This book proposes the study of literary texts as a vital component of L2 linguistic and cultural knowledge. The research, conducted with students of Italian in Australia, is situated in the wider L2 context, and compared to studies on students' perceptions of English and French literary texts in countries such as Canada, Italy, Australia, Germany and the Ukraine. The first part of the book takes the debate on the inclusion of literature in language education as a springboard for posing crucial questions about how students, and educators, view literature. The theoretical framework draws from educational, linguistic, philosophical and literary theories, and focuses on the role of awareness in learning and the role of the learner's experience. The second part of the book evaluates an innovative approach to teaching and learning L2 literature, and discusses the application of this to the language classroom. Containing a balance of theoretical and practical concerns, this book will be invaluable reading for researchers of applied linguistics and second language acquisition.