Italian Literature: an Introduction I

Academic year: 2023-24
Course: Foundation Course Humanities
Credits: 6
Period: first semester

Number of hours: 48

Teacher: Fiammetta Di Lorenzo (

Language of instruction: English

Course Description

This course is designed as a broad introduction to the Italian literature and culture from its origins through the early modern age. We will read texts by Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Ariosto, Tasso, and Machiavelli, to name only a few authors whose influence was crucial not only for the Italian letters, but for the definition of the Western culture overall. At the same time, this course will also trace the origins and development of Italian language, from its Latin roots throughout its social and literary evolution in poetry, novels, political and scientific essays. By combining close reading with a larger historical approach, we will explore the fascinating paradox of Italian literature: that is, an apparently national literature which developed in a fragmentary, regional, not-yet-national environment.

Main Goals

By the end of this course students will be able to contextualize the main Italian authors within the European literary tradition, from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern centuries, and they will be able to use key concepts and terms to analyze literary texts.


  • Class participation: You are expected to actively read all assignments and to contribute meaningfully to classroom discussions.  While attendance is mandatory to obtain a good class grade, your presence alone does not constitute participation.
  • Group Activities on secondary texts: in small groups, you will analyze and discuss small essays by literary scholars on authors and topic related to this course. These activities are meant to be a training on how to write an academic paper.

N.B.: I expect you to contribute to this class with your own ideas. If you borrow a sentence or even an idea rephrased in your own words from any outside source, you need to give credit to that source. The consequences of plagiarism are severe, including failure for the course.


Attendance and Participation             30 %

Final Exam                             70 %


Peter Brand, Lino Pertile, The Cambridge History of the Italian Literature, Cambridge, CUP, 1999.

All other readings will be available in digital version on MS Teams.

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