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Short Stories and Storytelling (17th-21st centuries)

Module Code: IT335
Module Name: Short Stories and Storytelling (17th-21st centuries)
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

Through this module you will explore the relationship between the short-story genre and the practice of storytelling. We will examine examples of frame narrative, that is to say collections of stories connected the one with the other by an overarching plot: a woman telling a different story each night in order to save her life (Arabian Nights), circles of people intent at ghost story-telling, novels structured as Chinese boxes. By moving between different ages (17th-21st centuries, from the Baroque to Postmodernism), languages (Italian and English), and types of narrative (the fairy-tale, the anecdote, the novel, the urban legends), this module will also provide you with deep understanding of the issues posed by narratology and the urgent questions narratology poses to the Humanities, even beyond literary studies: why do we need storytelling?

Structure

Wk1: Frame narratives and the Baroque: Basile’s Lo cunto de li cunti

Wk2: Orientalism and the charms of storytelling: the reception of the Arabian Nights from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries

Wk3: Storytelling as pleasure and perversion: Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom, the model of Decameron and Pier Paolo Pasolini

Wk4: Storytelling and the ‘marvellous’: Jan Potocki’s Manuscript Found in Saragossa and Giacomo Leopardi’s Operette morali

Wk5: Storytelling and the ‘uncanny’: E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Serapion Brethren and the multiple levels of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Wk6: Reading week

Wk7: Ghost story-telling circles: Catherine Crowe’s Ghosts and Family Legends, Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell

Wk8: Between Magical Realism and Structuralism: Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities

Wk9: Postmodernism: Peter Straub’s Ghost Story

Wk10: Hypermodernity: Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted and Michele Mari’s Fantasmagonia

Assessment

Either 4000-4500 word essay OR one 2000-2500 word essay and a one hour examination