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CODE 65179


The course is part of the Basic Learning Activities for the Degree Course of History (literary and historical-artistic disciplines), and bestows 12 credits, corresponding to 80 hours of classroom teaching and about 220 hours reserved for personal study. It introduces the student to the study of major authors, most significant works, main poetics, and most relevant cultural movements of Italian Literature history, from its origins to the twentieth century.



Aim of the course is acquiring the following skills, knowledge and competences: knowing Italian literature in its evolution with particular attention to its relationship with history and with national and international culture; gaining a method of critical reading of the texts of Italian literature, knowing how to use the basic bibliographic tools and the most common online resources; knowing how to recognize in a personal way the value of a text of Italian literature within the poetics of its author and within a historical, artistic and cultural context.​


The teaching aims to illustrate (in a critical-historical perspective) a selection of significant works and authors of Italian literature, providing students with the methodological tools to understand the poetic language and to analyze a literary text and its metric-stylistic elements.

At the end of the course the student will be able to:

a) recognize and present the most important moments of the Italian literary tradition

b) interpret, paraphrase and analyse literary texts in poetry and prose, recognising their structural aspects (genre, metric form, rhetorical apparatus) and linking them to the historical-cultural contexts in which they were composed

c) make appropriate use of literary criticism terminology

d) compare passages from different periods and authors

e) to present and discuss the topics dealt with in oral form with clarity and language properties


Basic knowledge (at high school level) of the history of Italian literature.


The course includes lectures with the aid of multimedia tools and materials. During the lessons there will be commented readings of literary excerpts and historical-cultural in-depth studies aimed at contextualising the works examined: both the readings and the in-depth studies are to be understood as examples of work on the literary text, hopefully aimed at stimulating the reflections of the students, who will be invited to actively participate with interventions and questions.

The 20th century section of the monograph part will be conducted partly in seminar form. This activity, conducted according to the principles of flipped classroom, is compulsory for attending students and will help determining the final grade.

The instructor will also make available to students, in a special section of the AulaWeb e-learning portal, the slides used in the classroom and other supplementary or study support materials.

Lectures will be held in presence. Attendance is not compulsory but strongly recommended.

Those who have attended at least 50% of the classroom lessons (i.e. at least 40 out of 80 hours) will be considered as attending students (the attendance will be monitored).

Those who anticipate that they will not be able to attend at least 50% of the lectures will have to take the examination as non-attending students and are required to contact the instructor at the beginning of the lectures to agree on an examination schedule different from the one indicated here.

In any case, it is advisable to attend the first lecture, during which the syllabus and the assessment methods will be presented.


Syllabus for attending students

General Part

The general part covers the study of the history of Italian literature from its origins to the end of the nineteenth century, including a selection of anthological texts of the most important and representative authors. The detailed list of topics, authors and texts to be studied will be made available on AulaWeb at the beginning of the lessons.

This general part will be dealt with in class only partially and will otherwise be left to the student's autonomous study.

Monographic part

The monographic part includes the topics covered in class, which will focus on the literary representation of historical facts and on the role of the writer as a witness of his time.

During the lessons, a series of selected readings will be proposed, taken from the great masterpieces of Italian literature (but also, at times, from lesser known and not 'canonical' texts) in which writers represent events, personalities or cultural and social phenomena contemporary to them. Through these readings, on the one hand, some models of analysis of the literary text at university level will be provided, while on the other hand, some characteristics of the historical-literary periods examined will be reconstructed from the texts themselves, showing how some literary pages, in addition to their artistic value, also deserve to be known as useful evidence for studying past eras.

This monographic part (which, inevitably, will partly coincide with the general part) will start with a series of basic notions relating to metrics, rhetoric, philology, and will then go on to examine texts by various authors, including Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca, Giovanni Boccaccio, Nicolò Machiavelli, Ludovico Ariosto, Torquato Tasso, Vittorio Alfieri, Ugo Foscolo, Alessandro Manzoni and Giacomo Leopardi. The course will end with the reading of some 20th century poetic and prose texts, which also relate to the literary representation of historical contexts (specifically, Italy during Fascism, the Second World War and the post-war period). Students will have to read six novels in their entirety.

The above syllabus applies to attending students taking the examination for 12 credits. Those taking the exam for 9 or 6 credits must study the general part and a selection of the monographic part (the latter must be agreed with the lecturer, contacting him at the beginning of the lessons).

Non-attending students (i.e. those who have not attended at least 50% of the lectures) are required to contact the lecturer by e-mail in order to agree on a different syllabus from the one indicated here.


Bibliography for attending students

General part

- Giancarlo Alfano, Paola Italia, Emilio Russo, Franco Tomasi, Profilo di letteratura italiana. Dalle origini a fine Ottocento, Milano, Mondadori, 2021 (or the two-volume version: Letteratura italiana. Dalle origini a metà Cinquecento, vol. 1, and Letteratura italiana. Da Tasso a fine Ottocento, vol. 2, Milano, Mondadori, 2018). Students are required to study only the parts indicated by the instructor at the beginning of the course.

