Good knowledge of English. Good knowledge of American literature.
At the end of the course the students will have acquired a sound knowledge of the main aspects of the culture and literature of the United States in a transnational perspective. Students will also reach a good of knowledge of the American critical movements of the 20th century.
The first part of the course (Prof. Anna De Biasio) offers an introduction to the American Bildungsroman as a critical problem, through the reading of four celebrated 20th-century novels centered on young protagonists. We will first look at canonical and transnational definitions of the Bildungsroman, then we will take into account a number of US incarnations of the genre in a diachronic perspective: "The Catcher in the Rye" (1951) by J. D. Salinger, "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1960) by Harper Lee, "The Bluest Eye" (1970) by Tony Morrison, and "The House on Mango Street" (1984) by Sandra Cisneros. An in-depth focus on the selected works will enable us to put the critical tools to the test of the actual fictional worlds. Special attention will be paid to the way in which questions related to national identity, class, gender, and ethnicity may influence the content and form of coming-of-age narratives.
The second part of the course (Prof. Stefano Rosso) offers an introduction to the major themes and techniques of American Drama of the 19th and 20th centuries. The focus will be on the following plays: 1. Tennessee Williams, "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1947); 2. Arthur Miller, "Death of a Salesman" (1949); 3. Sam Shepard, "True West" (1971). Reference will be made to other playwrights (here in chronological order), such as Eugene O’Neill, Loraine Hansberry, Edward Albee, David Rabe and David Mamet, and to some movie adaptations. Students may prepare a 15-20 minute oral presentation on a play different from the 3 plays (by Williams, Miller and Shepard) mentioned above.
Lectures (in English). Use of power point slides. An active participation on the part of students is strongly encouraged. Students can replace part of the program with oral presentations in English, in class and/or through papers.
The final exam will be written and will consist of 1) a short contextualization of a passage from one of the primary sources (concerning the part on the Bildungsroman); 2) an extended critical commentary on the topics discussed during the course (concerning the part on the Bidungsroman); 3) a shorter critical commentary (compared to that required for the Bildungsroman part) concerning the part on American Drama.
The quality of the written language used (grammatical and lexical correctness, fluency, rhetorical effectiveness) will be a significant element of the overall evaluation.
a. Outstanding (30 e lode ): excellent knowledge of all of the contents of the course. Excellent ability to analyze the texts and to contextualize them in an appropriate way. The student uses the academic writing register/style with appropriate linguistic terminologies.
b. Very good (30 to 27): very good knowledge of all of the contents of the course. Very good ability to analyze the texts and to contextualize them in an appropriate way.
c. Good (26-24): Good knowledge of the contents of the course. Adequate ability to describe the texts. The language used is simple but correct.
d. Fair/sufficient (23-18): The work has sufficient knowledge, coherence, use of appropriate resources and quality of presentation to warrant a basic pass. The ability to analyze the texts is not wholly satisfactory. The language used is very descriptive and at times faulty.
e. Fail (below 18): The student demonstrates only a basic awareness of the contents of the course. The work is frequently confused and inconsistent. Both the text identification and the essay contain inaccuracies and major errors.
Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus students should inform the instructor of their enrollment in the course by sending her/him an e-mail before classes begin (firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com).
In case the course is delivered in the dual/blended or online mode, what has been stated in the syllabus is liable to change in order to make both the classes and the exams suitable in a non face-to-face environment.
For a complete list of the required readings (primary and secondary sources), students must carefully read the course bibliography in LEGANTO.