Italian Literature: an Introduction

Italian Literature I (first term)

The course aims to provide an introduction and a broad overview of the Italian literature and culture, specifically focusing on authors – ranging from the Middle Ages to the XVIII century–who had a huge influence on Western literature, e.g. Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Ariosto, Galileo, Goldoni. A selection of texts will be analyzed (in translation) using the key concepts of literary analysis.

Italian Literature II (second term)

The course aims to provide an introduction and a broad overview of the Italian literature and culture from XVIII to XX century. After a focus on Romantic writers (Foscolo, Leopardi, Manzoni), we will analyze different expressions of literature in United Italy (Carducci, Pascoli, D’Annunzio, Verga, Collodi, Deledda, Pirandello).


No prerequisites are required for this course.

Teaching methods

Historical cultural background lessons will alternate with special focuses on main authors and text analysis.


Italian Literature I (first term)

  1. General introduction : from Latin to Italian (2 lessons)
  2. Palermo : Sicilian School (1 lesson)
  3. Venice : Marco Polo’s Il Milione (1 lesson)
  4. Florence1 : dolce stil novo and introduction to Dante (1 lesson)
  5. Florence2 : Dante (2 lessons)
  6. Florence3 : Boccaccio (2 lessons)
  7. A new European intellectual and his influence : Petrarca (1 lesson)
  8. Back to Florence : Machiavelli (2 lessons)
  9. Renaissance Ferrara1 : Ariosto (1 lesson)
  10. Renaissance Ferrara2 : from Ariosto to Tasso (1 lesson)
  11. Pisa : Galileo (2 lessons)
  12. Back to Venice : Goldoni’s theatre (1 lesson)

Italian Literature II (second term)

  1. The Romantic Controversy Ugo Foscolo (1 lesson), Giacomo Leopardi
    (2 lessons); Alessandro Manzoni (2 lessons)
  2. The Literature of United Italy Poetry : Carducci, Pascoli, D’Annunzio (1 lesson); Prose : Verga, Collodi, Deledda (1 lesson); Focus on: Luigi Pirandello (1 lesson)
  3. The Rise and Fall of Fascism Poetry and the Avantgarde: Saba, Ungaretti, Montale (2 lessons); Philosophy and Literature from Croce to Gramsci (1 lesson); Novel: Svevo, Tozzi, Gadda (1 lesson)
  4. Aftermath of the Second World War Poets and History from Neorealism to Pasolini (1 lesson); Primo Levi (1 lesson); Italo Calvino (1 lesson); Leonardo Sciascia (1 lesson)


  • Peter Brand, Lino Pertile, The Cambridge History of the Italian Literature, Cambridge, CUP, 1999 [Revised edition]
  • Students will be provided with a selection of literary texts (in English, with the corresponding Italian text), and with other further materials such as critical readings and maps. All these materials will be available on MOODLE (e-learning Unipi).

Assessment methods

Italian Literature I (first term)

Final paper (5000 words with footnotes, excluding the bibliography).

Italian Literature II (second term)

Mid exam (written exams on the authors/texts from the first part of the course, 50% of the final grade); final oral exam.