INTL 399: Comparative European Literature
Siena Italian Studies Program
Total Contact Hours: 45
The course seeks to provide the student with knowledge of comparative literature that will allow
him/her to read and interpret a poetic, narrative or nonfiction passage, comparing it to other
readings, to which it is related linguistically or thematically, for poetic analogy or method. Another
objective of the course is to offer various general guidelines of comparative literature through
textual practice, such as: modes and forms of comparison, relationships between language and
themes, forms, composites, imitation, translation, interpretive styles and relationships between
different languages and cultures. Some fundamental authors of Italian, German, English, French
and Spanish literature will be considered, with the goal to observe corresponding American
productions that touch upon similar themes and genres. Students should improve their
knowledge, not only of the authors discussed and of their works, but above all will develop
linguistic-literary competence, strengthening analytical skills while comparing the synthesis of the
literary works.
The course will be divided into two parts:
In the first part, the characteristic of the literary genres (romance, story, poetry) and the peculiar
linguistic characteristics of each genre (rhetorical figures), proposing analyses of literary
passages of authors to evaluate the progressive knowledge of the students and to improve their
textual and linguistic skills.
The second part of the course will analyze various Italian and European literary passages, similar
in theme and formal composition. In addition, the course will explore eventual research and
comparisons with American literary works
Evaluation Criteria:
During the course, students will read literary passages selected by the instructor, research each
author’s bibliography, propose their own thematic and linguistic interpretation of the works, and
present one or more authors that they are familiar with that relate to the analyzed works.
Students will complete a mid-term exam and present a final paper in which they will demonstrate
their skills of textual analysis and literary comparison.
Class Participation (reading texts, analyzing texts, introducing biographies,
proposing literature analysis): 30%
Midterm Exam: 30%
Final Paper 8-10 pages: 40%
Required Materials: Course readings will be provided by the instructor.
Program and Topics:
The following topics will be presented and discussed:
From the First to Second World War
The European Situation after WWI; The Affirmation of Fascism; The birth of
Nazism; The Principal Tendencies in Art; The Avant-Garde Movements (futurism,
expressionism and surrealism);
Discomfort in Life and Literature: Europe’s Identity Crisis, rejection of the
world, lack of values, the loss of reality.
- British and American Poetry: T.S. Elliot (The Wasteland); J. Joyce (Ulysses, Part
II, First Episode); Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway, Chapter 1); E. Hemingway (The First Forty
Nine Stories, select paragraphs); E. Lee Masters (Spoon River Anthology, select
- French Philosophical Treatise: J.P. Sartre (La nausée, select paragraphs)
- French Novel: A. Camus (L’Étranger, select paragraphs)
- Italian Poetry: U. Saba (Canzoniere, select poems); S. Quasimodo (Ed è
subito sera), E. Montale (Le occasioni, all of the poems)
- Italian Novels and Stories: A. Moravia (Gli indifferenti, chapters. VII, XV), D.
Buzzati (Sessanta racconti), I. Svevo (La cosienza di Zeno, select paragraphs)
- Italian Theater: L. Pirandello (Enrico IV, Sei personaggi in cerca
d’autore, select paragraphs)
- German Theater: B. Brecht (Die Dreigroschenoper, select paragraphs)
- Spanish Poetry: F. Garcìa Lorca (Romancero Gitano, Poema del cante
AA. VV., (1999) Moduli di letteratura italiana e straniera, ed. Laterza, Bari-Roma. AA. VV.,
(2009) Letteratura come dialogo, ed. Palumbo, Palermo, vol. 3.
Banfi E., (2004) Lingue d’Europa, ed. Carocci, Roma.
Guglielmino S., (1999) Letterature straniere, ed. Principato, Milano.
Santagata M., M. Travoni, (2009) I tre libri di letteratura, ed. Laterza, Bari-Roma, vol.3.

INTL 399- Comparative European Literature Syllabus