ITAL10080 Making Italy

Academic Year 2023/2024

Italy, as a united and independent state, came into existence in 1861, but prior to that a sense of being Italian was evident in some of the writings of Italy's foremost intellectuals.Whether these writers created in their readers a sense of being Italian and to what extent, even today, Italians prioritise a sense of 'Italian-ness' has been and continues to be the subject of much debate. This module will focus on three crucial aspects of 'Italian-ness', leading to the creation of modern Italy: - the emergence of Italian as a regional (Tuscan) dialect which became, first a literary standard, and much later, an all-purpose spoken language - an introduction to the literature of Italy's Medieval and Renaissance periods, focussing on extracts from the works of Dante, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, and Ariosto and their enduring popularity and influence - the process of Unification and its ensuing problems (including the rise of Fascism), as well as an overview of key Italian literary movements of the 20th century with a particular focus on one short story. Teaching is in the form of weekly lectures and seminars. Assessment is by means of a short essay in week 5, which relates to the first block of the module, and a 2-hour examination (based on essay-type questions) relating to the second and third blocks at the end of the second trimester.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students should be able to: read and comprehend selected poetic and prose passages in their cultural context; demonstrate a critical and factual understanding of the development of the Italian language and of key periods of Italian history through offering an analysis of selected texts and/or events in essay form; present ideas orally and engage in critical discussion.

Indicative Module Content:

Block of lectures and seminars offering a brief introduction to, and grounding in, the history and development of the Italian language; block of lectures and seminars on early Italian texts, including some by the canonical 'greats' of Italian literature, Dante, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Ariosto; block of lectures and seminars on key moments in Italian history (Unification, Fascism) and an introduction to the work of Natalia Ginzburg, one of the most well-known Italian writers of the twentieth century, through her short story 'La madre'.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures; seminars which will involve peer and group work; active/task-based learning; critical writing 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

This module would be an ideal complement to the second semester module in Italian language, ITAL 10030.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: 2-hour end of semester essay-type examination questions 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Essay: 1,000 word essay Week 5 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive individualised comments on the short essay they have written for assessment, and submitted in week 5, within 20 working days of the assessment submission.

Reading List:
Making Italy (ITAL 10080)
Reading List:
For lectures 1-4:
Core readings - indicated selections from the following texts:
ITAL10080 Lecturettes.Very short texts accompanying the lectures (as opposed to replacing them). Available on Brightspace.
Dalby, A. 2004. Italian. In Dalby, A. 2004. Dictionary of languages. London: Bloomsbury. Available on Brightspace.
Lepschy, A.L. and Lepschy, G. 1988. The Italian Language Today, London. Pp. 11-40. [3 copies, 450 LEP] - it’s recommended to buy this book, which is available in the campus bookshop.
Maiden, M. 1995. A Linguistic History of Italian, London: Longman, pp. 3-7. Available on Brightspace. [450.9 MAI, SLC 450.9 MAI]
Parry, M. Italian (Romance vernaculars). In G. Price, Encyclopedia of the languages of Europe. Oxford: Blackwell. Available on Brightspace.
Richardson, B. ‘Questions of Language’, in West, R and Barański, Z. (eds). 1995. The Cambridge Companion to Modern Italian Culture. Esp. pp.63-79 [306.0945 BAR, 2 copies SLC 306.0945 BAR]

Historical background: at least one of the following:
Duggan, C. 1994. A Concise History of Italy. Cambridge University Press.
Hearder, H. Italy: A Short History. Cambridge, 1990. [2 copies, SLC 945 HEA]
Hearder, H. and Waley, D. P. A Short History of Italy. Cambridge, 1963 [3 copies, SLC 945 HEA]
Procacci, G. 1970. History of the Italian People. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. [945/PRO]
Schumann, R. Italy in the last 15 hundred years. University Press of America, 1986. [3 copies SLC 945 SCH]

General literary and linguistic histories (for reference, useful for selected topics)
Italian Literature, in Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., 1974 [2005]. (accessible online via Brightspace)
Italian History, in Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., 1974 [2005]. (accessible online via Brightspace)
Migliorini, B. and Griffith, G. 1966. The Italian Language. London. [2 copies, 450.9 MIG]

For lectures 5-8: Beecher, Donald, Massimo Chiavolella, and Roberto Fedi, eds. Ariosto Today: Contemporary Perspectives. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. [851/ARI/B]
Black, Robert. Machiavelli. London: Routledge, 2013. [320/MAC/B]
Burke, Peter. The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013. [945.05/BUR]
Jacoff, Rachel, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Dante. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. [851/DAN/J]
Mazzotta, Giuseppe. ‘Italian Renaissance Epic’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Epic, ed. Catherine Bates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 93-118. [809.1/BAT]
Migiel, Marilyn, The Ethical Dimension of the Decameron. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015 [853 BOC/M]
Scott, John A. Understanding Dante. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004. [851/DAN/S]
Skinner, Quentin. Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. [854/MAC/S]
Wallace, David, Decameron. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991 [853 BOC/W]

Online Resources* All the Dante resources contain the full text of the Inferno, plus commentaries *
Dante Worlds Project (University of Texas, Austin).
World of Dante Project (University of Viriginia)
Digital Dante Project (Columbia University)
Discover Dante Project (University of Leeds)
Internet Medieval Sourcebook (Fordham University). Full text of Machiavelli’s The Prince, searchable
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, entry on Machiavelli
Extracts (in English) from Dante,Boccaccio, Machiavelli and Ariosto will be on Brightspace. Various editions and translations are also available in the library and in the bookshop.

For lectures 9-12: 19th-20th centuries booklet (on Unification, Fascism, Ginzburg short story) will be posted on Brightspace – this will be needed for tutorials/seminars in weeks 9-12
Z.G. Barański & R.J. West (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Modern Italian Culture (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001)
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945 (University of California Press, 2001), available as long loan, SLC and as e-book from library
R.J.B. Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy: Life Under the Fascist Dictatorship (Penguin, 2007) - long loan, week loan & SLC
P. Ginsborg, Italy and its discontents: family, civil society, state, 1980-2001 (London, Penguin, 2003)
Axel Korner, The Politics of Culture in Liberal Italy: From Unification to Fascism (Routledge Studies in Modern European History, 2008) - available as long loan, week loan & e-book through the library
L. Riall, Garibaldi: Invention of a Hero (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2007)
A. Stiles, The Unification of Italy: 1815-70 (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 2001)
J. Whittam, Fascist Italy (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1995)
The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002)
The Cambridge History of Italian Literature (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996)

Name Role
Assoc Professor Paolo Acquaviva Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Marco Bellardi Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Bianca Cataldi Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Ursula Fanning Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Matteo Leta Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Valeria Taddei Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Mon 11:00 - 11:50
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 13:00 - 13:50
Seminar Offering 2 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Wed 12:00 - 12:50