Graduate Courses, Spring 2002

Italian 534
Women in Poetry:
From the Troubadours to the Petrarchans

Prof. Kirkham
W 2-4

This course presents both poetry by women and about women, following in its first half the Romance lyric tradition from the 12th-century Provençal Troubadours and their female counterparts, the Trobairitz, into the Sicilian School of the Duecento, the Tuscan Dolce Stil Novo, Dante's early "Stony Rhymes," and Petrarch's 14th-century love poetry. The second half of the course will be devoted to Renaissance lyric, when Petrarchism becomes a European fashion, producing numerous polyvocal anthologies. We shall consider how Petrarch's "Scattered Rhymes" undergo a transformation into Petrarchismo, why this literary mode makes possible a flowering of poetry by women, how the women adapt a first-person male lyric voice to their own purposes (as maiden, wife, widow, courtesan), and how they gain acceptance by the male establishment (e.g., Bembo, Della Casa, Michelangelo, Varchi, Bronzino, Cellini) in the art of poetry as "epistolary" exchange, or dialogue, linking members of a cultural community. Our female authors will include Vittoria Colonna, Chiara Matraini, Tullia d'Aragona, Isabella di Morra, Gaspara Stampa, Veronica Franco, and Laura Battiferra degli Ammannati. Their varying critical reception will raise larger questions: how do women enter a national literary history? Is their presence less stable than that of male authors? Do all-female canons reflect lines of literary influence or are they a kind of virtual matroneum that segregates and diminishes the female voice?

Cross-listed as Comp. Lit. 534 and Women's Studies 534. Course conducted in English. Reading knowledge of Italian required. Undergraduates by permission.

Italian 570
Romanticism in Italy, 1789-1914

Prof. Luzzi
M 2-4

As late as 1815, Italy was thought to be a mere "geographical expression." However, for over two millennia, inhabitants throughout the Italian Peninsula shared many common cultural practices and collective memories, even though they lacked a unified country until only recently (1861). This course will explore the dramatic relationship between the quest for Italian Unification and the Romantic movement in Italy. We will consider how the eccentric and ambivalent nature of Italian Romanticism--one influential critic claimed "il romanticismo italiano non esiste"--derived from the fact that many Italian writers of the late 1700s and 1800s were unable to reconcile their conflicting desires for aesthetic autonomy and sociopolitical engagement. We will also examine how the reception of "Romantic Italy" influenced the course of Italian national identity-formation and literary and cultural practices in the period between Unification and World Wars I and II. Among the works and issues we will study are Alfieri's critique of the French Enlightenment in the name of Italian culture, Melchiorre Gioia's prize-winning essay on Italian unity during the Napoleonic invasion of 1796, the flood of Romantic manifestoes occasioned by Madame de Staël's essay on translation in 1816, Manzoni's eschewal of poetry in the name of Italian history in On the Historical Novel (1850), the emergence of the politicized Poeta-Vate (poet-prophet) in D'Annunzio and Carducci, and the critique of Romantic Italy in the Futurist manifestos (c. 1900-1910) of Marinetti and then later in Fascist cultural discourse.


1. V. Alfieri, The Prince and Letters
2. M. Gioia (essay)
3. U. Foscolo, Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis
4. G. Leopardi, Poetry (selections)
5. A. Manzoni, On the Historical Novel
6. M. de Staël, "On Translation"
7. Manifesti romantici (Borsieri, DI Breme, Berchet)
8. S. Pellico, My Prisons
9. G. Mazzini, On the Duties of Man
10. I. Nievo, Confessioni Di un Italiano (selections)
11. G. D'Annunzio (selections)
12. G. Carducci (selections)
13. Futurist manifestos (Marinetti et al.)
Also: writings on Italy by J. W. Goethe, Germaine de Staël, P. B. Shelley, Stendhal, and other European travelers in/commentators on Italy.

Italian 575
Italian Historical Novel After 1950

Prof. Geerts
T 2-4

Italy witnesses a marked blossoming of historical narrative in the second half of the twentieth century. Numerous influential novels and short stories are published with different proportions of fiction and history. As is so often the case for historical fiction, the contemporary reference prevails over history as such. The kind of outlook may vary but the viewpoint is often political, ideological, or social. This course will illustrate and explain the different viewpoints in question with respect to some major texts. In chronological order: Beppe Fenoglio, I ventitré giorni della città Di Alba ('52) and the carnevalesco glance on Italian Resistance in W.W. II.; Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa, Il Gattopardo ('58), disenchanted chronicle of Risorgimento; Leonardo Sciascia, IlConsiglio d'Egitto ('62) or the end of Enlightenment's Utopia; Giorgio Bassani, Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini ('62), chronicle of an idyllic Ferrara dragged along by racial laws; Elsa Morante, La Storia ('74) or "history" from the point of view of the vulnerable; Vincenzo Consolo, Ilsorriso dell'ignoto marinaio ('76), or Gattopardo revisited, symbolically and linguistically; Sebastiano Vassalli, La Chimera ('90), or witchhunt and power in the Po valley of the Seicento, with a neo-manzonian looking glass.