Academic year
2022/2023 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LMJ050 (AF:381924 AR:209658)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
Go to Moodle page
The course is part of the core offering of the MA degree in American, European and Postcolonial languages and Cultures and of the MA degree in Language Sciences. It aims to offer students advanced knowledge and advanced competencies in English. The module focuses on the development of US English and provides students with the necessary tools to master the English language not only as far as interaction and oral productions are concerned but also in writing, as well as theoretical tools to further their reflection on language.

In line with the aims of the Program, this year's American Language course is themed on "Reparative Words: Modern Classics of Criticism." The aim of the course is to introduce students to the lexicon of contemporary criticism in English through the encounter of US women critics, thinkers, theorists, and writers such as Adrienne Rich, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Gayatri Spivak, Judith Butler, e Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, who have changed the way in which we think about language, literature, and culture more broadly. Students will be offered core critical tools and an interdisciplinary methodology to help them read and discuss a diversity of text of varying complexity while at the same time they will be able to appreciate the importance and cross-disciplinary impact of American Studies.
A detailed description of the syllabus will be available on Moodle.

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to
(knowledge and understanding)
• encounter, interpret, and appreciate the work of a major contemporary American thinkers
• expand their critical lexicon
• understand reading, writing, and thinking as interconnected activities
• recognize the distinctive aims and features academic critical writing
• grasp and develop connections among different authors, and understand their contribution to a scholarly conversation

(knowledge application and problem solving)
• identify an important issue or a question independently
• engage in all stages of independent library research, research an issue or a question by working in the library, navigating library databases, identifying relevant scholarship, and assessing its quality
• apply and develop knowledge of the conventions of academic writing, ranging from structure and paragraphing to tone and mechanics, and be aware of these conventions

(handling complexity and formulating judgements)

• map the scholarly conversation around a controversial or important issue
• produce academic texts of increasing length, and entering the scholarly conversation around a controversial or important issue, articulating a position and making an argument supported by evidence
• develop a sophisticated awareness of context and audience

(Communication skills)
• summarize, paraphrase complex texts, grasping their arguments and relaying them to an audience of peers and for the purposes of responding to them in writing
• participate in a debate presenting a position and offering a contribution
• actively engage in peer-to-peer collaboration in discussing texts, orchestrating a public debate, offering feedback to the work of others

(learning skills)
• master argumentative skills
• summarize, paraphrase, and quote from sources using the MLA documentation style
• revise for style and edit for features such as syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling
• take notes
• compile a bibliography of relevant sources
• formulate a research proposal

Level C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference.
The course assumes a proficient user at the C1/C2 level of the Common European Frame of Reference.
Contents of weekly meetings:

1. Introduction to the course
2. Language Revolution
3. Alice Walker (Feminism and Blackness)
4. Walker with Audre Lorde
5. bell hooks (Postmodern Blackness)
6. Paul de Man (Blindness and insight)
7. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (as Translator of Derrida)
8. Gayatri Spivak on her own (The Subaltern)
9. Judith Butler (The Performative)
10. Eve K. Sedgwick (Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading)
11. Sedgwick A Dialogue on Love
12. Guest Lecture Prof. Eva-Sabine Zehelein (University of Bamberg) :“Of Waves and Women: feminists, feminism(s) and issues of reproductive justice”
13. Eve K. Sedgwick II, A Dialogue on Love, part I
14. Eve K. Sedgwick III, A Dialogue on Love, part II
15. The two muses (Criticism and poetry in Sedgwick and Rich)
Required texts

LORDE, Audre. The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House (Penguin
Modern Classics 2018). PRINT.
RICH, Adrienne. Diving into the Wreck (first ed. 1973; reissue Norton 2013). PRINT.
WALKER, Alice. In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 984). PRINT.
SEDGWICK, Eve K. A Dialogue on Love (Beacon Pres 2000). Moodle.

