Anglophone Cultures I

A.Y. 2020/2021
6
Max ECTS
40
Overall hours
SSD
L-LIN/10
Language
English
Learning objectives
Focusing on the literary and non-literary works, films, discourses, art forms and cultural products and practices of the Anglophone countries which are taken as case studies in the syllabus, this course aims to contextualize them against the complex political and cultural histories of these countries, rooted in the fraught, divisive experiences of colonization, empire, decolonization and globalized contemporaneity. The course aims to provide the students with an inter- and cross-cultural awareness, as well as to enhance their critical knowledge and understanding of these themes, which are increasingly relevant to our current experience of the global, with its claims and alterities, and enduring inequalities. These aims are pursued through the methodological and critical tools of cultural studies, which, combined here with postcolonial theory, and in tune with the avowed educational and vocational objectives of our Master Degree Course, privilege multicultural and interdisciplinary exchanges and perspectives. By fostering active participation from the students, and providing opportunities for advancing spoken English skills, the course sets out to enhance the students' critical- analytical skills, their ability to make independent judgements and organize their own work and study projects, and encourages an advanced ability to recognize differences and make thoughtful connections among divergent forms, genres, practices, identities and cultures, in line with the overall mission of Lingue e Culture per la Comunicazione e la Cooperazione Internazionale.

Objectives include:
- Knowledge and understanding - Students will gain knowledge and critical understanding of a range of cultural practices, productions (visual art, films, writing, performances), and literary genres and texts in English, relevant to the main themes of the course, which they will approach through the lens of selected Cultural Studies practices and theories. Selected theoretical paradigms and current debates in Postcolonial Theory, as well as the contested legacies of colonisation and decolonisation, and their impact on non-Western paths to globalisation will be also important elements of the course.
- Applying knowledge and understanding - Students will have the opportunity to apply their acquired knowledge and understanding to in-depth close reading and critical analysis of cultural productions and literary texts; to improving their ability to retrieve, select, synthesise, compare, evaluate and organize relevant information and materials; to debating and discussing relevant texts and issues in the class and in groups and producing oral and written work in English, and PowerPoint presentations, consistent with the topics of the course.
- Making judgements - Students will acquire the following skills relevant to making informed and autonomous judgements: by acquiring and developing comprehensive analytical and critical attitudes towards a diversity of cultural productions and literary texts, they will be better equipped to embrace and transfer intercultural and plural perspectives of analysis. The ability to draw comparisons and establish connections between the various contexts under scrutiny, and the habit to experiment with a diversity of approaches to selected issues consistent with the course will also be major assets in developing judgements skills.
· Communication skills - The course will enable students to enhance their ability to discuss selected topics, present their own work to an audience of peers and engage the audience in fruitful debates, use IT technology to support both academic study, research and networking.
Expected learning outcomes
Acquired knowledge and skills will match the multicultural mission of the Master Degree Course by allowing students to select, contextualise, critically analyse, evaluate and discuss the thematic threads, the cultural practices, discourses and productions of selected English-speaking countries showing an awareness of their historical, political, social and cultural backgrounds. This will be done from a variety of perspectives and using the methodological approaches of Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Theory.
The acquisition of these skills will enable the students to draw comparisons and unravel the connections between a given Anglophone context, analysed in both its local and global dimensions, and their own culture and experiences, according to a cross-cultural perspective which, in line with the overall objectives of Lingue e Culture per la Comunicazione e la Cooperazione Internazionale, will enhance their ability to compare and assess different histories, ideologies, claims, cultural practices, and the way they offer thoughtful responses to the main issues of the present. Through active participation and independent work, students will develop skills which will help them undertake further study with a higher degree of intellectual curiosity, autonomy, and ability to discriminate, transfer the acquired skills to related fields of analysis and apply multiple methodologies and a consistent intercultural approach to their dissertation and post-graduate research.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Due to the spread of Covid-19, the course of English Culture II 2020-2021 will be delivered online and exams procedures will include written assignments and activities in addition to an oral test. These variations will be always fine-tuned to the University's official directions and, hopefully, applied only during the first term of the academic year 2020-2021.

· Lectures will be delivered online. Most of them will be synchronous, in line with the official time-table, and will be accessed through the Microsoft TEAMS platform. Occasionally, and certainly during the weeks in which some courses of our Degree Program will be classroom-taught, asynchronous lessons (video-recordings, audio/video ppt) will be made available. Other teaching materials and suggestions will be provided through the ARIEL platform of the course. Asynchronous lectures may be shorter, and particularly designed to facilitate the achievement of learning objectives. They may be followed by online discussions and interactions. Active involvement will be encouraged.

· Testing has been redesigned so as to be equally accurate and effective in the case of classroom teaching and remote teaching (see the official programme).

These temporary provisions are meant not to interfere with the achievement of the intended learning objectives and acquired skills which define this course.

