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IT6: Modern Italian Culture

This paper is available for the academic year 2019-20.


This paper allows you to study a wide range of different texts and topics from within Italian culture of the modern era, broadly stretching from the unification of Italy to the present day. It focuses on texts of different kinds (novels, poetry, drama, short stories), works in different media (written texts, film, visual arts), and different modes of cultural enquiry (literary criticism and theory, intellectual and cultural history, cultural sociology and philosophy), to give you a rich sense of the variety and complexity of modern Italian culture and history.  There are no compulsory texts or topics: you will select four or five of the topics on offer in any one year and study each in a combination of lectures / seminars and supervision.



Topics for 2019-20:

1: Satire in Modern Italy

2: Migration and Modern Italy

3: The Secular and the Sacred

4: Italian Science-Fiction and the Post-Human

5: Women, Family and Society in Post-Unification Italy (1861-1919)





Preparatory reading: 

In addition to familiarising yourself with the primary texts for each topic you are interested in, you should consult the following for general background:

  • P Brand and L. Pertile, eds, Cambridge History of Italian Literature
  • C. Duggan, A Concise History of Italy
  • D. Forgacs and R. Lumley eds, Italian Cultural Studies
  • R. Gordon, Introduction to 20th-Century Italian Literature. A Difficult Modernity
  • P. Hainsworth and D. Robey eds, Oxford Companion to Italian Literature
  • G. Moliterno ed, Encyclopedia of Contemporary Italian Cutlure
  • Oxford Illustrated History of Italy
Teaching and learning: 

Each topic will be taught in a series of 4 lectures / seminars and 2 supervisions during MT and LT. You are expected to study at least four topics. There will be revision teaching in ET.

For the It.6 Moodle site, please see here


The paper will be assessed by a three-hour written exam. There will be at least four questions on each topic and you will be required to answer three questions on three different topics.

The exam paper may be substituted by an Optional Dissertation.

Course Contacts: 
Professor Robert Gordon