ITAL20170 Italian Short Stories

Academic Year 2020/2021

This module considers the development of the short story, in terms of form and themes, from its Renaissance roots in Boccaccio, through some of its well-known nineteenth-century practitioners (Verga, Serao), into the early and mid- twentieth-century (Pirandello, Buzzati) right through to its contemporary manifestations in the collection 'Sei fuori posto' (Saviano, Vinci, Lucarelli, Parrella, Colaprico, Wu Ming). Close readings, with an eye to themes and stylisic features of particular importance are offered in lectures and tutorials. Close, guided, textual analysis is an important element of tutorial work. Assessment is in the form of a commentary or an essay submitted in week 7 (40%), and a 2-hour exam based on essay and commentary questions at the end of the trimester.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students should be able to: recognize the place of each work in its historical and cultural context; analyse the post-Renaissance texts in terms of both form and content through providing a detailed commentary on individual texts; write a critical essay of a high standard, addressing content, structure, style, and issues of genre and incorporating critical reading; present ideas orally and engage in discussion.

Indicative Module Content:

This module focusses on the development of the short story, and particularly on its changing form through the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Students will read some short stories by Boccaccio in English; we will focus closely on 'Rosso malpelo' and 'L'amante di Gramigna' by Giovanni Verga, and on 'Terno secco' by Matilde Serao as 19th-century examples of short stories. In terms of the 20th century, we will focus on 'La giara', 'Uno di piu'', 'La signora Frola e il signor Ponza, suo genero' and 'Colloqui coi personaggi' by Luigi Pirandello, and 'Sette piani' and 'I sette messaggeri' by Dino Buzzati; our 21st-century examples are Roberto Saviano's 'Il contrario della morte' and Valeria Parrella's 'Il premio'. All of the stories other than those by Boccaccio will be read in Italian. The list above is not meant to be exhaustive; students are encouraged to read other stories by the selected authors.

Indicative course outline:
Course outline:
Week 1: Tuesday tutorial - Introduction to the module (reading list, course outline discussion); introductory comments on short stories through the centuries, and on our authors
Thursday lecture: Boccaccio, beginnings, background
Week 2: Tuesday - Boccaccio tutorial & commentary work (please read set stories in advance, on Brightspace and available from bookshop)
Thursday: Verga, verismo; ‘Rosso malpelo’
Week 3: Tuesday – Verga tutorial and commentary work ( read ‘Rosso malpelo’in advance)
Thursday: Verga, verismo; ‘L’amante di Gramigna’
Week 4: Tuesday – Verga tutorial and commentary work (read ‘L’amante di Gramigna’ in advance)
Thursday: Serao and verismo; ‘Terno secco’
Week 5: Tuesday – Serao tutorial and commentary work (read indicated sections of ‘Terno secco’ in advance)
Thursday: Pirandello between naturalism and modernism
Week 6: Tuesday – Pirandello tutorial and commentary work (read 'La signora Frola' in advance)
Thursday: Pirandello and modernism; ‘La signora Frola’, ‘Colloquii coi personaggi’
Week 7: Tuesday – Pirandello tutorial and commentary work (re-read ‘LsF’ and read ‘Ccp’ in advance)
Thursday: Buzzati’s ideas; ‘Sette piani’ ESSAY/COMMENTARY DUE THIS WEEK
Week 8: Tuesday – Buzzati tutorial and commentary work (read ‘Sette piani’ in advance)
Thursday: Buzzati and form; ‘I sette messaggeri’
Week 9: Tuesday – Buzzati tutorial & commentary work (read ‘I sette messaggeri’ in advance)
Thursday: Contemporary authors and theories; Saviano, ‘Il contrario della morte’
Week 10: Tuesday – Saviano tutorial and commentary work (read ‘Il contrario della morte’ in advance)
Thursday: Contemporaries; Parrella (‘Il premio’)
Week 11: Tuesday – Parrella tutorial & commentary work (read ‘Il premio’ in advance)
Thursday: Contemporaries continued
Week 12: Tuesday – Extra tutorial & commentary work (you will be notified of reading in advance)
Thursday: Overview; developments over the centuries

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Task-based learning (close work on constructing commentaries), in the form of group work; lectures, seminars, critical writing. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

Students should have completed level 1 Italian language (ITAL 10030), and ideally level 2 Italian language semester 1 (ITAL20010) or be able to demonstrate equivalent competency in the language. The module Reading Italian Literature would be an excellent preparatory module for this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: 2-hour end of semester examination (1 essay, 1 commentary) on twentieth century and contemporary short stories discussed in class 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Assignment: Commentary, or essay, of at least 1,500 words on one or more nineteenth-century short stories discussed in first half of the module Week 7 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Individual and group feedback will be given on the commentary or essay that has been submitted in week 7 within 20 working days of the submission. This feedback will help students in their preparation for the similar tasks that must be completed in the end of semester examination.

