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391 - LITERATURE, CULTURE, AND GASTRONOMY OF ITALY*

core

Course Description:

Lexicon, images and metaphors of food have an essential role in the Italian literary tradition, and gastronomy is interwoven into all aspects of Italian culture. Through the reading of short stories, poems, and texts of different genres, the course will highlight the diverse roles and functions of food: as nourishment of body and spirit, as social divider or unifier, as means of seduction or communication, as catalyst for an atmosphere or as a statement of power, as stimulus of memories or projection to the future. Food in children’s literature also will be analyzed and related issues – such as the absence or excess of food and the ethic of food and consumerism - will be considered. The course will conclude with a discussion of the Slow Food Revolution, a movement initiated in Italy and now with world-wide following, and its social, economic, ecological, aesthetic and cultural impact. Excerpts from movies of great directors such as De Sica, Fellini, and Visconti, and slides of classical and modern masters such as Annibale Carracci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Giorgio Morandi, will be included as essential background. No knowledge of Italian is required.

Learning Goals:

At the end of the course, students will be able to identify and describe crucial historical developments of the Italian society and culture and understand the main aspects of political and artistic movements. They will be able to critically analyze and interpret individual works of art and literature in and of themselves and in relation to their specific historical, social, and cultural context. Students will demonstrate the ability to effectively express and communicate complex ideas concerning the historical nature of cultural production in standard written and oral English.

Departmental Goals II and III: Cultural Proficiency and Professional Preparation.

This course satisfies the Core Curriculum Learning Goal: AH (o and p).

Area of Inquiry C: Arts and Humanities

Goals o and p:

o. Examine critically theoretical issues concerning the nature of reality, human experience, knowledge, value, and the cultural production related to the topics addressed.

p. Analyze arts and literatures in themselves and in relation to specific histories, values, languages, cultures, and technologies.

Required Readings:

A Reader will be made available by the instructor.

Course Requirements and Grade distribution:

The abilities defined in the learning goals will be assessed through oral and written activities.

Active class participation (25%): Students are expected to actively participate in class discussions demonstrating analytical capabilities and attentiveness.

4-page paper (25%): Students are required to analyze a literary text discussing using two introductory texts on the topic chosen. They are expected to demonstrate the ability to address and communicate complex ideas in standard written English.

Midterm exam (25%): Students are to write one essay choosing from three topics discussed during the first part of the course. Then the students are to compose seven short answers from a list of nine items. The essay will assess the student’s ability to analyze various themes from a social, historical, and cultural perspective while having the possibility to discuss pieces from the literary, artistic, musical, and cinematic genres. The identifications will confirm the student’s ability to decipher details pertaining to these perspectives and genres.

Final exam (25%): The exam is comprised of a further developed essay question and nine short answers (from a list of eleven) on the topics discussed after the Midterm.

The essay assesses each student’s progress in the ability to analyze various themes from a social, historical, and cultural perspective while having the possibility to discuss pieces from the literary, artistic, musical, and cinematic genres. The identifications will again confirm the student’s ability to decipher details pertaining to these perspectives and genres.

Contact Us

Department of Italian
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
15 Seminary Place, #5105
New Brunswick, NJ 08901


Voice (848) 932-7031
Fax (732) 932-1686

Sheri La Macchia, Administrator

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