R5B, Section 2: Italian Journeys from the Grand Tour to Today

MWF 8-9 | 254 Dwinelle | Instructor: Emily Rabiner

Units: 4

All Reading and Composition courses must be taken for a letter grade in order to fulfill this requirement for the Bachelor’s Degree. This course satisfies the second half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

Italy has long served as a site of enchantment, romance, and historical knowledge in popular culture. To this day, undergraduates flock to Florence and Rome for their semesters abroad, anticipating their own personal, intellectual, and cultural awakenings. In this course, we will consider a number of texts about journeys to Italy, from Goethe’s accounts of his eighteenth-century Grand Tour travels to Gabriella Ghermandi’s contemporary novel on postcolonial subjectivity. Throughout the course of the semester, we will think about the various ways in which Italy functions in these narratives. How do these texts posit travel as a pathway to self-discovery? To what extent do they travel through time as well as space? And how do they navigate the interplay between self and other, between the privileged and the dispossessed, and between history and the imagination?

This course fulfills the second half of the Reading and Composition requirement, and its primary purpose is to prepare you for college-level work through the development of critical reading, writing, and research skills. In addition to producing polished, final drafts of essays, you will write preliminary drafts and numerous close readings, as well as exercises on matters of style, register, and grammar. After completing this course, you should have an analytical toolkit that allows you to analyze primary and secondary texts, draft research-based essays in clear and elegant academic prose, and provide your peers with constructive feedback on written assignments.

One of our major goals in this class is to reflect on who we are as writers, how we present our ideas, and how we can gain a sense of pride in both the writing process and the product. To that end, all activities – formal and exploratory writing, style exercises, active reading, peer feedback, classroom discussion, etc. – are designed to encourage awareness and reflection in the cultivation of our academic voices.

Texts to be announced. Primary texts may include Goethe’s Italian Journey, E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View, Henry James’s Italian Hours, Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli, Roberto Rossellini’s Journey to Italy, and Gabriella Ghermandi’s Queen of Flowers and Pearls.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent. Students may neither enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.