Core texts:
Boccaccio Decameron (O' Cuilleanain translation) selected stories
Giovanni Verga, Novelle, selected stories
Matilde Serao 'Terno secco' (on Brightspace)
Luigi Pirandello, Novelle, selected stories
Dino Buzzati, Sessanta racconti, selected stories
Sei fuori posto ed. Roberto Saviano, selected stories

Background/critical reading--
On Boccaccio and the early period:
Robert J. Clements, Joseph Gibaldi, Anatomy of the Novella: the European Tale Collection from Boccaccio and Chaucer to Cervantes (New York, New York U.P., 1977) 809.CLE
Joseph Gibaldi, ‘The Renaissance Theory of the Novella’ Canadian review of Comparative Literature vol. 2, 3, 1979 (online - library)
Giuseppe Mazzotta, The World at Play in Boccaccio's Decameron (New Jersey, Princeton U.P., 1986) 853 BOC/M
Marilyn Migiel, The Ethical Dimension of the Decameron (Toronto, Toronto University Press, 2015) 853 BOC/M
David Wallace, Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron (Cambridge, C.U.P., 1991) 853 BOC/W

On Verga, verismo, Serao:
Roberto Bigazzi, ‘Su Verga novelliere’, Saggi di varia umanità (Pisa, Nistri-Lischi,1975) 853 VER/B
Giovanni Carseniga, ‘Literary Realism in Italy: Verga, Capuana, and Verismo’, The Cambridge Companion to the Italian Novel (Cambridge, C.U.P, 2003) 853.09 BON (& e-book from library)
Piero Garofalo, Once upon a time...narrative strategies in Verga's "Jeli il pastore" and "Rosso Malpelo" MLN, vol. 117, 1, 2002 (online from library)
Martin Greenberg, ‘Giovanni Verga's Verismo’, New Criterion, vol. 22, 9, 2004 (online from library)
Ursula Fanning, Gender meets genre: woman as subject in the fictional universe of Matilde Serao (Dublin and Portland, Oregon, Irish Academic Press, 2002) 853 SER/F
Ursula Fanning, ‘Writing women's work: the ambivalence of Matilde Serao’, Italian Studies, vol. 48, 1,1993 (online from library)
Katharine Mitchell, Italian women writers: gender and everyday life in fiction and journalism, 1870-1910 (Toronto, U.T.P., 2014) (online from library)
Katharine Mitchell and Helena Sanson, Women and gender in post-unification Italy: between private and public spheres (Oxford, Peter Lang, 2013) 305.40945 MIT

On Pirandello:
R. Alonge, Luigi Pirandello (Rome, Laterza, 1997) 852 PIR/A
G. Biasin and M. Gieri, Luigi Pirandello: Contemporary Perspectives (Toronto, U.T.P., 1999) 852 PIR/B
A. Caesar , Characters and Authors in Luigi Pirandello (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1998) 852 PIR/C
Ursula Fanning, ‘Short Story Strategies; Matters of Gender, Generation and Genre’, Pirandello Studies, vol. 32, 2012 (will be on Blackboard)

On Buzzati:
Mario Mignone, Anormalità e angoscia nella narrativà di Dino Buzzati (Ravenna, Longo, 1981) 853 BUZ/M
Felix Siddell, Death and Deception: Sense of Place in Buzzati and Morante (Leicester, Troubador, 2006) 853 BUZ/S
Claudio Toscani, Guida alla lettura di Buzzati (Milan, Mondadori, 1987) 853 BUZ/T
Terry Apter, Fantasy Literature: An Approach to Reality (Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1982) 809 APT
Rosemary Jackson, Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion (London, Routledge, 1988) 809 JAC

On the modern short story, Saviano, Parrella:
Charles E. May (ed.), The new short story theories (Ohio, Ohio U.P., 1994) 809.3 MAY
Charles E. May, The short story : the reality of artifice (London, Macmillan, 1995) 809.3 MAY
Paola Urbani, Modelli e teoria del racconto (Rome, Studium, 1976)412 URB
Angelo Castagnino, The intellectual as a detective : from Leonardo Sciascia to Roberto Saviano (Peter Lang, 2014) 853.09 CAS
Articles on Blackboard (in due course)

Name Role
Assoc Professor Paolo Acquaviva Lecturer / Co-Lecturer