenuating circumstances and could not attend the classes for this course, you are required to do the same readings (listed above) and study the same course materials (available on Virtuale) used by attending students. However, before submitting the final paper, you are also required to pass an oral examination, which will last about one hour. The oral examination aims to assess your knowledge of the course materials and will include a short presentation of your planned paper.

Please note that students with extenuating circumstances, who were unable to attend the classes for this course, should contact the course tutor as soon as possible to discuss the syllabus, make arrangements for their oral examination, and agree on a topic and title for their final paper.

Please note: the final mark for non-attending students will come from: oral examination (50%) + final paper (50%).



A pass mark is between 18 and 30. Below are the corresponding marking criteria:



  • The paper has an elegant structure and develops a coherent argument, showing independent research and thinking. Appropriate evidence is presented to support the overall argument; a detailed analysis of particular cases is balanced with a broader discussion of the topic; and a reasoned and convincing conclusion is reached. The paper is written in grammatically correct English or Italian and the style is mature and appropriate to academic writing; the bibliography is extensive and follows standard bibliographic conventions, and the referencing is accurate throughout.


  • The paper has a structure that is not entirely clear and tends towards description rather than analysis, with little critical reflection on the evidence that is being presented. Ideas tend to be stated rather than developed, with some gaps in knowledge. The paper is written in acceptable English or Italian, but there are grammatical and stylistic lapses. The bibliography is not extensive and is not always consistent with referencing. Text shows type errors.


  • The paper has an unclear structure that does not allow the development of a coherent argument. The text is merely descriptive, with no or very little analysis, and may be very repetitive and/or shorter than it is required. The evidence is shown without critical reflection on its significance, ideas are baldly stated, and the knowledge displayed is basic. The language shows various problems of expression, and the text is marred by typographical errors. The referencing is of very poor quality and the bibliography is very thin.


  • The paper has a very unclear structure and no coherent argument. There are serious inaccuracies involving fundamental aspects of the topic. The level of written English or Italian is very poor and impedes understanding. The text is marred with errors and referencing is carelessly presented and/or haphazard and/or made up.

Teaching tools

Lectures will be supported by slides presentations as well as audio and video materials. The “Virtuale” platform will provide an additional tool for teaching.

Office hours

See the website of Beatrice Sica