Academic year
2018/2019 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LM0560 (AF:277255 AR:157132)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
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The course is part of the “characterizing [caratterizzanti]” educational activities of the MA program in European, American and Postcolonial Language and Literature. Its objectives are to help students 1) to become more familiar with the history of European and North American literatures and their link with cultural history from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective, and 2) to improve their knowledge of literary theory and the methodological tools for textual analysis acquired during previous college education.
Knowledge and Understanding
1) Knowledge and understanding—also in the original language—of French and American literatures both at expert level and from a comparative perspective
2) Knowledge and understanding of the theoretical aspects of textual analysis covered during previous college education, the terminology of literary criticism, and literary history and its connections with cultural history, with specific reference to the comparative history and theory of the novel
3) Knowledge and understanding of European and North American cultures and literatures in their historical context and in relation to a literary form (the novel) and a particular theoretical problem (empathy)

Applying Knowledge and Understanding
1) Ability to take part in a scholarly debate on the history and theory of the European and American novel in an expert way and to speak in public and defend a thesis
2) Ability to act confidently in high-level professional situations and in intercultural contexts requiring knowledge of European and American cultures and literatures and the ability to relate that knowledge to general and topical questions

Making Judgments
1) Ability to develop intellectual independence with regard to the topics covered in the lectures

Communication Skills
1) Ability to communicate orally and effectively the knowledge acquired by using the correct terminology
2) Ability to interact with peers and the teacher in a critical and respectful way both in person and on the forum of the virtual classroom

Learning Skills
1) Ability to navigate critically the required readings and the bibliography they provide
Knowledge of the methods and problems of Comparative Literature Studies and the basics of literary theory
Empathy and the Novel. Empathy is one of the key-concepts referred to by scholars in order to understand the particular kind of cognitive, aesthetic, and social work of the novel. By reading two novels that are able to elicit strong and qualitatively different empathic responses, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, and by retracing the theoretical debate on empathy from an interdisciplinary perspective (literary theory, continental and analytic philosophy, psychoanalysis, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience), the course will explore the connections between empathy and the novel and reflect upon the importance of the idea of empathy for literary studies.
Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners. 1857. Trans. Margaret Mauldon. Intro. Malcolm Bowie. Nn. Mark Overstall. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Nabokov, Vladimir. The Annotated “Lolita.” 1955. Ed., intro., and nn. Alfred Appel Jr. New York: Vintage, 1991.

Keen, Suzanne. Empathy and the Novel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Pinotti, Andrea. Empatia: Storia di un’idea da Platone al postumano. Rome and Bari: Laterza, 2011.
Stueber, Karsten R. “Empathy” (2014). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. E. N. Zalta. Retrieved from
Ercolino, Stefano. “Negative Empathy: History, Theory, Criticism,” Orbis Litterarum 73.3 (2018): 243-262.

Non-attending students [non frequentanti] will also read one novel of their choice taken from the following list:
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Demons: A Novel in Three Parts. 1871-1872. Trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. New York: Vintage, 1995.
Céline, Louis-Ferdinand. Journey to the End of the Night. 1932. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Fwd. John Banville. Intro. André Derval. Richmond: Alma Classics, 2014.
Littell, Jonathan. The Kindly Ones. 2006. Trans. Charlotte Mandell. London: Vintage, 2010.
Learning will be verified by means of an oral examination.
1) Frontal lectures
2) In-class and online discussion

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Poverty and inequalities" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 24/01/2019