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Unit information: Reading Medieval Culture in 2015/16

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Unit name Reading Medieval Culture
Unit code ITAL10025
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Kay
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Italian
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit aims to acquaint students with the political, cultural and social framework of medieval Italy and the manner in which recent criticism and historiography have discussed concepts such as the notion of the 'middle ages' itself, or the notion of 'courtly love'. The unit will focus primarily on the social and cultural importance of lyric poetry as a medium of literary expression within medieval Italian society, and on the slower development of prose writing. The principle text for studdy, Dante's Vita nuova, will permit examination of both prose and verse, illustrate broader thematic concerns, and provide an introduction to Italy's most famous literary and intellectual figure of the period.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will:

  • Become confident, critical readers of an important medieval text;
  • Gain an awareness of some key cultural and social questions of the period;
  • Engage with contemporary critical approaches to medieval culture;
  • Develop broader skills of cultural inquiry, analysis and criticism.

Teaching Information

Two seminar hours per week across one teaching block

Assessment Information

1200-word commentary (25%), 2000-word essay (75%)

Reading and References

Set text: An Italian or bilingual edition of Dante’s Vita Nuova is required. The recent edition by Anthony Mortimer (marked *) is especially recommended.

Italian / Bilingual editions:

  • Dante Alighieri, Vita Nuova, ed. Jennifer Petrie & June Salmons (Dublin: Belfield Italian Library, 1994) [Italian text with helpful English commentary and notes]
  • Dante Alighieri, Vita Nuova, ed. by Anthony Mortimer (London: Oneworld, 2012) [bilingual edition: Italian text with facing English translation and English commentary]*
  • Dante Alighieri, Vita Nova, ed. by Luca Carlo Rossi (Milan: Mondadori, 1999) [Italian edition, with helpful Italian commentary and notes]