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ITAL 3550-01/ITAL 3550-01H/WGST 3930-02 - Spring 2017



ITAL 3550-01 (& ITAL 3550-36, Lab: Italian Literature in Italian, for Italian Majors &
Instructor: Dr. Simone Bregni

Office Hours: M 03:10-04:00

F 12:00–12:50, and by appointment
Morrissey Hall 1523, Tel. 977-2617

MWF 02:10-03:00 MacGannon Hall 250

ITAL 2010-36 LAB

W 03:10-04:00 Morrissey Hall 3820

Description and Statement of Objectives

Welcome to ITAL 3550. The purpose of this course is to describe the development of
Italian literature from the Thirteenth to the Sixteenth Century, by reading the literary texts
in their historical, religious and philosophical context. From the theo-centric vision of the
world of Medieval humans to the rationalistic approach of the Renaissance intellectuals,
the course will take into consideration literature, theatre, art and politics of the time.
Special emphasis will be placed on the impact of Italian literature in European culture in
pre-modern times, stressing the broad and long-lasting influence of Dante's Comedy,
Petrarch’s Canzoniere, Boccaccio's Decameron and Ariosto's Orlando Enraged.

Tales of love, lust and conflict have always aroused curiosity and elicited powerful
emotions in listeners and readers alike, and have left an impressive trace in Italian
literature. We will approach texts both from a formal and a thematic perspective, so as to
expose the argument implicit even in a narrative that appears to be written for pure
appreciation and to recognize the connections between literature, politics, philosophy,
theology, art, anthropology and history.

Course topics include: political oppression, sexual orientation, migration, gender and
social inequality, racism, social justice. Outcomes: by investigating course themes
through the lens of Medieval and Renaissance Italian literature and modern critical
theory, students will refine their critical reading, writing, and discussion skills, deepen
their appreciation of the aesthetic, ethical, and cultural facets of literature, understand the
power of language to influence perceptions of human life, and gain insight into the
origins and modalities of global conflict and inequality in pre-Modern societies, and of
the challenges they face as future citizens of the world.
This course fulfills the College of Arts and Sciences Literature Core requirement.

The objectives of this course are:

 To gain exposure to a variety of modern Italian literary forms and genres

 To promote appreciation and critical understanding of the aesthetic, ethical, and
cultural dimensions of literary texts
 To improve close-reading skills
 To deepen speaking and writing abilities by analyzing the diverse ways in which
language conveys meaning
 To develop students’ inquiry in fields other that literature by gaining exposure to a
variety of methods of textual interpretation
 To enhance critical and analytical skills by examining texts through the lens of
diverse theoretical perspectives (intertextuality and interdiscorsivity, post-modernism,
feminist theory, gender studies)
 To educate about crucial transnational issues of our age by investigating globally
relevant texts of pre-modern Italian culture that shed light on the origins of these
 To gain insight into issues of cultural diversity and social justice of enduring
importance across national and cultural boundaries in pre-modern Europe.

Course structure: Our in-class activities will consist primarily of interactive lectures,
group discussions of readings, and students’ presentations. Regular class attendance and
active class participation are expected; a maximum of three unexcused absences is

Assessment: students will be asked to complete:

a. weekly verifications assessments (4-5 short answers)

b. three short essays (4-5 pages)
c. two class presentations
d. a midterm exam
e. a final exam.

In addition, as part of their Attendance and Participation requirement, students are asked
to (1) engage regularly in critical discussions of course materials on Blackboard by
posting at least one entry each week and (2) engage actively in class discussion in each
period. The discussion will also involve students’ Blackboard comments, so it is each
individual student’s duty to read, and reflect upon, all students’ weekly comments.
Final grades will be computed as follows:

Class Participation 10%

Verification Assessments* 5%

Presentations 20%

Short Essays 25%

Midterm 20%

Final Exam 20%

* Verification assessment will take place each Friday, at the beginning of class, in the
form of written answers to a few short questions (5 minutes or so). The purpose is to
encourage and verify your comprehension of the assigned readings.
Reading guides will be posted on Blackboard each week.

