Skip to main content
CODE 55867
SEMESTER 2° Semester
SECTIONING Questo insegnamento è diviso nelle seguenti frazioni:
  • A
  • B
  • C


    The course is part of the Basic Learning Activities for the Bachelor’s course in Modern Languages and Cultures, and bestows 9 ECTS, corresponding to 54 hours of classroom teaching and 171 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 in the history of Italian literature; it contributes to the acquisition of knowledge and skills useful for the professional outlets envisaged by the bachelor degree course in Modern Languages and Cultures, and in particular for: 

    - access to teacher training

    - cultural services (publishing, journalism, radio and television, Italian and foreign cultural institutes and foundations, book heritage preservation)

    - cultural tourism

    - organization of artistic and cultural events and exhibitions.

    This page relates to section B of Italian Literature (students E-O).



    The course aims at providing students with an exhaustive overviewing of the Italian literary tradition and its relations with foreign cultures; this outcome will be reached by analyzing exemplary texts, cultural contexts, forms, genres.


    The course aims to illustrate (in a historical-critical perspective) a selection of significant works and authors of Italian literature, providing students with the essential conceptual and methodological tools to understand the poetic language and analyze a literary passage from a content and metric-stylistic perspective.

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

    a) identify and define the most significant movements and poetics in the history of Italian literature

    b) interpret, paraphrase, and analyse autonomously literary passages 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) explain and discuss in oral form the topics discussed in class with clarity and language properties.


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


    The course includes frontal lessons with the help of multimedia tools and materials. During the lectures there will be commented readings of literary excerpts and in-depth cultural 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 teacher will also make available to students, in a special section of the AulaWeb e-learning portal, the slides used in the classroom and other study support materials.

    Lectures will be held in presence. Course attendance is not compulsory, but warmly recommended. Students who, for justified reasons, expect not to be able to attend at least 50% of the lessons (i.e. at least 27 of the 54 hours of classroom teaching) are required to contact the teacher by e-mail at the beginning of the course in order to agree on an alternative examination programme. It is also recommended to attend the first lesson, during which the teaching programme and the exam rules will be presented.


    Syllabus for attending students

    General Part

    The general part concerns the study of the history of Italian literature from its origins to the twentieth century, limited to a series of topics and authors that will be published on AulaWeb at the beginning of the lessons.

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

    Monographic part

    The monographic part comprises the topics covered in class, which will deal with the following theme: the representations of hell in Italian literature.

    During the lessons, after a brief introduction on the concept of hell in classical culture, some literary representations of hell will be analysed, starting from Dante's Inferno and then moving on to the works of Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Ariosto, Tasso and Manzoni; the last part will examine two 20th century novels, Se questo è un uomo by Primo Levi and La Pelle by Curzio Malaparte, that students will have to read in their entirety.

    Through these readings, an attempt will be made, on the one hand, to provide some models for analysing the literary text at university level and, on the other, to illustrate the main ways in which hell is depicted (from the serious to the comic), as well as the metaphorical and allegorical meanings inherent to these representations. Literary works that deal with hell as an otherworldly place (which, however, always alludes to human society, either by mirroring or by paradox) will be examined, as well as works that describe 'hells on earth', i.e. realities of suffering created by human wickedness, hatred and superstition.

    During the lectures, some brief references to the fortune of the examined works in the main European literatures will also be introduced.

    Course attendance is not compulsory, but warmly recommended.

    Non-attending students are required to contact the lecturer at the beginning of class in order to arrange a different examination programme from the one indicated here.

    For further information, see the sections Recommended reading/bibliography, Teaching methods and Exam description.


    Bibliography for attending students


    General part

    - Ugo Dotti, Storia della letteratura italiana, Roma, Carocci, 2020 (N.B.: 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

    - Dante Alighieri, Inferno, ed. by Anna Maria Chiavacci Leonardi, Milano, Mondadori; or the edition by Giorgio Inglese, Roma, Carocci; or the edition by Bianca Garavelli, Milano, Bompiani (only the passages read in class)

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

    • Primo Levi, Se questo è un uomo
    • Curzio Malaparte, La pelle

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

    Non-attending students must contact the teacher to arrange an alternative bibliography.


    Exam Board

    MATTEO NAVONE (President)



    February 2025 (the precise date on which classes will begin will be announced as soon as the calendar for the second semester of the 2024/2025 academic year is available)

    Class schedule




    The examination is an oral test lasting approximately 30 minutes and covering the entire programme.

    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 examination.

    Seven exam sessions are scheduled each year (three in the summer session, two in the autumn session, two in the winter session), to which other extraordinary exam sessions may be added.

    To take part in the tests, you must register at least five days before the date of the exam on the website

    Non-attending students must contact the teacher by email to arrange an alternative programme.


    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, for justified reasons, expect not to be able to attend at least 50% of the lessons (i.e. at least 27 of the 54 hours of classroom teaching) are required to contact the teacher by e-mail at the beginning of the course in order to agree on an alternative examination programme. It is also recommended to attend the first lesson, during which the teaching programme and the exam rules 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 teacher 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 on the page in the "Students" section. 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 Prof. Sara Dickinson (, 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. 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.