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ML3202 From Aestheticism to the Avant-Garde

Convenor: Dr Daniela Cerimonia

Course tutors: Dr Ruth Hemus, Prof Eric Robertson, and Dr Daniela Cerimonia


Formative Piece (0%)
30% Essay (2,000 – 2,500 words)

70% Exam 


This course examines in depth, and in relation to each other, artistic and literary movements prevalent in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Italy and France. You will be introduced to key figures such as Gabriele d’Annunzio, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, French poets Rimbaud, Mallarmé, Apollinaire and Reverdy and study their work as examples of certain approaches to art and literature. We analyze in detail the contribution of the Italian Futurist movement and the French Cubo-Futurist, Dada and Surrealist movements to a variety of artistic disciplines, especially poetry, drama, painting, and cinema, in both Italy and Europe.

The course will equip you to compare the movements referred to above to other movements across Europe. You will further develop analytical skills and critical approaches to the literary text as well as techniques of comparative literary analysis with a particular focus on word and image relations in theory and practice.


Set texts

Gabriele d’Annunzio, Pleasure (Penguin Classics, 2013)
Stéphane Mallarmé, Un Coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard [A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance], 1897

Please note: details of additional reading material and set artworks will be available on Moodle

Secondary Literature: General, Theoretical, Introductory

On Aestheticism

Rhodes, Anthony, The Poet as Superman: The Life of Gabriele D’Annunzio (London, 1959)
Woodhouse, John, Gabriele D’Annunzio. Defiant Archangel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)
Bassnett, Susan. "A Passion for Dismemberment: Gabriele D'Annunzio's Portrayals of Women." Romancing Decay: Ideas of Decadence in European Culture, pp. 128-140
Spackman, Barbara. Decadent Genealogies: The Rhetoric of Sickness from Baudelaire to D'Annunzio. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1989

On the Avant-garde

Hopkins, David, Dada and Surrealism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)
Orban, Clara, The culture of fragments: word and images in futurism and surrealism (Amsterdam; Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1997)
Perloff, Marjorie, The futurist moment: avant-garde, avant guerre, and the language of rupture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986)
Poggi, Christine, In defiance of painting: cubism, futurism, and the invention of collage (New Haven: Yale University Press, c1992)
Rainey, Lawrence, Institutions of modernism: literary elites and public culture (New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press , c1998)
Sartini Blum, Cinzia, The Other Modernism. F. T. Marinetti’s Fiction of Power, (University of California Press, 1996)
White, John J., Literary futurism: aspects of the first avant-garde (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990)


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