cod. 1001186

Academic year 2023/24
1° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Letteratura italiana (L-FIL-LET/10)
Attività formative affini o integrative
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

1) Enhancement of the critical-interpretative ability of the literary text.
2) Improvement of the disciplinary lexicon
3) Acquisition of greater flexibility in the approach to the literary text, through the adoption of different interpretative methods and theories.


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Course unit content

"Little town, fucking place": provincial life in italian Literature after the II world war

The course examines the theme of the 'little town' in post-war Italian literature by examining three main areas of work:
a) The province as a place of cultural marginality, inertia and anguish; useful, however, to assuming an important cognitive value, as a tool for the investigation of human condition and his existential dimension.
b) The Italian province as a place to be rediscovered and valued, in order to exploit its potential for the olitical and social renewal of the nation.
c) The 'postmodern' province, as a place that takes on a new dialectical value in the context of the globalized culture of the last two decades of the 20th century.

If on a methodological level the course adopts the tools (actually purely empirical, even if not therefore ineffective) of thematic criticism; it also aims to reflect on the link between literature and society. In other words, to what extent can literary instruments interpret society and its changes? Not by assuming them simply (and obviously) as themes and characters made object of representation, but by entrusting to the cognitive peculiarities of literary narration (its introspective possibilities; the variable dynamics of the point of view; the allusiveness to cultural phenomena; the dialectical relationship between fictional character and real history) the task of understanding aspects of man's social dimension, and of the codes – always regulated by historically changing conventionalities – of his self-representation on the world stage.

Full programme

The course examines, through some exemplary cases, the way in which the province has not only been represented in post-war Italian literature, but above all how it has somehow generated a 'myth'. As a symbol of marginality, of disappointed and frustrated aspirations, of narrow-mindedness (resuming a contrast between the capital and the province, largely nourished by the model of the nineteenth-century French novel), the 'province' was already associated in the years of reconstruction with positive values ​​( place of a new vitality; a space in which energies are brooding that the nation must exploit to build a new society and new values), or assumes a peculiar cognitive value of man and his existential condition. The province can then become (the case of Bassani is exemplary) the privileged place to explore the human condition, inserting the characters in a network of stringent connections, in which the relationship (often conflictual and unresolved) between individual and city is less mediated by demarcations social and cultural structures that structure the different 'social spaces' (much more self-referential and autonomous) of the metropolis.
The course will start from a story by Moravia, La provinciale (1937), which recovers and renews some models of the nineteenth-century naturalist novel (in particular Flaubert).
Some works by Bassani will then be examined: stories taken from the Five Ferrarese stories (1956) and The Golden Glasses (1958).
In the context of the more explicitly political dimension of the 'province' as the place of a possible revolution from below, capable of profoundly renewing the country by exalting its best energies, the reading of a small masterpiece such as Il lavoro cultura (1957) by Luciano Bianciardi is inserted : an ironic and disenchanted reinterpretation of the illusions of many post-war leftist intellectuals.
The province takes on a new and disruptive existential value in a fully postmodern narrator like Per Vittorio Tondelli, from Altri libertini(1980) to Rimini (1985). Expression of an 'Emilian' narrative (songs and stories by Celati, Palandri, Guccini will also be suggested) which assumes the province as a dialectical element not already with respect to a capital, but to the global pervasiveness of the postmodern (which mixes the new geographies with equal aplomb globalized and the cultural models and myths of different eras).


The complete bibliography of the course (literary texts and critical works) will be provided during the course, and posted on the Elly portal, together with a significant part of the non-fiction and literature in the program.
The following texts will not be made available on the Elly platform, which must be widely read by the students:

Bassani, Gli occhiali d’oro
Idem, Le cinque storie ferraresi
L. Bianciardi, Il lavoro culturale
P. V. Tondelli, Altri libertini
G. Celati, Narratori delle pianure

Non-attending students must bring an additional critical text, which will be agreed with the teacher.

Teaching methods

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Assessment methods and criteria

The final assessment consists of an oral exam, in which the knowledge of the topics covered in class (and of the assigned critical bibliography) will be tested; connection skills will be evaluated, as well as expository clarity and the ability to deepen the topics addressed

Other information

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