205: Proseminar: Literary Theory/Literary History

M 2-5 | 6331 Dwinelle | Instructor: Barbara Spackman

Units: 2 or 4

The Proseminar serves as the core course for the Italian Studies graduate program, and aims to provide students with a foundation for literary study as it is practiced in the U.S.  To that end, we will read a series of foundational theoretical essays, focused on a set of key words that are themselves metonymies for major theoretical approaches. This fall, those key words will be “ideology,” “gender,” “rhetoric,” “affect,” and “animal.”  Theorists read will include Ahmed, Althusser, Barthes, Butler, Culler, De Lauretis, Derrida, Freud, Marx, Ngai, Sedgwick, Singer.    Our readings in theory will be complemented by readings in literary texts drawn from several different periods in the Italian tradition. The literary texts will offer us the occasion to test the practices of reading and methodological approaches that emerge from our discussions of theory. Authors read will include Boccaccio, Petrarca, Stampa, Franco, Verga, Foscolo, and Ortese.

Students will be required to give one or two in-class presentations (depending upon the number of students enrolled), and to write two short 8-10 page papers.

The course is required of M.A. students, and recommended for Ph.D. students.