Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Italian)


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap 30 Location Durham


  • Italian Language 1B (ITAL1102) OR Italian Language 1A (ITAL1071) or an equivalent to the satisfaction of the Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern Languages, Combined Honours and Joint and 'with' programmes: Italian Language 2B (ITAL2031) OR Italian Language 2A (ITAL2111). Others: see Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • N/A


  • To introduce students to a corpus of Italian literature and film representing the period immediately before, during and after World War II.
  • to study fascism and antifascism through historical documents, film, literary texts and various visual media.
  • The course will offer a modern alternative/complement to the other second year course on offer (Dante's Inferno and its Reflections in Literature, Art and Film).
  • It is also designed in relation to the final-year option which focuses on Modernism and Existentialism in Italian Literature and Film.
  • The course is designed for students with an intermediate knowledge of Italian language and intermediate reading skills in Italian.


  • The programme will vary according to the availability of material.
  • In term one the core texts will include the Futurist manifesto by Filippo Marinetti and the manifesto of futurist painters.
  • films of fascist propaganda such as Camice nere and Acciaio, postfascist films Una giornata particolare and II conformista and the antifascist novel Fontamara by Ignazio Silone.
  • The core texts for term two will be Giorgio Bassani's Gli occhiali d'oro (which will also be viewed in film), Italo Calvino's II sentiero dei nidi di ragno.
  • Films studied will include Roma citta aperta and Ladri di biciclette.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should:
  • gain a sense of the historical/artistic background of fascism,
  • become familiar with fascist aesthetics and the cultural production of the period,
  • understand how cultural media were used both by and against the regime,
  • examine the literary/artistic reaction to fascism as evidenced by the literature and film of the postwar years.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Develop further skills in the formulation of critical observations on Italian texts and other media.
Key Skills:
  • The expression of ideas in written form and critical reading.
  • The ability to seek out and identify appropriate sources of evidence and information.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • By the end of term two students should have acquired a broader view of the complexities of fascism and its effects on Italian culture thanks to the course of lectures: Lectures in the first term will look at the historical background of fascism, the twenty years of the regime and antifascism.
  • We shall study Futurism and Futurist aesthetics, move on to films of fascist propaganda and conclude with an examination of antifascist literature and film.
  • Term two focuses on literature and film produced in the aftermath of fascism.
  • After a study of the Jewish experience of fascism in Italy we look at the Resistance movement and end with an examination of neorealism.
  • Fortnightly seminars will be used to read, examine and analyse texts and visual media chosen for their relevance to the historical/cultural/artistic topic of the week.
  • Seminars will also involve continued development of presentation skills.
  • Independent learning will be encouraged by preparation for seminars and by research for the summative essay.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Summative Essay 2 Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2 2,500 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University