ITAL10080 Making Italy

Academic Year 2022/2023

Italy, as a united and independent state, came into existence in 1861, but prior to that a sense of being Italian was evident in 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 - 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 - key issues in modern Italy (specifically the economic miracle, terrorism and the mafia), as represented in selected Italian films. 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 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', as well as an overview of some of the most important modern literary movements; block of lectures on key issues for modern Italy (the economic miracle, terrorism and the mafia), as represented in selected Italian films.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




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:
Making Italy (ITAL 10080)

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 Blackboard.
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 Fifteen 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:
19th-20th centuries booklet (on Unification, Fascism, Ginzburg short story, Literary Movements) will be posted on Brightspace – this will be needed for tutorials/seminars in weeks 5-8
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), long loan
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), e-book through library
A. Stiles, The Unification of Italy: 1815-70 (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 2001) library long loan, also in Campus Bookshop
J. Whittam, Fascist Italy (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1995) library long loan, also in Campus Bookshop
The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002), e-book through library
The Cambridge History of Italian Literature (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996) e-book through library

For lectures 9-12:
Historical background:
Ginsborg, P., A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics 1943-1988 (London, Penguin, 1990). 

Mammone, A., Parini E.G., Veltri, G.A. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Italy: History, Politics, Society (London, Routledge, 2015).

Cinema history:
Bondanella, P., and Pacchioni, F., A History of Italian Cinema (London, Bloomsbury, 2017).

On comedy and modernization:
Lanzoni, R.F., Comedy Italian Style (London, Continuum, 2008). In particular, the chapter on The Easy Life.

On Mafia and terrorism:
Renga, D. ‘Modern Mob Movies: Twenty Years of Gangsters on the Italian Screen’ in P. Bondanella, The Italian Cinema Book (London, BFI, 2014), pp. 238-245.
Lombardi, G., ‘Screening Terrorism: Cinematic Portrayals of the Italian Armed Struggle’, in P. Bondanella, The Italian Cinema Book (London, BFI, 2014), pp. 246-253.

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 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