Programmes and teaching materials are the same in the case of classroom and remote teaching.

Information, announces and further changes will be published on TEAMS and on the ARIEl website of the course.
Course syllabus
Module 1 - Debating Africanness and Africa's Futures in the Global postcolonial present

The course focuses on recent debates and perspectives pertaining to the domains of philosophy, anthropology and African identities and worldviews which have emerged over the last decades and become more and more relevant at a global level since the beginning of the twenty-first century. These voices contribute to shape and uphold what is currently referred to as "theory from the (Global) South". Deconstructing the negative stereotyping of Africa as a site of "backwardness", this approach singles out the African continent as a workshop of a common (global) future and a locus for the envisaging of new imaginaries and modes of interaction and creativity. As a necessary premise, the course will also touch on Achille Mbembe's notions of "postcolony" and "necropolitics", in order to put into sharper focus the enduring negative impact of colonialism on African development. Zimbabwe will be taken as case study, as an introduction to the second module.

Module 2 - Voices from the Zimbabwean diaspora: Petina Gappah and Brian Chikwava, "Zimbabweans of the World".

After a brief introduction to the troubled history of post-independence Zimbabwe, module 2 will focus on the country's huge and highly qualified diaspora (Zimbabweans, as a rule, are the most qualified and highly educated African community in the UK, and its members have stood out by their impressive literary and creative achievements). More precisely, we shall address two acclaimed novels by writers who may well be defined "Zimbabweans of the world". Published, respectively, in 2009 and 2015, they throw into sharp relief the complex and seemingly clashing dynamics that connect the idea of the postcolony, the affective power of one's origins and the vexed notion of Afropolitanism. Building on Zimbabwe's powerful canon of literature in English, both works combine political counter-discourse, a comic vein, a negotiation of traditional culture and social criticism, filtering them through the experience, worldliness and sensitivities of the so-called "Africans of the World".
Prerequisites for admission
Students are expected to have a good command of English, as lectures, films, texts and debates will be in that language. Lectures by guest speakers may be in Italian. Students from other Universities or Degree Courses who do not have a background in Cultural Studies may read: Roberto Pedretti, Dalla Lambretta allo skateboard, 2.0, Sottoculture e nuovi movimenti dagli anni '50 alla globalizzazione, Milano, Unicopli (forthcoming, end of October 2020), (or, in English, Gary Hall, Clare Birchall, eds., New Cultural Studies: Adventures in Theory, University of Georgia Press, 2006).
Teaching methods
The lectures will mainly rely on whole-class teaching (including internet usage, online material and articles, films, slides, talks by guest speakers moderated by the course lecturers, discussion sessions with the participation of the students). Group work and students' autonomous productions and commentary on essays and additional material will be highly encouraged and actively pursued.
During the Covid-19 emergency lectures will be delivered through remote teaching. Most of them will be synchronous, in line with the official timetable, and will be accessed through the Microsoft TEAMS platform. Occasionally, and certainly during the weeks in which some courses of our Degree Program will be classroom-taught, asynchronous lessons (video-recordings, audio/video ppt) will be made available. Other teaching materials and suggestions will be provided through the ARIEL platform of the course. Asynchronous lectures may be shorter, and particularly designed to facilitate the achievement of learning objectives. They may be followed by online discussions and interactions. Active involvement will be encouraged.
Teaching Resources
Reading list:

The reading list is the same for attending and non-attending students.

*Most of the essays are available freely through the internet or the University Library online periodicals division. (Don't forget to log in!). This does not apply to novels and monographs

Module 1 -

Compulsory essays:

· Achille Mbembe, "The Universal Right to Breathe", in "In the Moment", Critical Inquiry Blog, pp. 1-5 April 13, 2020.
https://critinq.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/the-universal-right-to-breathe/
· Achille Mbembe, "Bodies and Borders", From the European South, n. 4, 2019, pp. 5-18
http://europeansouth.postcolonialitalia.it/journal/2019-4/2.Mbembe.pdf
· Jean and John Comaroff, "Theory from the South Or How Euro-America is Evolving Toward Africa", World Financial
Review, 13 October, pp. 57-60
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233373836_Theory_From_the_Sout…-
America_is_Evolving_Toward_Africa/link/5694fa6808aeab58a9a4b88a/download
· Petina Gappah, "Opening Speech", International literature festival Berlin, 11 September 2019.
https://brittlepaper.com/2019/10/opening-speech-at-the-2019-internation…
· Chielozona Eze, "Rethinking African culture and identity: the Afropolitan model", Journal of African Cultural Studies,
26,2, 2014, pp. 234-247
· Dominic Pasura, "Zimbabwean Migrants in Britain: An Overview", 2009, pp. 1-5
http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/139144/1/139144.pdf


Plus 1 essay to be chosen from the following list:

· Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, "Africa for Africans or Africa for "Natives" Only? "New Nationalism" and Nativism in
Zimbabwe and South Africa", Africa Spectrum, vol. 44, n. 1, 2009, pp. 61-78
· Deborah Potts,"'Restoring Order'? Operation Murambatsvina and the Urban Crisis in Zimbabwe", Journal of
Southern African Studies, 32,2, 2006, pp. 273-291
· JoAnn McGregor, "'Joining the BBC (British Bottom Cleaners)': Zimbabwean Migrants and
the UK Care Industry", Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 33, n. 5, 2007, pp. 801- 824
· Amatoritsero Ede, "The politics of Afropolitanism", Journal of African Cultural Studies, 28:1, 2016, pp. 88-100
· Julia Gallagher, "Healing the Scar? Idealizing Britain in Africa, 1997-2007", African Affairs, vol. 108, n. 432 (July 2009),
pp. 435-451

Plus all the slides and files made available on the Ariel website of the course (http://ldemichelisci1e2lin.ariel.ctu.unimi.it)
Students will be invited to participate actively in the analysis through workshop activities, presentations on essays and films, and debates.

Module 2 -

Novels:

· Petina Gappah, The Book of Memory, London, Faber & Faber, 2015.
· Brian Chikwava, Harare North, London, Vintage, 2009.


1 essay to be chosen among the following ones:

· Fiona McCann, "Prisons inside Prisons: Post-conflict Life Narrative in A Tragedy of Lives (Chiedza Musengezi & Irene
Staunton, eds.) and The Book of Memory (Petina Gappah)", Commonwealth: Essays and Studies, 39, 1, 2016, pp. 91-
100.
· Dobrota Pucherova, "Forms of resistance against the African postcolony in Brian Chikwava's Harare North", Brno
studies in English, vol. 41, 1, 2015, pp. 157-173.
· Irikidzayi Manase, "Representations of the Post-2000 Zimbabwean Economic Migrancy in Petina Gappah's An Elegy
for Easterly and Brian Chikwava's Harare North", Journal of Black Studies, 45, 1, 2014, pp. 59-76

· Plus all the slides and files made available on the Ariel website of the course
(http://ldemichelisca1e2lin.ariel.ctu.unimi.it)

*Most of the essays are available freely through the internet or the University Library online periodicals division. (Don't forget to log in!).

Students will be invited to participate actively in the analysis through workshop activities, presentations and debates.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Testing and evaluation:

The final exam will consist of a critical and detailed oral discussion on all the texts, files and other material included in the programme. Students are to take the exam in English, and are required to demonstrate their full knowledge of the texts and the syllabus, and to be able to contextualise, analyse, evaluate and discuss them critically in the light of the analytical tools and cultural studies approach developed during the course. Building on the information and bibliography provided during the course, they must be able to show a sufficient awareness of the historical and cultural background of the United Kingdom, along the perspectives discussed in the syllabus.

Students will have the opportunity, if they wish, to take at least 1 mid-term written assignment (a short essay to be written at home), and/or to take part in other learning activities or group works agreed with their lecturer. The results of the test will be published on the ARIEL website of the course (http://ldemichelisca1e2lin.ariel.ctu.unimi.it). Passing this test and taking part in the activities will allow the students to concentrate on a shorter programme (to be defined at the beginning of the course) for their final oral exam. Detailed information about the precise contents and formats of the test will be provided at the beginning of the course and published on the Microsoft TEAMS and the Ariel website of the course.
Students are free not to take this test and discuss the whole programme in their final oral exam.
For the students who will choose to take the written test, the mark of the final exam (in a scale of 30) will be a combination of the marks obtained in the written test, the evaluation of their active participation in the course (plus, on a voluntary basis, their autonomous productions), and the result of the final oral discussion.
Excellence will be awarded in the final exam to students who will show deep understanding of the methodological approach, will adopt originality of presentation, and will be able to contextualize and critically connect events, texts, and cultural practices, analyzed in both their local and global dimensions, according to a cross-cultural perspective.

Prerequisites and testing are the same as for attending and non-attending students.

Students who enrolled no later than the academic year 2019-2020 and want to earn ONLY 3 CREDITS have to prepare the programme and bibliography of the first module of the course, centred on theory and essays. If they are more interested in fiction and would like to prepare the programme of the second module, they are required to contact their professor by email or in person. The 3 credit exam can only be taken as part of the 9 credits that students may allot to subjects of their own choice. Students who enrolled in the current academic year 2020-2021 can no longer select the 3 credits exam.

Students are welcome to refer to their lecturers for questions and further comment about the contents and programme of the course during office hours through TEAMS or by email. This applies also to foreign students in need of individual advice.
L-LIN/10 - ENGLISH LITERATURE - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Educational website(s)
Professor(s)