Italian Literature: an Introduction I

Academic year: 2022-23
Course: Foundation Course Humanities
Credits: 6
Period: first semester

Number of hours: 48

Teacher: Fiammetta Di Lorenzo (

Language of instruction: English

Learning outcomes


This course is designed as a broad introduction to the Italian literature and culture from its origins through the early modern age. Students will read texts by Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Ariosto, 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. 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.

Assessment criteria of knowledge

Students will demonstrate their knowledge of the course topics in a written paper and in a follow-up discussion of it.


Students will be able to historically contextualize the main Italian Medieval and Early Modern authors, and they will get familiar with key concepts and literary terms useful to analyze their texts. Such a basic knowledge should enable them to pursue their studies in the Humanities.

Assessment criteria of skills

Throughout the course, students will have to discuss texts and literary topics both in written comments and in class meetings.


Students are expected to actively read all assigned readings before each lesson, and to contribute meaningfully to classroom discussions. While attendance is necessary to obtain a good class grade, presence alone does not constitute participation.


No prerequisites are required for this course.


Class 1: Introduction: From Latin to Italian

Class 2: The earliest evidence. Poetry

            St. Francis, Song of Creatures.

Class 3: The Sicilian School. Selected texts. 

Class 4: Dolce Stil Novo

Class 5: Cavalcanti, Selected poems

Class 6: Dante’s Dreams. Vita nuova, excerpts

Class 7: Dante’s Divina Commedia, Introduction.

            Dante’s Inferno, Canto 1

Class 8: Inferno, Cantos 3 & 4           

Class 9: Inferno, cantos 5 & 10

Class 10: Inferno, cantos 26 & 33

Class 11: Petrarch, Canzoniere. Selected poems.

Class 12: Boccaccio’s Decameron. Introduction: Florence 1348.

Class 13: Boccaccio’s Decameron. Selected novellas.

Class 14: Ariosto. Orlando furioso. Introduction and Canto I.

Class 15: Ariosto. Orlando furioso. Excerpts.

Class 16: The Prince and the Courtier: Machiavelli and Castiglione

Class 17: Machiavelli, The Mandrake

Class 18: Machiavelli, The Mandrake and the Italian comedy.


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.

Assessment methods

Attendance and Participation            25 %

Final Paper and oral follow-up          75 %

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