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CODE 101948
SEMESTER 1° Semester


there is a great deal of literature but not so much but that one can know it. And that is the pleasant the delightful the fascinating the peaceful thing about literature that there is a great deal of it but that one can all one's life know all of it. Gertrude Stein.



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.


Still Life. How to Represent Things with Words.

Literature offers a great field for perceptual experimentation. How do we know (redefine, reconstitute, cut out, transfigure, live) things through literary representation? How can things become characters of narration, instruments of memory, objects of poetic knowledge?
The course aims to analyze and compare significant twentieth-century literary texts - from the Modernism of the beginning of the century (Eliot, Woolf, Stein, Rilke) to the astonishing developments of the second half of the century (Perec, Simon, Sebald) - to inquire different, interacting, conflicting possible models of the literary discourse about things and objects.


1. General handbooks

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


2. Theoretical and Critical Texts

T. S. Eliot, Sacred Wood, 1921 [Il bosco sacro, L. Anceschi, c., Bompiani 1985]

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, L’oeil et l’esprit, 1961 [L’occhio e lo spirito, A. Sordini, t., Abscondita  1996]

Michel Foucault, Les mots et les choses, 1966 [Le parole e le cose, E. Panaitescu, t., Rizzoli, 1967]

Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon [Logica della sensazione, S. Verdicchio, Quodlibet, 1995]

Georges Perec, Penser/Classer, 1985 [Pensare/Classificare, S. Pautasso, t., Quodlibet, 2024]

Francesco Orlando Gli oggetti desueti nelle immagini della letteratura, Einaudi 2015

Pierluigi Pellini La descrizione, Laterza, 2015


3. Fictional Texts:  

Rainer Maria Rilke [Poesie. 1079-1926, A. Lavagetto, c., Einaudi 2014]


Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons, 1914 [Teneri bottoni, M. Morbiducci, E. G. Lynch, t.,  Liberilibri, 1989] Gertrude Stein, Geography and Plays, Boston, 1922 [Geografia e drammi, F. Iuliano, t. Liberilibri, 2010]


Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s room, 1922 [La stanza di Jacob, N. Fusini, t. Feltrinelli, 2022]

Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway, 1925 [La signora Dalloway, N. Fusini, t. Feltrinelli, 1993]

Virginia Woolf, To the lighthouse, 1927 [Al faro, N. Fusini, t. Feltrinelli


Clarice Lispector, O lustre, 1946 [Il lampadario, V. Caporali, R. Francavilla, t., Adelphi 2022]


Francis Ponge, Le Parti pris des choses, 1942 [Il partito preso delle cose, J. Risset, t.,  Einaudi 1979]


Michel Butor, Description de San Marco, 1963 [ Descrizione di San Marco, L. Tognoli, t., Abscondita, 2003]


Georges Perec, Les Choses. Une histoire des années soixante, 1965 [Le cose. Una storia degli anni Sessanta, L. Prato Caruso, t., Einaudi, 2011]


José Lezama Lima, Paraiso, 1966 [Paradiso, G. Felici, t., SUR 2016]


Claude Simon, Leçon de choses, Minuit 1975


Carmen Martín Gaite, El cuarto de atrás, 1978


José Saramago, Objecto Quase, 1978 [Oggetto quasi, R. Desti, t., Einaudi 1997]


Georges Perec, La Vie mode d'emploi, 1978 [La vita. Istruzioni per l’uso, D. Selvatico Estense, t., Rizzoli, 1984]


Annie Ernaux, Les Années, 2008 [Gli anni, L. Flabbi, t., L'orma, 2015]


W. G. Sebald, Die Ausgewanderten, 1992 [Gli emigrati, A. Vigliani, t., Adelphi, 2007]

W. G. Sebald, Die Ringe des Saturn. Eine englische Wallfahrt, 1995 [Gli anelli di Saturno. Un pellegrinaggio in Inghilterra, A. Vigliani, t., Adelphi 2010]

W. G. Sebald Austerlitz, 2001[Austerlitz, A. Vigliani, t., Adelphi, 2002 ]


Katja Petrowskaja, Vielleicht Esther, 2014 [Forse Esther, A. Vigliani, t., Adelphi 2014]

*There is no specific bibliography for non attending  students





FIrst Semester.

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



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


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

Erasmus students not proficient in Italian may request a substitutive bibliography, and take the examination in English.