BUTLER, Judith. “From Interiority to Gender Performatives,” in Gender Trouble (Routledge 1990). 183-193.
DE MAN, Paul. “The Rhetoric of Blindness,” from Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism (Oxford University Press 1971). 102-141.
HOOKS, bell. “Postmodern Blackness” (1991), in Philip Rice and Patricia Waugh, eds. Modern Literary Theory (Bloomsbury 2001). 362-368.
SEDGWICK, Eve K. “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or, You’re So Paranoid, You Probably Think This Essay Is About You,” in Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (Duke 2003).
SEDGWICK, Eve K. Selections from Fat Art/Thin Art (Duke 1994).
SPIVAK, Gayatri C. Selections from “Can the Subaltern Speak?,” in C. Nelson and L. Grossberg, eds., Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (Macmillan 1988). 66-111.

Suggested texts:
Julia Kristeva, Language the Unknown: An Initiation into Linguistics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), pare I e parte III (Moodle)
Mena Mitrano, Literary Critique, Modernism and the Transformation of Theory (Edinburgh University Press, 2022), capitolo 1. Available on the course RESERVE SHELF in BALI Library--Ca' Bernardo, reading room.

Student-run seminar and commitment: for attending students this means attending class regularly (no more than 3 missed classes) and giving a presentation.

Midterm. 3-page book review of Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens.
The review will involve reading the entire book and writing a description that presents the book to prospective readers in ways that do justice to your genuine encounter with Walker’s text, trying to pin down the kind of knowledge that you earned and that your reader might earn. Students who will find a way of accounting for the material encounter with the book (opening it, musing its cover touching the pages and so on) will receive a bonus.
This is not to disparage digital materials. This course is driven by digital materials. Yet, I want to make sure that sustainability does not mean the disappearance of the haptic, sensuous and unpredictable experience of discovering and finding a book; as our critics will tell us, so many new words come into the world because of that aspect of the textual encounter. Moreover, I wish to encourage the insight that a text is not an object. I wish to champion a more sacramental view of language and text. Meditating on degrees of materiality and physicality will, I think, encourage that perspective, as well as a more sophisticated awareness of what we do when we relate to the words of a text.

The paper must be well structured, with a clear introduction and a body; it must be articulated in paragraphs and follow the MLA guidelines.

A final 5-page paper. Students can choose between the following:
a) a close reading of a text of your choice among the ones proposed in the course;
b) a research paper on an author, a keyword, or an issue stemming from the course materials, the lectures, the seminars and/or class discussions.

In both cases, the paper must be well structured, with a clear introduction and a body; it must be articulated in paragraphs and follow the MLA guidelines.

Students who have not taken Lingua Anglo-Americana 2 in their BA curriculum and need further help with understanding the basic features of the paper will find materials in the Moodle folder called “Writing Center.” The Center includes PowerPoints prepared by me on the structure of the paper and an MLA Handbook. Papers that are not structured in paragraphs will not be passing.

Oral exam: Attending students who commit to the course (missing no more than 3 classes) should think of the oral exam as a conversation. It will last 30 minutes and the aim of the conversation is to build on issues raised in your written work and invite connections with the rest of the course materials.
Thus, to recap, elements of evaluation for attending students:

Student seminar and commitment 20%
Midterm 30%
Final paper 30%
Oral exam 20%

Esercitazioni Linguistiche

Additional bonus for students who have regularly attended Esercitazioni Linguistiche and have earned a final assessment of their language competences at the B+ level and at the A level.

End-of-course book review 20%
Final paper 30%
Oral exam 50%

Esercitazioni Linguistiche

The course builds on the competences indicated by the CEFR at that the C1/C2 and furthers them, with special regard to the ability to reconstruct the arguments of others and produce coherent individual presentations. Students practice how to enter an ongoing academic debate by offering their reflections for peer discussion and by producing a well-structured and well-documented research paper. The paper will exhibit all the defining features of an academic paper, including a solid engagement of the work of others in the relevant realm of research, a coherent argument through solid and effective paragraphing, and an overall awareness of the academic ethical code.
Student presentations and student-run seminars
Interactive class discussion
Language of instruction: English

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: 03/02/2023