L-LIN/11 - 6 CFU - 1° Semester

Teaching Staff


Course Structure

Lectures, assignements, class discussion.

Detailed Course Content

Module A “Comparative theories and criticism in the USA”

Comparative study of some the main theories and methological approaches in contemporary literaty criticism.

Module B “Hoax! Literature and Science, History, Biography”

Two XIX century hoaxers (Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain) and one of their XXth century heirs (Christopher Irving).

Textbook Information

Module A

1) Ten chapters from: P. Barry, Beginning Theory. An Introduction to

Literary and Cultural Theory, Manchester and New York, Manchester University Press, 2009: “Introduction” (pp. 1-10); “Structuralism” (pp. 38-58); “Post-structuralism and Deconstruction” (pp. 59-77); “Postmodernism” (pp. 78-91); “Psychoanalytic Criticism” (pp. 92-115); “Feminist Criticism” (pp. 116-133); “Lesbian/Gay Criticism” (pp. 134-149); “New Historicism and Cultural Materialism” (pp. 178-184); “Postcolonial Criticism” (pp. 185-197); “Ecocriticism” (pp. 239-261).

2) Six essays, for choice, from: J. Rivkin, M. Ryan (eds.), Literary Theory: An Anthology, New York and London, Blackwell, 2004.


Module B

Module 2 “Hoax! Literature and Science, History, Biography”

P. Barry, “The Sokal Affair”, in Beginning Theory, cit., pp. 284-286.

L. Walsh, Sins Against Science. The Scientific Media Hoaxes of Poe, Twain, and Others, New York, State University of New York Press, 2006. Mandatory readings “Poe’s Hoaxing and the Construction of Readerships”, pp. 51-119; “Mark Twain and the Social Mechanics of Laughter”, pp. 121-171.

E. A. Poe, “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Phaall” (1835); “Maelzel’s Chess-Player” (1836); The Balloon Hoax” (1844); “Mesmeric Revelation” (1844); “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” (1845); “Von Kempelen and His Discovery” (1849).

Mandatory readings: three (3) tales, for choice, plus: T. Whalen, “Poe and the American Publishing Industry”, in A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe, ed. J. G. Kennedy, Oxford and New York, OUP, 2001, pp. 63- 93.


Mark Twain, “The Petrified Man” (1862); “A Bloody Massacre Near Carson” (1863); “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (1865); “A Touching Story of George Washington’s Boyhood” (1867); A Double-Barrelled Detective Story (1901); “The Jumping Frog: In English, then in French, then Clawed Back into a Civilized Language Once More by Patient, Unremunerated Toil” (1903).

Mandatory readings: three (3) sketches, for choice, plus: B. Michelson, “Mark Twain and the Escape from Sense”, in Mark Twain on the Loose. A Comic Writer and the American Self, Amherst, University of Massachissets Press, 1995, pp. 1-37.


C. Irving, The Autobiograhy of Howard Hughes (20062); The Hoax (1981).

Mandatory readings: (1) novel, for choice, plus:M. Katsoulis, Telling Tales: A History of Literary Hoaxes, London, Constable, 2009 (only “Celebrity Testaments”) and the movie by L. Hallström, The Hoax (2006)


Further readings: students with little or no knowledge of the history of American Literature will study the sections devoted to E. A. Poe and Mark Twain.


Please remember that in compliance with art 171 L22.04.1941, n. 633 and its amendments, it is illegal to copy entire books or journals, only 15% of their content can be copied.

For further information on sanctions and regulations concerning photocopying please refer to the regulations on copyright (Linee Guida sulla Gestione dei Diritti d’Autore) provided by AIDRO - Associazione Italiana per i Diritti di Riproduzione delle opere dell’ingegno (the Italian Association on Copyright).

All the books listed in the programs can be consulted in the Library.

[*] The texts that are not present in the library will be made available in .pdf, according to the dispositions concerning their fair use.

Open in PDF format Versione in italiano