First-Year Studies: 20th-Century Italian Literature

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

The course will explore 20th-century Italian literature, focusing on important literary figures, works, and movements (e.g. futurism, neorealism) that helped shape it. Italy became a unified nation in 1860, and its literature addressed issues such as (national and personal) identity, tradition, innovation and modernity, the role of literature and of the writer, and the changing role of women in Italian society. We will also explore the interrelation between Italian literature and crucial historical events such as The Great War, the rise and fall of Fascism, World War II, the Resistance, the birth of the republic, the postwar economic boom, the students’ and women’s movements of the 1960s and ’70s, and the terrorism of the Anni di Piombo. We will examine sources ranging from manifestos and propaganda to poetry, fiction (novels and short stories), memoirs, and diaries. The main focus, however, will be on the novel. Texts will include those authored by Gabriele D’Annunzio, Ignazio Silone, Vasco Pratolini, F.T. Marinetti, Italo Svevo, Grazia Deledda, Sibilla Aleramo, Alba de Céspedes, Alberto Moravia, Anna Banti, Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante, and Italo Calvino. Readings will be supplemented by secondary source material that will help outline the social, historical, and political context in which these authors lived and wrote, as well as provide relevant critical frameworks for the study of their works. All readings will be in English and available as e-reserves. Conference topics might include the study of a particular author, literary text, or topic relevant to the course that might be of interest to the student. No previous knowledge of Italian is required.