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Unit information: Modern Italy in 2018/19

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Unit name Modern Italy
Unit code ITAL10033
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. O'Rawe
Open unit status Open

Must have Italian language competence



School/department Department of Italian
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit is designed to provide an introduction to the politics, culture and society of Italy from World War I to the present day. The unit works chronologically and is based around certain key texts which will be studied in detail in the seminars which accompany the lectures. The lectures will provide a broad historical, cultural and social introduction to each period. Students will be expected to engage with the history of Italy and with the use of a series of different kinds of text – film (documentary and fiction), novels, memoir, theatre, and journalism.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will:

  1. be able to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of specific historical events studied in the Italian post-WW1 period;
  2. be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of the theoretical debates surrounding the First and Second Italian Republics;
  3. be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of primary and secondary source materials and relate it to historical context.
  4. be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in conjunction with appropriate use of secondary literature;
  5. demonstrate advanced essay-writing skills, appropriate to level C, through a combination of one short focused piece and a longer comparative essay.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught in a combination of tutor- and student-led teaching, with one two hour weekly lecture and a one hour weekly seminar.

Assessment Details

1 x commentary of 1000 words (30%);

1 x essay of 2000 words (70%)

The essays will require the students to demonstrate historical knowledge of the period studied (ILO 1), bringing in some theoretical knowledge of debates on Italy’s First and Second Republics (testing ILO 2). In each essay, students will be expected to analyse one or more texts (literary/filmic/historical) and demonstrate their relationship to the historical context, thus testing ILO 3, and to draw appropriately on secondary literature to formulate their own arguments effectively (ILO 4).

The second essay is longer, allowing students to develop skills at longer essay writing in preparation for work at second year. The first essay will be on one text only, the second a comparative examination of two texts, testing ILOs 1- 5. Students will be required to develop their own bibliography, thus learning to begin to work independently.

Reading and References

Paul Ginsborg, A History of Contemporary Italy 1943-1988, Penguin, London, 1990.

Paul Ginsborg, Italy and its Discontents: 1980-2001, Penguin, London, 2001.

Christopher Duggan, A Concise History of Italy, CUP, Cambridge, 2014

John Foot, Modern Italy, Palgrave, London, 2014

Mary Wood, Italian Cinema, Bloomsbury, London, 2005.

Italian Cultural Studies: An Introduction, ed. David Forgacs and Robert Lumley, OUP, Oxford, 1996.