Scheda insegnamento

  • Docente Marco Petrelli

  • Crediti formativi 9

  • SSD L-LIN/11

  • Lingua di insegnamento Inglese

  • Campus di Bologna

  • Corso Laurea in Lingue e letterature straniere (cod. 0979)

  • Orario delle lezioni dal 07/02/2022 al 09/05/2022

Anno Accademico 2021/2022

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

Al termine del corso lo studente conosce in maniera soddisfacente le problematiche generali e singoli aspetti della storia della letteratura. E' in grado di comprendere e tradurre testi in lingua originale, ha acquisito le conoscenze teoriche di base necessarie per poter affrontare l'interpretazione critica dei loro contenuti ed è in grado di commentare e esporre testi secondo metodologie specifiche per l'analisi del testo letterario.



The course is an introduction to the literature of the U.S. written in English, with a special focus on identity issues and the perception of a "national" literature. Classic and funding texts will be cross read to outline the symbolic and mythological patterns that have consolidated American realities in the first half of the 20th century. 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. Literature is also used as a tool to connect the past and the present, showing how contemporary cultural preoccupations can be traced back to the first half of the 20th century.

These are some of the topics that we will address in class:

  • The Americanization of America
  • American Modernism
  • 1920s: The Jazz Age and the Lost Generation
  • 1920s: The Harlem Renaissance
  • 1920s-1930s: The Southern Renascence
  • 1930s: Literature in/of the New Deal
  • Women writers between the wars (and beyond)
  • African American literature in the first half of the 20th century

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 research project “WeTell: Storytelling and Civic Awareness” (https://site.unibo.it/wetell/en ) and in collaboration with the literary portal www.canadausa.net. 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.



I) Bibliography for the Oral Exam

IMPORTANT - All students must know the literary history of the related time. Mandatory Readings (different for UNIBO students and ERASMUS/INTERNATIONAL students) are:


Guido Fink, Mario Maffi, Franco Minganti, Bianca Tarozzi, Storia della letteratura americana (nuova edizione), Firenze: Sansoni, 1991 (1915-1945)


The Columbia Literary History of the United States, New York: Columbia U.P., 1988 (Emory Elliott, General Editor):

Part IV, 1910-1945:

  • Chapter I: “The Emergence of Modernism”; “Literary Scenes and Literary Movements”.
  • Chapter II: “Afro-American Literature”; “Women Writers between the Wars”.
  • Chapter III: “Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein”; “William Faulkner”
  • Chapter IV: "Ezra Pound"; "T.S. Eliot"

IMPORTANT A detailed list of required readings will be compiled during the course. Students who do not attend class are strongly invited to meet the course director before taking the final exam.


II) Bibliography for the Final Essay

To complete the preparation for the final essay, students are able to create and customize their reading list under the supervision of the course director (i.e. the custom reading list must be approved by the course director).

Students are asked to choose:

A) At least 4 texts (novels, poetry collections, short stories collections) by any of the following writers:

Anderson, Sherwood; Berryman, John; Bishop, Elizabeth; Brooks, Gwendolyn; Cather, Willa; Cullen, Countee; Cummings, e.e.; Dos Passos, John; Eliot, T.S.; Hemingway, Ernest; Fante, John; Faulkner, William; Fitzgerald, Francis Scott; Frost, Robert; H.D.; Hammett, Dashiell; Hughes, Langston; Hurston, Zora Neale; Larsen, Nella; Lewis, Sinclair; Lowell, Robert; MacLeish, Archibald; Masters, Edgar Lee; Millay, Edna St. Vincent; Miller, Arthur; Miller Henry; Moore Marianne; Parker Dorothy; Porter, Katherine Anne; Pound Ezra; Runyon Damon; Stein Gertrude; Steinbeck John; Stevens Wallace; Toomer, Jean; Welty, Eudora; West, Nathanael; Williams, Tennessee; Williams, William Carlos; Wolfe, Thomas; Wright, Richard.

B) At least 2 secondary sources (critical essays) consistent with the chosen topic. A list of secondary sources will be uploaded at the beginning of the course, and implemented after each class. However, students can choose any secondary source they deem relevant to their essay.

Students who want to work on texts that are not listed in the official syllabus MUST submit their request to the course director and receive his approval (office hours or per email: marco.petrelli2@unibo.it).

Metodi didattici

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.

Modalità di verifica e valutazione dell'apprendimento

The FINAL EXAM consists of:

A) A short essay (3000-3500 words), in English (to probe the student’s capability to analyze literary texts and question them in relation to the complex and heterogeneous North American realities).

B) Final Oral Exam (to test the student’s knowledge of the literary history of the first half of the XX century) or Class Presentation (for attending students only).

a) Essay (3000-3500 words).

The essay must be in English. Deadlines and instructions will be uploaded on the course IOL page.

Through the essay, students must prove their ability as literary critics in relation to the chosen subject/case study. Students must show: good knowledge of their primary and secondary sources (individual choice); their capability to analyse literary texts in relation to the chosen themes; their original critical approach.

The essay will be evaluated on the basis of: a clear and sound working hypothesis; consistency between the essay structure and the chosen themes; clarity of diction; correct use of the chosen bibliography; essay presentation (outline; footnotes; bibliography, etc.).

b) Final Oral Exam

A brief assessment of the student's knowledge through questions in spoken form

This part of the exam is based on the mandatory readings (here above); it aims to evaluate the student’s knowledge of the history of American literature.

PLEASE NOTICE: students who regularly attend the course can substitute the final oral exam with a class presentation (15 mins max) to be performed alone or in group.

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Traditional and Multimedia tools

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Marco Petrelli