GLITS 313 B: Literature Across Places

Winter 2024
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm / DEN 159
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
C LIT 361 B , ITAL 354 A
Beatrice Arduini
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

ITAL 354 A: Travels, Migrations, and Exile:

Encounters with the Other in Textual and Digital Archives

Jointly offered with

C LIT 361 B: Topics in Early Modern Literature

GLITS 313 B: Literature Across Places

Instructor: Dr. Beatrice Arduini  (

Class meets: MW 1:30 - 3:20 PM DEN259

Office Hours: By appointment in person or via Zoom

Course description:

This course examines a variety of attitudes toward poverty in the Italian Middle Ages, from traditional 'negative' views of poverty as a disgrace, to the recognition of the value of poverty as 'unrecognized wealth' in the Christian tradition and its political implications, to the shame and humiliation associated with incarceration and slavery. In addition to gaining historical background on the 14th and 15th centuries, students will engage in a digital project exploring how to archive the literary and visual tradition associated with these themes.


Marriage of St Francis to Lady Poverty. Detail of Giotto's frescoes on the vault of the presbytery of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italy.

Learning objectives:

  • better understanding of defining moments of Italian history
  • deeper critical sensibility about cultural perception of society
  • profounder comprehension of the dialogue between faiths and the literary representations and mis-representations of the different and the unknown
  • stronger analytical and writing skills.

Required Books:

There are no required books for this course. All readings will be available on Canvas. If you choose to purchase Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy, I recommend the translation by Allen Mandelbaum: all volumes Bantam Classics (Inferno 1980, Purgatorio 1982, and Paradiso 1984).  You can also find the Mandelbaum translation here (without endnotes) and here.  For The DecameronGiovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, translated by Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella, Signet Classics, 2010 (with a new afterword by Teodolinda Barolini).

Course materials:

Selected cantos from Dante's Divine Comedy (Inferno 1, 3, 6-7, 13, 17, 19, 27. Excerpts of Purgatory and Paradise cantos); Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron (Day 1, Story 1, and Day 2, Story 4); Giotto's Canzone of the Doctrine of Voluntary Poverty; Giotto's frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel and the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi; excerpts from The Book of Margery Kempe and William Wager's Enough is as Good as a Feast; Visit at the Seattle Art Museum

Course requirements and grading:

15% Participation in class discussion and class activities

30% Annotations with Hypothesis:  participate in the discussion and annotations of 4 sets of our reading assignments. Annotations may explain a term or concept in the text, and provide some context and comparisons with other readings

25% 5- 6 page Paper: propose one thematic grouping on the main theme of the class, using 3 to 5 items (texts, primary and secondary texts, artwork, visual and audio materials, such as YouTube videos, from premodern to contemporary times) from our class materials and from your own research. Situate each item in its historical context and describe its specific way of engaging your chosen theme. What similarities and differences exist among the items you selected? How does your proposed thematic grouping address one or more of the goals of the course?

30% Planning for an Omeka Museum Exhibit: In this assignment, you will transform the items and the thematic grouping you wrote your essay about for a museum exhibit, including an image and a descriptive “wall text” label. The items and theme for the paper should transfer over to the exhibit portion of the assignment. The theme you identify is intended to repeat across the two assignments, the paper and the building of the Omeka exhibit. Writing the descriptive “wall text” labels will generate new content and new items can be selected. Together, your individual pieces will make up an exhibition curated by our class. We will be talking about all the steps in more detail when we approach them with the UW digital librarians and you don't need any particular tech background to use Omeka.


The syllabus is going to be available on Canvas and may be changed at any time if necessary.
I will communicate changes to the schedule via Canvas.


Any use of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language in class or submission of such material will not be tolerated.


Catalog Description:
Strategies of reading and imagined dialogues between texts from disparate places. Topics vary.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
June 8, 2024 - 3:32 pm