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The classics are those books about which you usually hear people saying : ‘I’m rereading … ’, never ‘I’m reading… ’. (Italo Calvino). Canon. ‘ the list of works considered to be permanently established as being of the highest quality’ (OED). Classic.

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(Italo Calvino)


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    1. The classics are thosebooksaboutwhichyouusuallyhear people saying: ‘I’m rereading…’, never ‘I’m reading…’ (Italo Calvino)

    2. Canon • ‘the list of works considered to be permanently established as being of the highest quality’ (OED)

    3. Classic • ‘judged over a period of a time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind’ (OED) • From Latin classis, ‘a division of the people, a grade, or a class of pupils’.

    4. Francesco De Sanctis • History of Italian Literature (1870-1871) • ‘ad uso de’ Licei’ • ‘Culture means the awakening of new ideas and the creation of new needs less materialistic than the old; the forming of a class of citizens more educated and refined; the linking of National culture with that of other countries; and also the bringing together of languages, and the development not so much of their local characteristics as of those which are common to all.’

    5. The PrimacyofLiterature • Giovanni Gentile’s reform of school (1922-1924). • Equivalence between beautiful, good and truthful. • ‘Italiano’ (i.e., the language studied through history and anthology of literature) is the first subject on the report card (pagella) of each and every student in Italian schools, from primary to high level.

    6. De Sanctis’ canon (1871) The Schoolcanon (1922-1990) Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Ariosto, Tasso, Galilei, Goldoni, Alfieri, Parini, Foscolo, Leopardi, Manzoni, Carducci, Pascoli, D’Annunzio, Verga, Pirandello, Svevo. • Dante • Machiavelli • Galileo • Vico • Giannone • Leopardi • Manzoni

    7. Italinemo

    8. WhatItalianTeachersHavetoKnow • DM 357 11/08/1998 ‘Programmi e prove di esame per le classi di concorso a cattedre e a posti di insegnante tecnico pratico e di arte applicata nelle scuole ed istituti di istruzione secondaria ed artistica.’ • Il candidato dovrà preparare una personale scelta di almeno dieci argomenti relativi alle principali correnti letterarie dalle origini ai nostri giorni, considerando di ciascuna corrente, per lettura diretta, gli autori più rappresentativi e riservando maggiore spazio ai secoli XIX e XX. Devono comunque essere oggetto di studio Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Tasso, Galilei, Goldoni, Parini, Alfieri, Foscolo, Leopardi, Manzoni, Verga, Carducci, Pascoli, D’Annunzio, Pirandello, Svevo, Ungaretti, Montale, Saba, Quasimodo, Pavese, Vittorini.

    9. Cultural Studies vs Literary Canon • ‘The very sphere of culture itself has expanded, becoming coterminous with market society in such a way that the cultural is no longer limited to its earlier, traditional or experimental forms, but it is consumed throughout daily life itself, in shopping, in professional activities, in the various often televisual forms of leisure, in production for the market and in the consumption of those market products, indeed in the most secret folds and corners of the quotidian. Social space is now completely saturated with the image of culture.’ • F. Jameson, The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-1998 (Brooklyn: Verso, 1998), p. 111.

    10. Advantages and Disadvantages Literary Canon Cultural Studies Individual Interest: investigating culture as a set of activities. Indifferencetovalues Dependent on Market Riskof the anti-canon: Films, Soap-operas, Football, Cuisine, Fashion as just anti-Literature • Community Building: offers students assured access to a storehouse of cultural materials. • Shared Values: enables students to absorb the values enshrined there. • Lack of Freedom: passively accepts that what tradition has set up. • Set Values: no criticism towards power and establishment.

    11. References • Allegoria, numero speciale sul canone, 29-30, x, maggio-dicembre 1998. • Innocenti, L. (ed.), Il giudizio di valore e il canone letterario (Rome: Bulzoni, 2000). • Onofri, M., Il canone letterario (Rome-Bari: Laterza, 2001). • Olivieri, U. (ed.), Un canone per il terzo millennio (Milan: Bruno Mondadori, 2001).