Course Requirements – Narrative

 ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION: Students are required to attend all classes.
Unexcused absences will not be accepted and will seriously affect your grade. You
may miss three (3) class sessions for any reason, regardless of excused or unexcused,
without it affecting your grade. After three (3) absences from the classroom for any
reason, your final grade will be lowered by 2% for each unexcused absence. An
excused absence includes, for example a university related activity, a documented
long-term illness or a sudden family crisis. In case you miss a class, you will need to
speak to your instructor and present written documentation (e.g. official letters from
the university), the same week you are absent. No excuse will be accepted after a
week of having missed class.
You are expected to come to class prepared, which includes completion of all
readings assigned for that lesson and familiarizing yourself with the material to be
covered that day. You are expected to participate actively: give answers, read, engage
in spontaneous conversation, share your ideas, and use your imagination. You are also
expected to post weekly comments on Blackboard and read, reflect upon and be
prepared to comment on, other students’ comments on Blackboard. Active
participation in class discussion is essential. Like all Italian courses, this is an
interactive class!

 HOMEWORK: Readings will be assigned at the end of each class period and are due in
class the next class period. You are responsible for the homework. We will be using
electronic editions of the texts, available on websites (Google Books, the Dante
Dartmouth Project, the Boccaccio Project) or in PDF format (posted on Blackboard).
You are responsible for bringing copies of the assigned readings to class each day,
either in electronic (laptop / Ebook reader) or in printed format.
No late work, make-up work or missed exams: All online assignments (short
essays, due via email in a Word file attachment, and Blackboard discussions) are due
at 11:59AM Central Time on the date assigned. You can find the assignments on the
Blackboard calendar. Any homework or assignment not submitted when it is will
determine a penalty: -10% of the grade for that assignment per late day. Students who
anticipate missing class may submit assignments early.

 SHORT ESSAYS, PRESENTATIONS, EXAMS: There will be I) three short essays II)
two exams III) three presentations.
I) Students will be required to write three (3) short essays (4-5 pages each) on a
salient aspect of the assigned readings, which have been discussed in class.
II) There will be two (2) exams, a midterm and a final, both comprehensive.

III) There will be two (2) oral presentations. The presentations are aimed to
encourage students’ preparation in view of the exams.

 RESEARCH, RESOURCES AND PLAGIARISM POLICY: You are responsible for using
reputable, scholarly-oriented primary and secondary sources for your short essay
assignments, presentations and exams.
- Your primary online resource for secondary sources (mostly articles) is the
JSTOR Humanities database ( Full access is available from the SLU
Libraries webpage.
- Secondary sources in the form of books are sometimes available as a full text
online. However, only a limited number of books or articles are available online,
so you are expected to make full use of printed books and articles available at
Pius Library (as part of the library collection, or through interlibrary loan). Do
plan your research and preparation ahead of time accordingly. The use of online
resources only is, generally speaking, not sufficient.
You are expected to make proper use of primary and secondary sources, by quoting
properly to avoid plagiarism. You can use MLA Style, Michigan, or other, provided
you are consistent in using your chosen quotation style/methodology.
The university academic honesty policies will be fully enforced (see below).

Grading Scale:
Italian Studies Program – Numeric Grading Scale

A= 92–100; A - = 90–91; B+ = 88–89; B = 82–87; B - = 80–81; C + = 78–79; C = 72–77;

C - = 70–71; D = 60–69; F = 59 and below.
Academic Integrity Statement

Academic integrity is honest, truthful and responsible conduct in all academic endeavors. The
mission of Saint Louis University is "the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for
the service of humanity." Accordingly, all acts of falsehood demean and compromise the
corporate endeavors of teaching, research, health care, and community service via which SLU
embodies its mission. The University strives to prepare students for lives of personal and
professional integrity, and therefore regards all breaches of academic integrity as matters of
serious concern.

The governing University-level Academic Integrity Policy was adopted in Spring 2015, and can
be accessed on the Provost's Office website

Additionally, each SLU College, School, and Center has adopted its own academic integrity
policies, available on their respective websites. All SLU students are expected to know and
abide by these policies, which detail definitions of violations, processes for reporting violations,
sanctions, and appeals. Please direct questions about any facet of academic integrity to your
faculty, the chair of the department of your academic program, or the Dean/Director of the
College, School or Center in which your program is housed.

Title IX Statement

Saint Louis University and its faculty are committed to supporting our students and seeking an
environment that is free of bias, discrimination, and harassment. If you have encountered any

form of sexual misconduct (e.g. sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, domestic or
dating violence), we encourage you to report this to the University. If you speak with a faculty
member about an incident of misconduct, that faculty member must notify SLU’s Title IX
coordinator, Anna R. Kratky (DuBourg Hall, room 36;; 314-977-3886) and
share the
basic fact of your experience with her. The Title IX coordinator will then be available to assist
you in understanding all of your options and in connecting you with all possible resources on
and off campus.

