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First Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)


Knowledge of diverse kinds of Life writing in Great Britain (1500-2000);
Capacity of appreciating literature as a means of social cohesion.
Knowledge of some elements of narratology.
Capacity of analysing Life writings.


Knowledge of the historical background (1500-2000)
Good competence of English language.


Introduction to Life Writing.
Early Modern Life Writing and its uses.
Fiction vs Factuality.
The intellectual and his/her portrait. Literary biography.
Emplotting events to make sense of the past.
The importance of celebrating our past. (6 credits)
Victorian and Modernist biographies.
Fictionalised biography.
Virginia Woolf on biography.
Virginia Woolf fictionalised biographies. (12 credits)
Orlando 12 credits

Teaching Methods

Lessons (both in English and in Italian).
If covid restrictions will not allow face-to face-lessons, lessons will be online. Recordings will be available to attendees.

Verification of learning

Oral assessment will be used to test students’ ability a) to put forward their interpretation of a given text; b) to provide pieces of evidence for it, c) to quote or to confute pieces of criticism to buttress their own opinions.
Class attendance and participation count for 30% of the final grade, Knowledge of the main topic discussed for 30%, the capacity of close reading for 30%, the use of the required sectorial language for 10%. The pass mark is 18 out of thirty. Top mark is 30/30.


Testi di riferimento (bibliografia per la preparazione dell’esame)
Primary texts
William Roper, The Life of Sir Thomas More (Textual analysis)
Izaak Walton, John Donne’s Life,
Samuel Johnson, Life of Thomas Gray, (30 hours, 6 credits)
Elizabeth Gaskell, The life of Charlotte Brontë,
Lytton Stratchey, Eminent Victorians.
Virginia Woolf, Flush.
Virginia Woolf, Orlando. (30 hours, 6 credits)
Excerpts from the texts will be analysed during classes. Students must choose and analyse one of the primary texts autonomously.
Verranno letti e commentati estratti dai testi proposti. Gli studenti devono scegliere almeno 1 dei testi e presentarne una dettagliata analisi all’esame.
Reference Texts
Paolo Bertinetti, English Literature. A Short History. Einaudi. (30+30 hours)
Why Does Literary Biography Matter? Author(s): Andrew Hadfield Source: Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 4 (Winter 2014), pp. 371-378;
Reading Biography Author(s): Michael Benton Source: The Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall, 2007), pp. 77-88.
Writing Contexts in William Roper's Life of Thomas More
"Visible Rhetorick": Izaak Walton and Iconic Biography. Author(s): Richard Wendorf. Source: Modern Philology, Vol. 82, No. 3 (Feb. 1985), pp. 269-291
Published by: The University of Chicago Press. Stable URL:
MARK ROBSON.Floriane Reviron-Piégay, Eminent Victorians: Outrageous Strachey? The Indecent Exposure of Victorian Characters and Mores.
Ray Monk, This Fictitious Life: Virginia Woolf on Biography.

More Information

This study plan is subject to changes. Objectives and seminar activities will be tailored to students abilities and interests. The reading list might be modified and updated during the semester.
Materials, guidelines, slides will be stored up in a moodle archive. Attendant and non-attendant students will have access to this resource

Questionnaire and social

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