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CODE 101948
SEMESTER 1° Semester


In the textbooks, the problems are arranged in a neat order. Some problems require an equation with a single unknown, others, subsequently, require a second-degree one. The solutions are found at the end, in columns: 4835) 5 sheep. 4836) 17 taps. 4837) 13 days. 4838) 1000 herring. .. Woe to beginning the study of mathematics directly from the "solutions" and trying to find meaning in this accurate column. The problems and their development matter, not their solutions. Scholars interested in the ideas, in the conclusions, not in the structure of the works of art, are like those pupils who, wanting to study mathematics, study the column of answers. Viktor Shklovsky



The discipline's primary aim is to prepare students for the development of a personal, historically competent, and epistemologically aware thought in relation to some specific, fundamental problems in the humanities field: the complex and diachronically changing notion of literature, the non-linear relationship between theory and literary practice, the functions and main methodologies of criticism, such as reading models, analysis, and interpretation. The comparison of texts from different languages, cultures, and semiotic systems defines, from this perspective, a privileged tool for the exercise of methodological reflection in its comparative dimension.


At the end of the course the students will be able to


• know the main critical methodologies developed to define the status of the literary phenomenon in its complex richness and develop models of possible relationships (historical, ideological and morphological) among literary texts of different origins, languages ​​and poetics, in comparison with each other and with other systems semiotics (iconic and musical)

• apply the different methodologies to the concrete practice of analyzing the literary text, knowing how to evaluate the specific scope of the critical model applicative choice

• express the salient characteristics of a literary text in a full awareness of the critical language, developed by the main methodologies (from ancient rhetoric to linguistics, from narratology to gender studies), thus increasing one's abilities for abstract reflection and argumentative ability, sensitive to contexts

• demonstrate the historical awareness of the deep historical relationships between the texts of the Western tradition, both from a thematic and morphological point of view, proposing personal paths of interpretation of the most contemporary literary phenomena in the critical comparison with their past models


The teaching consists in 60 hours of lessons. The teaching method provides for a close and continuous interconnection between frontal lessons (in the presentation of analytical methodologies and synoptic historiographic frameworks) and participatory activity of students (theoretical models’ critical discussion of analytic practice on texts). Active participation in lessons is very important for the full achievement of the learning objectives.


Obruta Verba. The Secret of the Stories

King Midas' barber, in Ovid's Metamorphoses, discovered how is hard for words to keep a secret. At the same time, the play between words and secrets is a fundamental discovery of modern narrations with their seductive incomplete, elliptical, reticent structures. Short stories, in their compact and cohesive form, demonstrate the different epistemic and affective effects that the pressure of the unsaid can exert on what is said. The course aims to analyze and compare some of the most significant literary texts, from Kleist to Ortese, from James to Tabucchi, from Onetti to Kristof, which meaning is based on the irresolvable tension between avoidance and allusion.


1. General handbooks

Stefania Sini, Franca Sinopoli, Percorsi di teoria e comparatistica letteraria, Pearson 2021

de Cristofaro, Letterature Comparate, Carocci 2020


2. Theoretical and Critical Texts

Max Kommerell Die Sprache und das Unaussperchiche, 1940 [Il poeta e l’indicibile, Giometti & Antonello, 2020

Paul Ricoeur, De l’interprétation: Essai sur Freud, Seuil, 1965

Algirdas Greimas, Du Sens, 1970 [Del Senso, Sossella 2017]

Tzvetan Todorov La poétique de la prose, 1971 [Poetica della prosa, Bompiani 1995]

Louis Marin, Lectures traversières, Albin Michel 1992

Michel de Certeau La Fable Mystique, 1982 [Fabula mistica, Jaca Book; 2017]

Deleuze, Le Pli, 1988 [La piega, Einaudi 2004]

Ricardo Piglia, Teoria della prosa, Wojtek 2021

Nicola Gardini, Lacuna. Saggio sul non detto, Einaudi 2014


3. Fictional Texts:  

Juan Benet, En region. Cuentos completes, Debolsillo 2016

Raymond Carver, Stories [Principianti, Einaudi 2014]

Julio Cortázar, Cuentos [I racconti, Einaudi 2014]

Nathanael Hawthorne, Twice-Told Tales [Racconti narrati due volte, Garzanti 2007]

Henry James Short stories [Il carteggio di Aspern e altri racconti, Garzanti 2019]

Frank Kafka, Tutti i romanzi, tutti i racconti e i testi pubblicati in vita [con testo a fronte], Bompiani 2023

Heinrich von Kleist Die Marquise von * [La marchesa di O e altri racconti, Garzanti 2004;

Opere, Mondadori Meridiani 2011]

Agota Kristof, C'est égal, 2005 [La vendetta, Einaudi 2017]

Clarice Lispector, Contos [Tutti i racconti, Feltrinelli 2019]

Katherine Mansfield, Short stories [Racconti, Rizzoli 2023]

Herman Melville, Bartleby [Bartleby lo scrivano, Feltrinelli 2015]

Juan Carlos Onetti, Cuentos completes, Debolsillo 2016

Alice Munro, Stories [Mobili di famiglia, Einaudi 2016]

Anna Maria Ortese, Angelici dolori, Adelphi 2006

Antonio Tabucchi, Racconti, Feltrinelli 2006

Juan José Saer, Cuentos completos 1957-2000, El aleph 2001

*There is no specific bibliography for non attending  students


Exam Board





In the third week of September. 



The exam consists of (a) a written and (b) an oral part.

(a) a paper of a length appropriate to the chosen topic, previously agreed and discussed with the teacher, presented in its final form at least one week before the exam. One of the methodological approaches addressed during the course (to be chosen from the theoretical texts of section 2 of the Bibliography) will have to be applied, in a critical and personal way, to detect, describe and interpret the salient features of at least one of the literary texts of section 3 of the Bibliography (for the 6 credits; also adding one of the orientation essays in section 2bis. for the 9 credits).

(b) a critical discussion of the written paper, placing the chosen methodological approach in the context of the main analytical methodologies of the twentieth century (detailed with the help of one of the manuals indicated in section 1 of the Bibliography).


The evaluation of the written paper will consider:

• the terminological property of the analysis [elocutio]

• the understanding of the critical model and the ability to personal re-elaboration of the studied contents [inventio]

• the formal organization [dispositio] in the presentation of the research results

• the effectiveness of the application of an analytical model to the reading of the literary text, in identifying its salient features (morphological, historical and content)

The evaluation of the oral discussion will consider:

• general knowledge of the contents of the discipline

• the degree of personal critical re-elaboration of the contents

• the ability for abstract reflection and argumentative ability, sensitive to the contexts of discourse

• the awareness of the essential historical relationships among the texts

Exam schedule

Data appello Orario Luogo Degree type Note
18/12/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
15/01/2024 09:00 GENOVA Orale
12/02/2024 09:00 GENOVA Orale
27/05/2024 09:00 GENOVA Orale
10/06/2024 09:00 GENOVA Orale
15/07/2024 09:00 GENOVA Orale
13/09/2024 09:00 GENOVA Orale


All the students should contact the teacher (+39 345 455 8112)  in order to define their personal program related to their interests and curricula.