If you wish to speak with a confidential source, you may contact the counselors at the
University Counseling Center at 314-977-TALK. To view SLU’s sexual misconduct policy and
for resources, please visit the following web address:
home/office-of-institutional-equity-and-diversity/sexual-misconduct- .

Student Success Center Statement

In recognition that people learn in a variety of ways and that learning is influenced by multiple
factors (e.g., prior experience, study skills, learning disability), resources to support student
success are available on campus. The Student Success Center, a one-stop shop, which assists
students with academic and career related services, is located in the Busch Student Center
(Suite, 331) and the School of Nursing (Suite, 114). Students who think they might benefit
from these resources can find out more about:
 Course-level support (e.g., faculty member, departmental resources, etc.) by asking
your course instructor.
 University-level support (e.g., tutoring services, university writing services, disability
services, academic coaching, career services, and/or facets of curriculum planning)
by visiting the Student Success Center or by going to

Disability Services Academic Accommodations Statement

Students with a documented disability who wish to request academic accommodations are
encouraged to contact Disability Services to discuss accommodation requests and eligibility
requirements. Please contact Disability Services, located within the Student Success Center,
at or 314.977.3484 to schedule an appointment. Confidentiality
will be observed in all inquiries. Once approved, information about academic accommodations
will be shared with course instructors via email from Disability Services and viewed within
Banner via the instructor’s course roster.

Reading List

We will be using an electronic Reader, electronic editions of primary and secondary

sources, as follows:

a) Websites, such as:

o The Dartmouth Dante Project:
o The Princeton Dante Project 2.0:
o Columbia University’s Digital Dante:
o Longfellow’s translation, Gutemberg project:

o The Brown Boccaccio Project:
o iterature/hypertext/prologue/s

b) Ebooks (free editions) from:

 Amazon: (free Kindle application available for PC,

iPad, iPhone and Android devices)

 Google Books:

 Scribd:

 Project Gutenberg:

c) Ebooks / scans in PDF format. Scans/PDFs will be available on Blackboard.

A complete list, in PDF/eBook format, of primary and secondary readings will be

available on Blackboard week by week.

You are responsible for bringing your readings to class in electronic (laptop, Kindle, iPad,
Ebook, smartphone, etc.) format.

PLEASE NOTE: This syllabus is subject to change. All changes will be announced in class.


JANUARY 18-20 (Monday, January 16: Martin Luther King Day: Official University Holiday) :
Introduction: the Feudal world. Italy in the 13th century: the socio-political reality of
Italian city-states, the Church-Empire conflict, the antagonism between social classes. A
theocentric society. Chivalric ideals, cortesia and courtesans. Transmission of culture in
the Middle Ages. Monastic culture. St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of Creation.
Readings: selections from P. Brand and L. Pertile, The Cambridge History of Italian
Literature; P. Hainsworth and D. Robey, The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature; S.
Hause and W. Maltby, Western Civilization.

JANUARY 23-27: Apocalyptic visions and the end of the world. The divide between
high and low literature, the circulation of French romances in translation, popular and
didactic poetry in vernacular. The troubadours. Catharism and other heresies, and their
impact on Medieval society. Aristotelism and Platonism in the Middle Ages. Readings:
Selections from: Gioacchino da Fiore, Liber Figurarum; Tommaso da Celano’s Dies Irae;
Poets of the Sicilian School. Poets of the Tuscan Shool. Dolce Stil Novo and the donna
angelicata. Selections from P. Brand and L. Pertile, The Cambridge History of Italian
Literature; P. Hainsworth and D. Robey, The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature; S.
Hause and W. Maltby, Western Civilization.

JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 3: The question of language: the vernacular as a viable
option to access to a wider audience. Poetry and prose genres. Dante’s life and works.
Nomina nuda tenemus: Nominalism and Dante’s reaction. The Commedia: structure and
style. St. Thomas Aquinas, Scholasticism and St. Bonaventure. Readings: Selections
from Dante’s Comedy: from Hell, canto 1 (introduction) and canto 5 (the incontinents).
Selections from P. Brand and L. Pertile, The Cambridge History of Italian Literature;
Hainsworth and D. Robey, The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature.

FEBRUARY 6-10: The Commedia: imagery and themes. Readings: Hell, canto 13 (the
suicides) and canto 33 (the traitors to political parties). Short selections from Purgatory
and Paradise. Selections from P. Brand and L. Pertile, The Cambridge History of Italian
- Short essay #1 due.

FEBRUARY 13-17: Petrarch and lyric poetry. A new vision of Earthly and Divine love.
Readings: selections from Il Canzoniere. Selections from: P. Brand and L. Pertile, The
Cambridge History of Italian Literature; P. Hainsworth and D. Robey, The Oxford
Companion to Italian Literature.

