TEXTUAL CRITICISM AND TRANSMEDIAL STUDIES | Università degli studi di Bergamo - Didattica e Rubrica


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Didattica Convenzionale
Secondo Semestre
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Metodologie linguistiche, filologiche, comparatistiche e della traduzione letteraria


Educational goals

At the end of the course, students will have a basic knowledge of textual criticism and of the variety of ecdotic principles used in printed and digital editions, and will understand the difference between a text in its manuscript form and its presentation to a modern readership. They will also be aware of the general issues inherent in literary translation and in transmedial practices, both in the Middle Ages and in the present time. Finally, they will be introduced to the analysis of Medieval Germanic texts based on scrupulous examination of textual data.

Course content

The course will focus on the following case studies: 1) “The Laocoon group” as an example of the long-running debate on transmediality, as well as of the issues inherent in the reconstruction of the presumed “original”; 2) "Beowulf" in its manuscript form and in a variety of editions (diplomatic, semidiplomatic, critical, digitized vs scholarly digital edition); analysis of lines 709-723 in Old English (cf. the “Electronic Beowulf” ed. by Kiernan, https://ebeowulf.uky.edu/ebeo4.0/CD/main.html) will lead to a discussion of the motives and aims of literary translation and of some transpositions into various media (e.g. film adaptations, graphic novels); 3) "The Dream of the Rood", in its manuscript form (Vercelli Book) as well as in the version carved in runes (along with images) on the Stone Cross at Ruthwel, as an example of transmediality in the Middle Ages, as well as an example of digital projects. Cf. the website “Vercelli Book Digitale”:
http://vbd.humnet.unipi.it/beta2/#doc=DOTR&page=VB_fol_105r), and “The Visionary Cross Project”: http://vcg.isti.cnr.it/activities/visionarycross/
The following texts will be discussed during the course:
- P. Trovato, 2014, “Everything you always wanted to know about Lachmann’s method”, Libreriauniversitaria; also as e-book. Introduction: pp. 39-45; Cap. 1 “Lachmann’s method” pp. 49-75.
- M. Buzzoni / R. Rosselli Del Turco, 2016, “Evolution or Revolution? Digital Philology and Medieval Texts: History of the Discipline and a Survey of Some Italian Projects”, in: “Mittelalterphilologien heute 1: eine Standortbestimmung: die germanische Philologie” herausgegeben von Alessandra Molinari; hg. A. Molinari, Königshausen: pp. 265-294.
- H. Magennis, 2011, Translating Beowulf: modern versions in English verse, Brewer: pp. 1-26.
- J. Niles, 1993, “Rewriting Beowulf: The Task of Translation”. In College English, vol. 55, No, 8: pp. 858-878.
- F. Ferrari, 2017, “Looking at the hero: Beowulf and graphic novels in the 21st Century”. Linguistica e filologia 37: pp.189–202.
- N. Haydock / E.L. Risden, 2013, “Beowulf on film: adaptations and variations”: Introduction and ch. 1, 3, 4, 5.
- Handbook of intermediality: literature - image - sound - music / edited by Gabriele Rippl. De Gruyter, 2015. Introduction pp. 1-23

Teaching methods

The course will consist of lectures in which the students’ direct participation in the discussion (also on the basis of preliminary reading of some of the course texts) will increase gradually. Over the second half of the course, the students, together with the lecturer, may choose a topic to study in greater depth – which they may present orally during classes or submit as a written paper at least one week before the exam.

Assessment and Evaluation

Oral exam. Discussion of the course contents and of the course texts, with the aim to verify the acquisition of both knowledge and critical skills. Discussion of any additional work done by the students on a course topic. To obtain a positive grade, students need to know the different philological methods of text analysis; they must be able to place the texts analyzed during the course in their historical and cultural context, and know the main elements of the bibliographical material. To obtain a highly positive grade, students have to show in-depth knowledge of the case studies analyzed during the course, also on the basis of the bibliographical material. To obtain an excellent grade, students have to show an organic view of the course topics, to be able to link topics, and use sources and bibliographical material.

Further information

Non-attending students may use the website by Giuseppe Brunetti, which contains a grammatical analysis of “Beowulf”:

Should this module be taught blended or online, the Syllabus could be modified in order to let both lessons and examinations achievable in this way.