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Unit information: Destination Italy: Cultural Responses to Migration in 2020/21

Unit name Destination Italy: Cultural Responses to Migration
Unit code ITAL20032
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Glynn
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Italian
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit explores cultural representations of migration and migrants to Italy, from the 1980s to the present. It situates those representations in relation to Italy’s rapid transition from a country of emigration to a net receiver of migrants, and to the ways in which the experience of migration to Italy has compelled the country to recognise and tackle its colonial past. It further addresses the role of migration in shaping and reshaping Italian identity over time.

The unit will be structured around the analysis of representations in three different media: news reports focussing on distinct migration ‘crises’; cinematic texts addressing the encounter between Italians and migrants; and literary texts by migrants and ‘new’ Italians, which ‘talk back’ to Italian understandings of migrants and migration.

The unit aims to:

  • acquaint students with the history of migration to Italy and with dominant tendencies in the representation of migrants and migration.
  • equip students with the appropriate tools (theoretical and linguistic) to understand and to articulate their interpretation of such representations.
  • expand students’ knowledge of Italian culture and to refine their critical and communication skills.

This unit carries a piece of Formative assessment:

1 x 15-minute group presentation

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge of migration to Italy and its varied representation in cultural production across Italian prose and film;
  2. develop an understanding of the context in which cultural representations of migration to Italy occur and with which they engage;
  3. select and synthesise relevant material to establish a conceptual framework for the interpretation of representations of migration;
  4. formulate sophisticated critical arguments in writing.
  5. develop and enhance clear oral communication skills.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation

Assessment Details

1 x group presentation (30%). Testing ILOs 1,2, 3, and 5

1 x 2500-word essay (70%). Testing ILOs 1-5

1 x formative group news review (required to pass). Testing ILOs 1-4.

Reading and References

Pap Khouma, Io venditore di elefanti (1990)

Amara Lakhous, Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio (2006)

Cristina Ali Farah, Madre piccola (2007)

Flavia Capitani and Emanuele Coen (ed), Pecore nere (2015)

Gianni Amelio, dir., Lamerica (1994)

Manetti bros., Zora la vampira (2000)

Paola Randi, dir, Into Paradiso (2010)

Graziella Parati, Migration Italy: The Art of Talking Back in a Destination 'Culture (Toronto UP, 2005)

Graziella Parati, Mediterranean Crossroads: Migration Literature in Italy (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1999)

Emma Bond, Guido Bonsaver and Federico Faloppa, Destination Italy: Representing Migration in Contemporary Media and Narrative (Peter Lang, 2015)