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IT115-30 The History of Modern Italy

School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Joanne Lee
Credit value
Module duration
22 weeks
50% coursework, 50% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

The module traces the social, cultural and political development of Italy from the 1919 Treaty of Versailles to the rise of fascist dictatorship, the Second World War, the economic boom of the 1950s and 60s, political extremism of the 1970s, the rise of immigration, through to the more recent economic and political crisis. It examines how literary and cinematic texts have constituted a response to these events.

Module web page

Module aims

The module aims to develop students’ understanding and appreciation of these social, cultural and political events which have contributed to the nature and identity of Italy today, so that they have a broad understanding of modern Italy in preparation for both their year abroad and for further study of Italian culture.

The module also aims to build students’ abilities in critical textual analysis and develop their independent research skills and essay writing skills to enable them to progress to further study. Students will be encouraged to use Italian texts in order to develop their language skills.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Treaty of Versailles 1919, Italy in the aftermath of WWI, Futurism
Week 2: The rise of Fascism and the March on Rome, 1922
Week 3: The consolidation of Fascism, propaganda, censorship, gender roles
Week 4: Fascism at War; Colonial Italy
Week 5: The armistice of 1943, Resistance and Liberation
Week 6: Reading week
Week 7: Neorealism and Italian intellectual culture
Week 8: Post-war settlement, the new constitution, 1948 elections
Week 9: 1950s political culture; Christian Democracy and Italy in the Cold War. Italy and the EEC (EU)
Week 10: Recap and review

Term 2:
Week 1: Economic Boom, urbanisation and social change
Week 2: Movements of protest. The women’s movement. Divorce and Abortion referenda.
Week 3: Gli anni di piombo: political extremism and terrorism. Piazza Fontana bombing (1969 and murder of Aldo Moro (1978)
Week 4: Mafia and Anti-mafia
Week 5: Mani pulite and Tangentopoli scandals of 1990s
Week 6: Reading week
Week 7: Silvio Berlusconi and Forza Italia
Week 8: The Italian left
Week 9: Contemporary immigration
Week 10: Crisis of Democracy: from economic crisis to 2016 constitutional referendum

Term 3: revision and exam preparation

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Identify and outline the major social, political and cultural events of Italy since 1919.
  • Demonstrate a sound knowledge and sensitivity towards these issues and events and understand how they have contributed to the nature and identity of Italy today
  • Engage critically with primary texts as well as secondary literature
  • Develop a thorough understanding of a selection of texts and analyse how they engage with questions central to modern Italian culture.
  • Develop research abilities, analytical skills and written communication skills
  • Demonstrate an enhanced familiarity with the Italian language.
Indicative reading list

Italo Calvino, ll sentiero dei nidi di ragno (1947)
Antonio Pennacchi, Canale Mussolini (2010) extracts.
Antonio Tabucchi, Sostiene Pereira (1994)
Amara Lakhous, Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio (2006)

Ettore Scola, Una giornata particolare (1977)
Roberto Rossellini, Roma citta aperta (1945)
Federico Fellini, La dolce vita (1960)
Marco Bellocchio, Buongiorno notte (2003)
Marco Tullio Giordana, I cento passi (2000)
Nanni Moretti, Il Caimano (2006)

View reading list on Talis Aspire


All modules delivered in SMLC are necessarily international. Students engage with themes and ideas from a culture other than that of the UK and employ their linguistic skills in the analysis of primary materials from a non-Anglophone context. Students will also be encouraged to draw on the experiences of visiting exchange students in the classroom and will frequently engage with theoretical and critical frameworks from across the world.

Subject specific skills

This module will develop students’ linguistic skills through engaging with primary materials in the target language. It will build students’ capacity to engage with aspects of Italian culture through analysis of this primary material and through seminar discussion aimed at deeper critical thinking. In particular, students’ awareness of the history of modern Italy will be enhanced through lectures and seminars which engage in scholarship in the field.

Transferable skills

All SMLC culture modules demand critical and analytical engagement with artefacts from target-language cultures. In the course of independent study, class work and assessment students will develop the following skills: written and oral communication, creative and critical thinking, problem solving and analysis, time management and organisation, independent research in both English and their target language(s), intercultural understanding and the ability to mediate between languages and cultures, ICT literacy in both English and the target language(s), personal responsibility and the exercise of initiative.

Study time

Type Required Optional
Lectures 20 sessions of 1 hour (7%)
Seminars 20 sessions of 1 hour (7%)
Tutorials (0%) 9 sessions of 1 hour
Private study 260 hours (87%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

Student are expected to read the set texts each week, prepare for the seminar discussions, read critical works on the texts in preparation for their assessed essays.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group C2
Weighting Study time
Written Assignment 1 25%
Written Assignment 2 25%
Online Examination 50%

~Platforms - AEP

  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
Feedback on assessment

Feedback will be provided in the course of the module in a number of ways. Feedback should be understood to be both formal and informal and is not restricted to feedback on formal written work.
Oral feedback will be provided by the module tutor in the course of seminar discussion. This may include feedback on points raised in small group work or in the course of individual presentations or larger group discussion.
Written feedback will be provided on formal assessment using the standard SMLC Assessed Work feedback form appropriate to the assessment. Feedback is intended to enable continuous improvement throughout the module and written feedback is generally the final stage of this feedback process. Feedback will always demonstrate areas of success and areas for future development, which can be applied to future assessment. Feedback will be both discipline-specific and focussed on key transferrable skills, enabling students to apply this feedback to their future professional lives. Feedback will be fair and reasonable and will be linked to the SMLC marking scheme appropriate to the module.

Past exam papers for IT115


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of ULNA-QR38 Undergraduate English and Italian
  • Year 1 of ULNA-RR15 Undergraduate French and Italian
  • Year 1 of ULNA-R4RH Undergraduate Hispanic Studies and Italian
  • Year 1 of UITA-R3V2 Undergraduate History and Italian
  • Year 1 of ULNA-R3L4 Undergraduate Italian and Economics (4-year)
  • Year 1 of UPOA-M165 Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and Italian

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 1 of ULNA-R3Q3 Undergraduate Italian and Linguistics
  • Year 1 of UFRA-R900 Undergraduate Modern Languages
  • Year 1 of UITA-R3V3 Undergraduate Taught Italian and History of Art

This module is Core option list A for:

  • Year 1 of UITA-R3W5 Undergraduate Italian with Film Studies
  • Year 1 of UPOA-M165 Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and Italian

This module is Core option list B for:

  • Year 1 of ULNA-R9Q2 Undergraduate Modern Languages with Linguistics

This module is Option list A for:

  • Year 1 of UITA-RQ38 Undergraduate Italian and Classics