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Unit information: Naples: Culture, Identity and Nation in 2020/21

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Unit name Naples: Culture, Identity and Nation
Unit code ITAL30045
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Glynn
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Italian
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The Unification of Italy saw the decline of Naples from prestigious capital of the Kingdom of Sicily to a thorn in the side of the new Italian government, a position it occupies once again in the new millennium. This unit explores the fortunes of Naples within the modern Italian state, as conveyed in cultural production. It opens with a survey of a range of cultural forms and practices specific to Naples and of key contributions to discourses relating to relating to Neapolitan identity. It then proceeds to address the literary and cinematic representation of Naples at three key moments in time: at the foundation of the state; in the immediate post-war period and in the contemporary context. It explores the ways in which the city has been represented as alternately the quintessence of Italian identity and its vilified other; it raises issues relating to the feminization of the city in the cultural imaginary; the relationship between city and state in the decline of its industrial heritage; and the emergence and growth of the Camorra in the wake of that decline.

In addition to introducing students to the cultural production of Naples from the post-unification period to the present, this unit aims to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the role occupied by Naples in discourses relating to the Italian nation. It further aims to enhance students’ critical skills by introducing them to appropriate critical frames for the interrogation of contradictory and often contentious cultural texts. Finally, the unit seeks to further develop students’ critical and communicative skills through close analysis of a diverse range of texts and through the completion of oral presentations and written assignments.


  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to final year level. The content matter will normally include one or more of the following: literature; social, cultural or political history; linguistics; cultural studies; film, television or other media.
  • To facilitate students’ engagement with a body of literature, including secondary literature, texts, including in non-print media, primary sources and ideas as a basis for their own analysis and development. Normally many or most of these sources will be in a language other than English and will enhance the development of their linguistic skills.
  • To develop further skills of synthesis, analysis and independent research, building on the skills acquired in units at level I.
  • To equip students with the skills to undertake postgraduate study in a relevant field.

This unit carries a formative piece of assessment;

1 x 2-page essay plan

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. develop an understanding of the role occupied by the city of Naples in discourses relating to the Italian nation;
  2. select and synthesise relevant material from a significant body of sources (usually in Italian) to establish a conceptual framework interpreting those discourses;
  3. formulate sophisticated critical arguments in writing;
  4. apply clear communication skills orally.

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 3,000 word essay (70%),(ILOs 1-3);

1 x 15-minute individual presentation (30%) (ILOs 1-4);

Reading and References

Primary Texts:

Matilde Serao, Il ventre di Napoli (1884)

Eduardo De Filippo, Napoli milionaria! (1945)

Anna Maria Ortese, Il mare non bagna Napoli (1954) [selected extracts]

Liliana Cavani, dir., La pelle (1981)

Antonio Capuano, dir., Pianese Nunzio 14 anni a maggio (1996)

Roberto Saviano, Gomorra (2006)