FEBRUARY 20-24: Introduction to the 14th century: local wars and epidemics, the
emergence of mercantile class, the diffusion of the Signorie. Boccaccio’s life and works.
The Decameron: structure and setting, style, imagery and themes. The storytellers and the
author as a character. The great plague. Readings: The Decameron: Novel 1, Day 1 (Ser
Ciappelletto), Novel 1, Day 3 (Masetto and the nuns), Novel 8, Day 5 (Nastagio degli
Onesti and his disdainful damsel). Selections from: P. Brand and L. Pertile, The
Cambridge History of Italian Literature; P. Hainsworth and D. Robey, The Oxford
Companion to Italian Literature; S. Hause and W. Maltby, Western Civilization.
[Recommended reading: Karl-Heinz Stierle “Story as Exemplum, Exemplum as Story:
On the Pragmatics and Poetics of Narrative Texts.” In The New Short Story Theories, ed.
Charles Mayo, Ohio State University Press, pp. 15-43.]

- Students’ presentation #1.

FEBRUARY 27-MARCH 3: Boccaccio’s new vision of the world. Reading of Novel 10,
Day 3 (Alibech), Novel 3, Day 9 (Calandrino duped by Bruno and Buffalmacco), Novel
2, Day 4 (Frate Alberto), Novel 9, Day 5 (Federigo degli Alberighi). Selections from P.
Brand and L. Pertile, The Cambridge History of Italian Literature. Teodolinda Barolini,
“‘Le parole son femmine e i fatti son maschi’ [Words are female, facts are men]: Toward
a Sexual Poetics of the Decameron.” Studi sul Boccaccio 21 (1993): 175-197. Review for
Midterm Exam.

MARCH 6: Review.

Wednesday, March 8: MIDTERM (March 10: Class Cancelled)


MARCH 20-24: Introduction to the 15th century. Humanism and the rebirth of classical
studies and liberal arts. Neoplatonism. Gothic architecture and the Vitruvian Man. Dante,
Petrarch and Boccaccio’s influence. Readings: selections from Poliziano, Leonardo da
Vinci, Lorenzo de’ Medici. Selections from P. Brand and L. Pertile, The Cambridge
History of Italian Literature; P. Hainsworth and D. Robey, The Oxford Companion to
Italian Literature; S. Hause and W. Maltby, Western Civilization.

MARCH 27-31: Introduction to the 16th century. The Renaissance, the Protestant
Reform and the secularization of culture. Ariosto’s life and works. The Orlando Enraged:
mingling the Christian and the chivalric epics. Readings: selections from the Orlando
Enraged, canto 1-3. Selections from P. Brand and L. Pertile, The Cambridge History of
Italian Literature; P. Hainsworth and D. Robey, The Oxford Companion to Italian
Literature; S. Hause and W. Maltby, Western Civilization.

- Students’ presentation #2.

APRIL 3-7: The Orlando Enraged: structure, style, imagery, and themes. Reading of
canto 12 (Atlante’s castle). The Orlando Enraged: reading of canto 23 (Orlando’s folly)
and canto 34 (Astolfo on the Moon). Selections from P. Brand and L. Pertile, The
Cambridge History of Italian Literature.

- Short essay #2 due.

APRIL 10-12: Machiavelli’s life and works. The Prince: ethics coming to terms with
reality. Readings: selections from the Prince. Selections from P. Brand and L. Pertile,
The Cambridge History of Italian Literature; P. Hainsworth and D. Robey, The Oxford
Companion to Italian Literature; S. Hause and W. Maltby, Western Civilization.
[Recommended reading: Martines, Lauro. Strong Words: Writing and Social Strain in the
Italian Renaissance. John Hopkins, 2001].

Thursday, April 13-Monday April 17: Easter Break.

APRIL 19-21: Select readings from the Prince.

- Short essay #3 due.

APRIL 24-28: Select readings from La Mandragola / The Mandrake. Pietro Aretino’s Il
Marescalco / The Marshall, and the Queer hero.

MAY 1-5: Final Considerations: The Age of Absolutism / Late 16th – Early 17th century.

MAY 8: Review for Final Exam. [Monday, May 8: Last Day of Classes]
FINAL EXAM: Wednesday, May 10, 2:00-3:50 pm, MacGannon
Hall 250.


If you have any questions, any problems or require assistance with course material, feel
free to come to my office during office hours or make an appointment. I am happy and
willing to help you.