02609 - Contemporary Italian Literature (A-F)

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 Sustainable cities

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course the student: has a non-abstract and non-manualistic awareness of the main lines of development of Italian literary culture from National Unity to the present day; knows how to apply appropriate methods of analysis to the literary text in prose and verse, distinguishing its relations with different linguistic, artistic and cultural traditions; is able to read the literary text as an open form, in dialogue with the ideological and social horizon of his time, against the background of the wider European context.

Course contents

True and Missed Double Talent

This course addresses the concept of 'double talent' in Italian literature from the second half of the twentieth century to the present day, considering authors who in their production have demonstrated a dual tension towards narrative writing and the visual arts. In some cases, the dual talent was concretely realised and we can speak of "artist writers"; in other cases, however, the dual talent is manifested as a tension of writing towards drawing and painting without actually materialising. In particular, the analysis focuses on literary works in which the correlation between narrative imagination and artistic creativity clearly emerges: one of these works draws on the author's autobiographical experience as a writer and artist (in the case of Carlo Levi); others testify to the artistic passion of authors who do not possess specific skills in the graphic arts (in the cases of Alberto Moravia, Vincenzo Consolo and Luigi Malerba); others still emerge as true icon-texts (as in Dino Buzzati and Tommaso Pincio).


The topics addressed during the course are: 1) the concept of dual talent 2) the relationship between literature and the visual arts 3) ekphrasis, i.e. the different ways of verbally describing a picture 4) the characteristics of iconotestual forms 5) the question of the gaze in literature.


The students have to read the following books:


Literary works:

  • Carlo Levi, Cristo si è fermato a Eboli, Einaudi, 1945 (now Einaudi 2014)
  • Alberto Moravia, La noia, Bompiani, 1960 (now Bompiani 2017)
  • Dino Buzzati, Poema a fumetti, Mondadori, 1969 (or new editions)
  • Vincenzo Consolo, Retablo, Sellerio, 1987 (or new editions)
  • Luigi Malerba, Le pietre volanti, Mondadori, 1992 (or new editions)
  • Tommaso Pincio, Hotel a zero stelle, Laterza, 2011

Critical essays:

  • Michele Cometa, La scrittura delle immagini, Milano, Raffaello Cortina, 2012 (Only Chapter 1, pp. 11-166)
  • Filippo Milani, Il pittore come personaggio. Itinerari nella narrativa italiana contemporanea, Carocci, 2020.
  • All the documents uploaded on VIRTUALE

Non-attending students add:

  • Cento anni di letteratura italiana 1910-2010, a cura di Marco A. Bazzocchi, Einaudi, 2021 (Parte Quarta only)

Teaching methods

Lessons, class discussion, active participation in class, videos, power points, movies.

Assessment methods

The written test consists - only for non-italian students - in a paper (8-10 pages) about one or more arguments of the course. The paper must be previuosly approved by the teacher and must be send with an e-mail attachment at least a week before the oral test.

The oral test consists in an oral interview to evaluating the critical and methodological ability of the students. The studentwill be invited to discuss the scheduled books. The student must demonstrate an appropriate knowledge of the bibliography.

Students that have to take 6 CFU exam will arrange only the program of Modulo I or Modulo II and critical essays.

Assessment consists in an examination aiming to assess the knowledge and critical skills acquired by the candidate during the course.

1. First-class marks will be awarded to candidates who demonstrate an ability to analyse texts in depth and to produce an organic overview of the topics covered in the course. Overall mark between 27 and 30 cum laude (high linguistic ability is required).

2. A mostly mnemonic knowledge of the subject, analytical skills lacking depth, and correct but not always apposite expression will result in a modest mark. Overall mark between 23 and 26.

3. Elementary knowledge, superficial understanding, poor analytical skills, and inapposite expression will lead to a pass or only slightly higher mark. Overall mark between 18 and 22.

4. Gaps in the candidate’s knowledge, inapposite language, and inadequate engagement with the secondary literature offered in the course will result in a fail mark.

Teaching tools

In addition to lectures, held by the teacher, audiovisual tools will be used to support the teaching. Students will also be invited to bring a significant contribution to enreach the issues upon which the course focuses.

Office hours

See the website of Filippo Milani