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ITAL4121/ ITAL4921 - Medieval Italian Lyric

Value: 0.5 course units
Dr Catherine Keen
Teaching structure:
ITAL4121: one 3-hour examination (100%)
ITAL4921: two essays of 3,000 words (50% each)

Module Description:

This module explores one of the most diverse literary forms of the middle ages: the short lyric poem. It offers the opportunity to study closely two of the most famous Italian poets of any age – Dante Alighieri and Francesco Petrarca – whilst also situating their works within a historical, cultural and theoretical context. In a variety of themed seminars, we will examine questions about both the form and the content of this early poetic tradition. Poetry was a medium used to explore a vast range of issues, from personal meditations on love, fortune and identity, to matters of philosophy, politics and religion. Dante’s Vita Nova and Petrarch’s Rime sparse will provide us with substantial material for discussing questions relating to autobiography, identity, memory and authority; and we will further explore these issues from other viewpoints, including the comic and satirical, and those of under-represented groups such as women, Jewish or homosexual poets. We will look at some of the recent debates and discoveries that are re-shaping our understanding of medieval cultural politics and literary traditions, such as the revision of traditional categorisations of poets into schools and styles; questions about the formation of a literary canon; and matters of editing and authorising texts from medieval manuscript through to print and digital media.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

  • Dante Alighieri, Vita Nova, ed. Luca Carlo Rossi (Milan, Mondadori, 1999)
  • Francesco Petrarca, Canzoniere, ed. Marco Santagata (Milan, Mondadori, 1996) or ed. P. Cudini (Milan, Garzanti) or G. Contini (Turin, Einaudi)
  • Antologia della poesia italiana: Duecento and Antologia della poesia italiana: Trecento, both ed. C. Segre and C. Ossola (Turin, Einaudi, 1999)
  • Teodolinda Barolini, Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture (New York, Fordham University Press, 2006)
  • Terry Eagleton, How to Read a Poem (Oxford, Blackwell, 2007)
  • Claudio Giunta, Codici. Saggi sulla poesia del Medioevo (Bologna, Il Mulino 2005)
  • Guglielmo Gorni, Il nodo della lingua e il verbo d’amore: studi su Dante e altri duecenteschi (Florence, Olschki, 1981)
  • Guglielmo Gorni, Metrica e analisi letteraria (Bologna, Il Mulino, 1993)
  • Olivia Holmes, Assembling the Lyric Self: Authorship from Troubadour Song to Italian Poetry Book (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2000)
  • Christopher Kleinhenz, The Early Italian Sonnet: The First Century (1220-1321) (Lecce, Milella, 1986)
  • Michelangelo Picone, Percorsi della lirica duecentesca : dai Siciliani alla Vita Nova (Florence, Cadmo, 2003)
  • Marco Santagata, Amate e amanti. Figure della lirica amorosa fra Dante e Petrarca (Bologna, Il Mulino, 1999).