ITAL30320 Italian Transnational Literature

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module considers the development of contemporary Italian literature, written originally in Italian language, by second-generation Italian authors, migrant authors, and authors with a transnational background. It identifies patterns and recurring themes in transnational Italian literature, focusing on three 21-century female authors and their literary production: Jhumpa Lahiri (Indian-American), Igiaba Scego (Italian of Somali origins), and Sonya Orfalian (Italian of Armenian origins). Close readings, with an eye to themes and stylistic features of particular importance, are offered in lectures and tutorials. Close, guided, textual analysis is an important element of tutorial work. Assessment is in the form of a commentary or an essay submitted in week 7 (40%), and a 2-hour exam based on both essay and commentary questions at the end of the trimester.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students should be able to: have a clear understanding of the meaning of "transnational literature"; recognise the place of each work in its transnational and cultural context; analyse the literary texts in terms of both form and content through providing a detailed commentary on individual texts; write a critical essay of a high standard, addressing content, structure, style, and issues of transnational identity, and incorporating critical reading; present ideas orally and engage in discussion.

Indicative Module Content:

This module focuses on 21st-century Italian transnational literature, and on its recurring patterns and themes, especially in relation to the writers' transnational identity and the colonial past. Students will focus closely on three novels: "In altre parole" by Jhumpa Lahiri (available from the UCD library in English translation with the title "In other words"), "Dove mi trovo" by Jhumpa Lahiri (available from the UCD library in English translation with the title "Whereabouts"), and "Adua" by Igiaba Scego (available in English translation with the same title). During the course of the module, students will also read excerpts from "Alfabeto dei piccoli armeni" by Sonya Orfalian, which will be provided by the lecturer in due course. All the texts are read in Italian, but students who don't attend Italian language courses are welcome to work on the English translation.

Indicative course outline:
Course outline:
Week 1: Tuesday lecture - Introduction to the module (reading list, course outline discussion); introductory comments on our authors
Thursday tutorial: Introduction to transnational literature and themes
Week 2: Tuesday - Transnational literature: definition, background, and the Italian context
Thursday: In-class activities and theory readings on transnational Italian literature (texts will be provided in advance and will be available on Brightspace)
Week 3: Tuesday – Jhumpa Lahiri and Language: "In altre parole"
Thursday: "In altre parole" 1st tutorial & commentary work (please read set chapter in advance, on Brightspace and available from bookshop. The dedicated chapters will be announced in class and on Brightspace in due time)
Week 4: Tuesday – Jhumpa Lahiri and Transnational Identity
Thursday: "In altre parole" 2nd tutorial and commentary work (read set chapter in advance)
Week 5: Tuesday – Place and Misplacement in Italian transnational literature
Thursday: "Dove mi trovo" 1st tutorial and commentary work (read set chapter in advance)
Week 6: Tuesday – Igiaba Scego and the colonial past: "Adua"
Thursday: "Dove mi trovo" 2nd tutorial and commentary work (read set chapter in advance)
Week 7: Tuesday – Igiaba Scego: Gender and Identity; ESSAY/COMMENTARY DUE THIS WEEK
Thursday: "Adua" 1st tutorial and commentary work (read set chapter in advance)
Week 8: Tuesday – Sonya Orfalian and the Armenian diaspora
Thursday: "Adua" 2nd tutorial and commentary work (read set chapter in advance)
Week 9: Tuesday – Writing and reading generational trauma
Thursday: "Alfabeto dei piccoli armeni" 1st tutorial & commentary work (read set chapter in advance)
Week 10: Tuesday – The Italian transnational context: Other relevant voices and themes
Thursday: "Alfabeto dei piccoli armeni" 2nd tutorial & commentary work (read set chapter in advance)
Week 11: Tuesday – The Italian transnational context: Other relevant voices and themes continued
Thursday: Tutorial on text chosen by the students (to be discussed before week 7)
Week 12: Tuesday – Overview; exam preparation
Thursday: Extra tutorial & commentary work (you will be notified of reading in advance)

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Task-based learning (close work on constructing commentaries), in the form of group work; lectures, seminars, critical writing. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Commentary, or essay, of at least 1500 words on one or more 21-century texts discussed in first half of the module Week 7 n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Examination: 2-hour end of trimester examination (1 essay, 1 commentary) on 21-st century transnational texts discussed in class 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive written feedback and have the opportunity for face-to-face feedback on all completed assessments.

Jhumpa Lahiri, In altre parole
Jhumpa Lahiri, Dove mi trovo
Igiaba Scego, Adua
Sonya Orfalian, Alfabeto dei piccoli armeni (selected passages on Brightspace)

On Transnational Italian Literature (on Brightspace):
Bassi, Serena et el., "Introduction: Critical Issues in Transnational Italian Studies", Forum Italicum, 57.2 (2023)
Burdett, Charles et al., The Transnational/Translational in Italian Studies, Italian Studies, 75.2 (2020)
Burdett, Charles, Transnational Time: Reading Post-War Representations of the Italian Presence in East Africa, Italian Studies, 73.3 (2018)
Grechi, Giulia, Exhibiting Transnational Identities and Belongings: Italian Culture beyond Borders, Italian Studies, 74.4 (2019)
Lombardi-Diop, Cristina, Postcolonial studies under erasure: The politics of the transnational in Italian studies, Forum Italicum, 57.2 (2023)

On Jhumpa Lahiri (on Brightspace):
Munos, Delphine, "Introduction", in After Melancholia: A Reappraisal of Second-Generation Diasporic Subjectivity in the Work of Jhumpa Lahiri (Boston: Brill, 2013)
Islam, Mohammad Shafiqul, Ambivalence and Identity, Critical Survey, 30.4 (2018)
Kellman, Steven G, Jhumpa Lahiri Goes Italian, in Nimble Tongues: Studies in Literary Translingualism (Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2020)

On Igiaba Scego (on Brightspace):
Ali, Ashna, Activist by Default: An Interview with Igiaba Scego, Minnesota Review, 94 (2020)
Rand, Lucy, Transgenerational shame in postcolonial Italy: Igiaba Scego’s Adua, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 56:1 (2020)
J. Ferrari, Parole migranti. I migratismi di Igiaba Scego, Italiano LinguaDue, 1 (2022)

On Sonya Orfalian
Salvinelli, Laura, Sonya Orfalian, alfabeto dei piccoli armeni, ROMA, 15.07.2023
Video interview (Link on Brightspace)