Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Italian)


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap 30 Location Durham


  • Italian Language 2B (ITAL2031) OR Italian Language 2A (ITAL2111) or an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: Italian Language 4 (ITAL3021). Others: see Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To study a select number of Renaissance texts and images in depth;
  • To examine these works of literature and art within the context of Humanist imitation and translation;
  • To analyse trans-historical case studies of their translation into new forms and/or languages both as conversant with and independent of their models;
  • To reflect on the processes of reception and transmission that render early modern Italian culture newly relevant across cultures and time.


  • A selection of one major text and one or two iconic images of the Italian Renaissance will provide the primary focus of the module. This selection will include works of literature and art that have been particularly generative of reproductions and imitations such as Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando furioso; Angelo Poliziano, Orfeo; Sandro Botticelli, ‘Primavera’, Michelangelo, ‘Davide’ and so on. The translations and adaptions studied will be interlingual, intralingual and/or transmedial, offering a means to explore the concept and practises of adaptation and translation within the broadest possible frame.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module, students should / will / are expected to:
  • show close acquaintance of and deep engagement with important Italian texts and images
  • know about and understand a crucial period in Italian history and its cultural production
  • have developed innovative approaches to analysing the production and reproduction of Italian Renaissance literature and art
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students should / will / are expected to:
  • have developed critical skills including the close reading of primary texts and the formal analysis of paintings and / or sculpture
  • be able to relate texts and images to the overarching themes of cultural and transcultural transmission
  • be able to reflect judiciously on the relevance of early modern Italian literature and art across cultures, languages and media
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students should / will / are expected to have developed the key skills of:
  • literary and visual cultural criticism;
  • essay and commentary writing;
  • structuring arguments;
  • independent learning.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module will be taught in weekly one-hour lectures in Michaelmas and Epiphany terms.
  • Bi-weekly one-hour seminars will deliver relevant information about the module and will include guided discussions and student presentations (subject to instructor’s decision and group size).
  • Students will be invited to select a topic on which to give a group seminar presentation, which will form the basis of one of the summative assessments.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay 1 Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Proposal 1,500 words 100% No
Component: Summative Essay 2 Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Final Project 3,500 words 100% No

Formative Assessment:

Formative work will take place during seminars where research skills and essay preparation will be discussed via workshops and group discussion. Small group presentations will also generate feedback designed to help prepare students to write essays.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University