Monographic part

- All materials used during the lectures and made available on AulaWeb

- Unabridged reading (in any edition, also in eBook) of the following 20th century novels:

  • Renata Viganò, L’Agnese va a morire
  • Curzio Malaparte, La pelle
  • Primo Levi, Se questo è un uomo
  • Italo Calvino, Il barone rampante
  • Luciano Bianciardi, La vita agra
  • Beppe Fenoglio, Una questione privata

The list of texts is subject to change, and it is therefore advisable to wait until the lessons start before purchasing or borrowing. The bibliography of the monographic part will in any case be supplemented with additional readings presented in class and made available on AulaWeb during the course.

The bibliography indicated above applies to attending students taking the examination for 12 credits. Those taking the exam for 9 or 6 credits must study the bibliography of the general part and a selection of the bibliography of the monographic part (the latter must be agreed with the instructor, contacting him at the beginning of the lessons).

Non-attending students are required to contact the instructor to arrange a bibliography different from the one indicated here.




First week of October 2024

Class schedule




The exam is oral. During the lectures, some optional in itinere tests will be scheduled in addition to the official dates, to allow students to spread the topics of the syllabus over two dates. During these tests, each student will have the opportunity to take a test on the general part, limited to literary history from the origins to the 17th century; in the event of a successful test, this part will no longer be subject to examination in the final exam.

The final exam is an oral test (approximately 30 minutes) about the topics covered in class (monographic part), plus, for the general part, the study of the literary history of the 18th and 19th centuries (for those who have successfully passed the interview) or the entire general part (for those who have not taken the interview or have failed it).

The final exam is an oral test lasting approximately 30 minutes. 

Students are free to take the exam as many times as they wish to improve their mark.

During the course, further information will be provided regarding the conduct of the mid-term tests and of the exam.

There are seven exam sessions each year, to which additional special sessions may be added, mainly for out-of-session students.

To take part in the tests, students are required to register online at least five days before the date of the exam.


The oral test consists of an examination on the topics included in the syllabus and aims to assess the ability to:

- paraphrase and summarise a literary passage;

- contextualise the works studied from a historical and cultural point of view and illustrate their metrical and stylistic characteristics;

- make connections and comparisons between the topics covered in the course;

- use appropriate and effective exposition;

- develop a personal critical opinion on the topics covered.

Those students who demonstrate an organic vision of the topics addressed, combined with the ability to add personal contributions, to master the tools of literary analysis and the specific vocabulary, to use effective and appropriate exposition, will be given a mark of excellence.

Those students who demonstrate a mnemonic knowledge of the subject with a more superficial analytical ability and ability to synthesize, a correct command of the language but not always appropriate, will be given a fair mark.

A superficial knowledge and understanding of the material, a scarce analytical and expressive ability that is not always appropriate will be rewarded with a pass mark or just above a pass mark.

Students who demonstrate gaps in their knowledge of the subject matter, inappropriate language use, lack of familiarity with the literature in the programme bibliography will not be given a pass mark.


Students who will not to be able to attend at least 50% of the lessons (i.e. at least 40 of the 80 hours of classroom teaching) are required to contact the instructor by e-mail at the beginning of the course in order to agree on an alternative syllabus. It is also recommended to attend the first lesson, during which the teaching programme and the exam description will be presented.

All students, whether attending or not, are kindly requested to enrol in AulaWeb to receive communications and notices regarding the course.

Erasmus students or non-native Italian speakers are kindly requested to contact the instructor to agree on the examination programme.

For students who have valid certification of physical or learning disabilities, please note that, to request adaptations during the exam, it is necessary to first insert the certification on the University website. The documentation will be verified by the University's Services Sector for the inclusion of students with disabilities and DSA (

Subsequently, significantly in advance (at least 10 days) of the exam date, it is necessary to send an e-mail to the instructor, including in copy both Professor Elisabetta Colagrossi, the Department's disability liaison ( and the Sector indicated above ( or In the email you must specify:

- the name of the course

- the date of the appeal

- the student's surname, name and student number

- the compensatory tools and dispensatory measures deemed functional and required.

The Department's disability liaison will confirm to the instructor that the applicant has the right to request adaptations during the exam and that these adaptations must be agreed with the teacher, who will respond by communicating whether it is possible to use the requested adaptations.

Requests must be sent at least 10 days before the date of the exam to allow the teacher to evaluate their content. In particular, if you intend to use concept maps for the exam (which must be much more concise than the maps used for the study), the sending must respect the expected times, otherwise there will not be the technical time necessary to make any changes.

For further information regarding the request for services and adaptations, consult this document.