Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Maltese Literature in English: Poetry

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit offers a critical retrospect of Anglophone poetry and poetry in English translation written in Malta after Independence in 1964 to date, framing it in the context of both local, European and Cold War political historiography. The study-unit covers the major figures that characterised the poetry scene throughout the period, from the poets of the Maltese Literature Revival (Moviment Qawmien Letterarju), to poets operating outside the MLR circuit. In the first set of sessions on the study-unit, the poetry of Daniel Massa, Mario Azzopardi, John Cremona and Victor Fenech is explored through the lens of the post-colonial processes as well as literary currents and ideological modes of belief, power and influence that characterised Malta, the Mediterranean, the European continent, the US and further afield throughout the Cold War and the post-Cold War periods. Notions of bilingualism, identity and language, cultural discourses of self and other, transnational influence, nationalist and post-nationalist aesthetics and politics, hybridity, trans-regional literary processes, Third World discourse, internationalism, resistance, Church-State relations in Malta and further afield will be looked at in relation to the primary texts assigned on the study-unit.

The latter part of the study-unit places the above in context of the more recent currents, trends and preoccupations of the last decade of the twentieth and the first decade of the twenty-first centuries, with a focus on writers like Immanuel Mifsud, Maria Grech Ganado, Abigail Ardelle Zammit, Norbert Bugeja and Adrian Grima. These lectures will offer insights into the major and emerging concerns of current Anglophone, bilingual and polyglot writing emerging from or based on Malta. Students on the study-unit will benefit from the study-unit lecturers' direct scholarly and creative involvement and activity in and around the local and regional literary scene.

Study-Unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to acquaint students with the response in poetry to the political, aesthetic, cultural and socio-economic implications of early post-colonial Malta, within the context of Anglophone writing and the politics of language as a salient marker of the permutations of the Maltese islands' journey in post-independence communal, national and religious identifications.

The aim of the study-unit is ultimately to offer students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the itinerary of post-independence Malta through a culturally-oriented perspective of an inter-disciplinary nature, drawing on political historiography, literary scholarship, post-colonial theory, the politics of language and translation dynamics.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Define the salient issues and questions pertaining to the relation between poetry, the politics and aesthetics of language and the post-independnece trajectory of Malta's anglophone poetry.
- Demonstrate knowledge of both the major thematics that characterised Malta's anglophone poetry in the latter part of last century and the early twenty-first century, as well as a grasp of the contexts that both motivated and were in turn impacted by this literary corpus.
- Display a mastery of the salient influences and issues, as well as the cultural, literary and language-political choices, aspirations and stances that characterised and continue to characterise Maltese poetry in English.
- Demonstrate a proficient grasp of the post-independence problematics and challenges faced by writers of the period, as well as to demonstrate a comparative ability in relating and associating the respective individual stylistic, aesthetic and political deployments of the poetry corpus to the broader context of the epoch.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Discuss the context of the events, colonial, national and communal relations that shaped Malta's anglophone poetry since the 1960s and be able to deliver an informed assessment of its ongoing implications.
- Assess and interrogate cutting-edge developments pertinent to Malta's poetry in English on the basis of knowledge acquired through the study-unit.
- Formulate informed opinions on Malta's evolving bilingual creative-writing context and project possible future scenarios on an informed knowledge of current trends and preoccupations in the field.
- Associate, relate and contextualise Malta's post-independence Anglophone poetry within and as part of the broader, trans-regional geopolitical urgencies affecting both the Mediterranean basin and the European continent.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Maltese Poetry in English: Daniel Massa, Victor Fenech, Mario Azzopardi, John Cremona, Immanuel Mifsud, Maria Ganado, Abigail Ardelle Zammit, Norbert Bugeja and Adrian Grima.
- Godfrey Baldacchino, “A Nationless State? Malta, National identity and the EU” in West European Politics, vol.25 no.4(2006) 191-206.
- Ivan Callus, “Maltese literature in theh language of the other: a case study in minority literatures’ pursuit of majority,” in Acta Scientaiarum Language and Culture, vol.31 no.1 (2009) 31-40.
- Isabelle de Coutrivon (ed.), Lives in Translation: Bilingual Writers on Identity and Creativity (Palgrave Macmillan: 2003).
- Jacques Derrida, Monolingualism of the Other: or, The Prosthesis of Origin (Stanford University Press: 1998).
- Henry Frendo & Oliver Friggieri (ed.) Malta: Culture and Identity (Ministry of Youth and Culture: 1994).
- Geoffrey Hull, The Malta Language Question: a Case Study in Cultural Imperialism (Said International Ltd: 1993).
- Victor Mallia-Milanes, The British Colonial Experience 1800-1964 (Malta, Mireva Academic Publications, 1988).
- Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature (James Currey Ltd / Heinemann: 2008).


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Norbert Bugeja

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.