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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ITAL3370 Dark Italy: Italian Crime Fiction

20 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Gigliola Sulis

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisite qualifications

Level 2 Italian language or equivalent

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module aims to introduce students to Italian detective novels. Traditionally labelled as low-brow and undemanding literature, detective fiction has nevertheless been practised by intellectual writers as well as popular authors.In addition, crime fiction is now experiencing a revival as an entertaining and yet socially committed form of fiction, which seems to offer an effective tool for a critique of contemporary society. After a theoretical and historical introduction, students analyse a selection of novels and short stories published from the 1950s to the 2000s. The set texts will be interpreted with the help of narratological, historical and social tools of analysis, in relation both to critical theories of the detective novel and to the specific development of romanzi gialli in the Italian context.


This module aims to:
- introduce students to the detective story as a sub-genre of the modern novel;
- situate the Italian development of the detective story in the historical, cultural, and linguistic context of the 20th century;
- familiarise students with key critical concepts in narratology, which will help them to analyse the set texts in terms of structure, language, and style.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module, students will demonstrate:
- understanding of the genre conventions which apply to the detective story
- understanding of how the individual authors study shape, obey, or manipulate and contradict genre conventions in their detective stories
- knowledge of the linguistic, poetic, political, and social issues raised in the novel
- awareness of the literary and cultural contexts in which the novels analysed are produced.

This module is taught by a specialist on Italian detective fiction. Students will therefore have the opportunity to benefit from research expertise on the topic. The module is student-led, and organized around weekly presentations and roundtables on assigned texts.

Skills outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate depth of knowledge of the prescribed texts in relation both to the critical theories of the detective story and to the historical, literary and cultural contexts in which the novels were produced;
- Demonstrate ability to work both independently and as part of a team, thus producing shared knowledge;
- Gather, evaluate and use information from secondary sources;
- Express, in written and oral contexts, clearly constructed, soundly based arguments, making effective use both of critical sources and independent judgement;
- Use IT effectively, both as a means of communication and as an aid to learning;
- Take personal responsibility for their own learning.


- History and theory of the detective novel. The Italian giallo
- The unfinished detective novel: Gadda's Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana (1957)
- The social detective novel: Sciascia's A ciascuno il suo (1966)
- Postmodernism: Eco's Il nome della rosa (1980) [or, Tabucchi's Il filo dell'orizzonte (1986)]
- Crime fiction in the 1990s and since: Camilleri, Carlotto, Lucarelli, Fois (selection).

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Reading set texts in preparation for lectures and seminars (90 hours)
- Researching/writing essays (80 hours)
- Preparation for seminar presentation (10 hours).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will receive informal feedback from the module tutor weekly in the form of class discussion.

More specific constructive feedback will be provided on the first essay (due mid-semester) and on the seminar presentation.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,500 words50.00
Essay2,500 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

In the case of failed module, alternative essays chosen from the original list may be resubmitted for a maximum of 40%. Reassessment is by essay only, each essay counting for 50%.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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