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IT116-30 Introducing Italy: Local and Global Perspectives

School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Joanne Lee
Credit value
Module duration
22 weeks
65% coursework, 35% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

How do we define Italy? What do we mean by Italian culture and identity? One of the defining features of Italy has been how it has engaged with other countries, powers and cultures throughout its history, even before it officially became a nation state in 1861. This module examines how Italian identities have been formed through interaction with other cultures and how Italian thought and culture has shaped the world around us from medieval times to the present day. The module traces the development of a standard Italian language and its relationship with dialects and local identities. It examines the processes leading to the establishment of an Italian nation state. We will consider internal diversity within Italy (regional and linguistic diversity, ethnic diversity, gender and sexuality), before moving on to look at Italy's cultural influence globally, from anglophone receptions of Dante's Divine Comedy and the influence of Renaissance thought in Europe, to stardom in Italian film. The last section of the module questions the impact of mobility on questions of belonging, examining Italian emigration, the colonial period, and contemporary immigration. The module aims to situate the study of Italy within a global perspective, whilst maintaining a focus on local specificities.

Module aims

The module aims to develop students’ understanding and appreciation of the various historical and cultural processes which have contributed to the nature and identity of Italy today. It aims to develop an appreciation of internal diversity within Italy as well as an understanding of how Italian art, architecture, literature, cinema and political and intellectual thought has influenced global culture.

The module provides a broad transhistorical and transnational understanding of Italy in preparation for the study of modules in Italian culture at honours level.

The module also aims to build students’ abilities in critical 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 Italian 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: Introducing Italy: overview of module
Week 2: Questions of language and identity: dialects and standard Italian
Week 3: Questions of language and identity: the making of the nation
Week 4: Questions of language and identity: linguistic diversity in Italy today
Week 5: Questions of language and identity: global languages and contemporary Italian
Week 6: Reading week
Week 7: Individual identities: regional and ethic diversity
Week 8: Individual identities: gender and sexuality
Week 9: Individual identities: gender and sexuality
Week 10: Icons of Italy: Stardom and Cinema

Term 2
Week 1: Icons of Italy : Dante and the making of the nation
Week 2: Icons of Italy: The reception of Dante abroad
Week 3: Icons of Italy: Renaissance humanism and influence on European culture
Week 4: Icons of Italy: Renaissance culture and global icons
Week 5: Mobility and Migration: travel during the Renaissance
Week 6: reading week
Week 7: Mobility and Migration: Italian communities abroad
Week 8: Mobility and Migration: Italian colonialism and empire
Week 9: Mobility and Migration: Contemporary immigration
Week 10: Mobility and Migration: Transnational Italy

Term 3:
Week 1: Icons of Italy: student presentations
Week 2: Icons of Italy: student presentations

Learning outcomes

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

  • Identify and outline the major developments and historical processes which shaped the formation of the Italian language and nation.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation and sensitivity towards the diversity of Italian identities both local and global.
  • Engage critically with primary texts as well as secondary literature
  • Develop an understanding of a selection of cultural artefacts and analyse how they engage with questions of Italian identity.
  • Develop research abilities, analytical skills and written communication skills
  • Demonstrate an enhanced familiarity with the Italian language.
  • Understand the position of Italy and Italian culture within a global context.
Indicative reading list

Christopher Duggan (2007) The Force of Destiny: a history of Italy since 1796
Christopher Duggan (2013) A Concise History of Italy
Charles Burdett & Loredana Polezzi (2020) Transnational Italian Studies
Andrea Mammone, Ercole Giap Parini, Giuseppe Veltri, eds (2015) The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Italy
Michael Wyatt, ed. (2014) The Cambridge Companion to the Italian Renaissance

Dante Alighieri, L'Inferno, trans. Robin Kirkpatrick (Penguin, 2006) extracts
Amara Lakhous (2006) Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore in Piazza Vittorio
Igiaba Scego, ‘Salsicce’ in Pecore nere ed. by F. Capitani and E. Coen (Rome/Bari: Laterza 2005 [2003], pp. 23-36)
Igiaba Scego, ‘Dismatria’ in Pecore nere ed. by F. Capitani and E. Coen (Rome/Bari: Laterza, 2005, pp. 5-21)
FILM: Ettore Scola, Una giornata particolare (1977)
FILM: Emanuele Crialese, Terraferma (2011)
FILM: Luca Guadagnino, Chiamami col tuo nome (2017)
Netflix series: Zerocalcare (2021) Strappare lungo i bordi

Research element

Independent research is required for the essay and presentation. The presentation will require students to research an 'icon' of their choice and present their findings.


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 identity and influence of 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 engage with pre-seminar activities, prepare any set readings for seminars, prepare presentations, 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 D
Weighting Study time
Short essay or commentary 20%
Written Assignment 2 30%
Individual Presentation 15%

A 10 minute presentation on a chosen 'Icon of Italy'

Examination 35%

2 hours examination on thematic topics across both terms

~Platforms - WAS

  • 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 IT116


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of ULNA-R300 BA in Italian Studies
  • Year 1 of ULNA-QR38 Undergraduate English 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 Core option list B for:

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

This module is Core option list C for:

  • Year 1 of ULNA-R9Q1 Undergraduate Modern Languages and Linguistics

This module is Option list A for:

  • Year 1 of UITA-RQ38 Undergraduate Italian and Classics