English Literature (i) (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Lisanna Calvi
Lisanna Calvi
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
CuCi IIB dal Apr 14, 2021 al May 29, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The module aims at offering an overview of late-nineteenth to twentieth-century English drama, as well as at presenting the students with the basics of textual analysis. On successful completion of the module, students will achieve a good knowledge of the cultural context in which the texts included in the programme were composed. They will be able to develop a coherent and detailed interpretation of the texts, apply key methods and concepts relevant to textual analysis, and provide a plausible critical interpretation in a register and style that serve the context and intention.


Variations on the Jew: Marlowe, Shakespeare, Wesker e Marowitz

Moving from a discussion of the notions of adaptation and appropriation, the module aims at investigating two late nineteenth-century rewritings of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta. The role and characterization of the Jew in the two Renaissance dramas will be analyzed in the light of its presence and function in Arnold Wesker’s and Charles Marowitz’s 1970s texts/responses, also taking into account Barabas’s and Shylock’s long reception history.

Please be advised
Language: lectures will be held in Italian; primary texts will be read in English.
Further materials (slides, images, videos, etc.) will be used in class and will later be available for download from the MOODLE e-repository.
Students are required to do all the readings indicated in the three sections below:
a. Primary Texts
b. References
c. References for non-attending students


1. Primary texts
- Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta, in Id., The Complete Plays, ed. by Frank Romany and Robert Lindsey (Penguin Books, 2003), pp. 241-340.
- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, ed. by Charles Edelman (Cambridge University Press, 2002).
- Arnold Wesker, Shylock, in Id., Shylock and Other Plays (Penguin, 1990), vol. 4, pp. 171-261.
- Charles Marowitz, Variations on The Merchant of Venice, in Id., The Marowitz Shakespeare (Marion Boyars, 2009), pp. 226-283.

2. References
- Julie Sanders, Adaptation and Appropriation (Routledge, 2006).
- Dario Calimani, “L’ebreo di Malta. I significati della fine”, Quaderni Veneti, 3, 2014, pp. (scaricabile all’indirizzo: https://edizionicafoscari.unive.it/en/edizioni4/riviste/quaderni-veneti/2014/1/lebreo-di-malta/).
- Michele Stanco, “Il contratto ebraico-cristiano: l’usura, la penale, il processo in The Merchant of Venice”, in The Merchant of Venice. Dal testo alla scena, a c. di Mariangela Tempera (CLUEB 1994), pp. 87-116.
- Efraim Sicher, “The Jewing of Shylock: Wesker’s The Merchant”, Modern Language Studies, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Spring 1991), pp. 57-69 (scaricabile da Jstor – v. istruzioni per l’accesso su MOODLE).
- Michael Scott, “Demythologising Shylock: Arnold Wesker, The Merchant; Charles Marowitz, Variations on The Merchant of Venice”, in Id., Shakespeare and the Modern Dramatist (Palgrave Macmillan, 1989), pp. 44-59.

3. References for non-attending students
- Arata Ide, “The Jew of Malta and the Diabolic Power of Theatrics in the 1580s”, Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 46, (2), 2006, pp. 257-279 (scaricabile da Jstor – v. istruzioni per l’accesso su MOODLE).
- Anna Cavallone Anzi, Riscritture nel teatro inglese contemporaneo: A. Wesker, D. Pownall, C. Hampton (Unicopli, 1989), pp. 11-35.

Further details on required readings and general information on the bibliography will be provided during classes.

Other teaching materials (slides, images, videos, etc.) that will be used in class will be available for download from the MOODLE e-repository. These contents do not substitute but complement the mandatory readings listed in the BIBLIOGRAPHY section above.

Assessment methods and criteria

Typology: oral exam. There will be no mid-term tests.
The exam will consist in an oral discussion (in Italian) that will test the knowledge of the module’s topics (texts and authors). Students will be required to analyze and critically evaluate the primary texts also by contextualizing them in their historical, dramatic, and cultural background. Assessment will consider: 1. the knowledge and comprehension of primary texts (see a. above), 2. the development of good analytical and synthetic skill levels with regard to the main historical, cultural, textual, and critical topics of the module, 3. the use of an appropriate vocabulary.