Novel and Society


** COURSE TAUGHT IN ITALIAN ** The topic for this Spring 2018 Italian Studies course is Detective fiction. The giallo or detective novel is one of the fundamental forms of literary fiction in the 20th (and 21st) century in Europe and the US, tracing its roots back to Edgar Allen Poe and Balzac. Georges Simenon, Agatha Christie, and Raymond Chandler are just a few names that come to mind from what could be called the golden age of the giallo in the mid-20th century. This course will look at the origins of the Italian giallo in the works of Giorgio Scerbanenco, based in Milan, and the “Mafia version” of the giallo with the novels of Leonardo Sciascia, set in Sicily. We will then move on to the 1970's detective novels of the Torinese duo Fruttero and Lucentini, the first ‘feminist’ giallo by Dacia Maraini, Elena Ferrante’s mysterious Amor molesto, and finally one of the many adventures of Inspector Montalbano by the Sicilian writer Andrea Camelleri. En route we will also watch Umberto Eco’s medieval giallo, Il nome della rose, and look at some of the comic books about “Macchia nera.” Some of the questions that will be at the forefront of our course will involve issues of gender (why do most gialli feature male detectives?) as well as region and dialect (why are most gialli set in the South?), while we will also pay attention to more fundamental components of what makes for a good novel, in any language: plot, suspense, character, and the role of the first-person narrator. All reading and the majority of the class discussion to be held in Italian. Students will be expected to do oral presentations, translation exercises, and compositions in both English and Italian. Reading list: Giorgio Scerbanenco, Venere privata Fruttero and Lucentini, La donna della domenica Leonardo Sciascia, A ciascuno il suo Dacia Maraini, Voci Elena Ferrante, L’Amore molesto Andrea Camalleri, La forma dell’acqua

Covers the development of the Italian novel in the context of larger social, political, and cultural developments in Italian society. Particular attention is paid to the relations between narrative and shifts in national identity following the 1870 unification of Italy and at important historical moments of the 20th century. Texts include works by Manzoni, Verga, Tommaso di Lampedusa, Moravia, De Amicis, and Volponi.

Course Information



4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

Spring 2018

Jane Tylus
MW: 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM CASA 203