Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module ITAL3181: Italian Travellers' Tales

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Italian)

ITAL3181: Italian Travellers' Tales

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Italian Language 2B (ITAL2031) OR Italian Language 2A (ITAL2111) or an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' Progammes: Italian Language 4 (ITAL3021). Others: see Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to the questions concerning travel and mobility that lie at the heart of modern Italian culture.
  • To consider an extensive range of theoretical writing on the implications of mobility.
  • To explore major works of literary and visual culture which address issues of national and transnational belonging.
  • To consider the changing nature of representations of travel and mobility within modern Italian culture, from the period of colonialism in the early part of the 20th century to the contemporary moment of large-scale migration to Italy.
  • To analyse the nature of different kinds of travel and their inter-relation.
  • To use questions of travel and mobility as a lens through which to explore movements within Italian culture.


  • Although travel accounts claim to offer the reader an interpretation of another place, they often say as much about the travel writer's sense of self and own culture as they do of the foreign country. Written and visual representations of travel pose important questions concerning the development of national identities, the construction of stereotypes and the way in which otherness is perceived and represented, They reveal how cultures operate as systems of signs and how moving between cultures involves a negotiation of varying signifying practices. This module examines questions of genre in a number of contemporary accounts of travel. It explores different facets of travel, including tourism, pilgrimage, foreign correspondence, and migration. The course introduces students to important theoretical works on identity, memory, semiotics, postcolonial studies, migration and mobility. It explores works by Italian writers and film makers in the 20th and 21st centuries, including Bertolucci, Calvino and Ramzanali Fazel. The course will examine travel writing and colonialism, travel and the memory of fascism, travel and semiotics, contemporary representations of migration and mobility.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should develop an awareness of cultures are in a state of perpetual movement and how the analysis of representations of travel allow us to understand how cultures shift and develop.
  • Become familiar with works by major figures within Italian culture that address questions of travel and the implications of transnational displacement.
  • Develop an understanding of the complexities that surround the development of modern Italian culture through the examination of instances of travel within a colonial and post-colonial context.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should develop their understanding of key theoretical texts that address questions of mobility.
  • Develop their understanding of the complexity with which works of literary and visual culture address questions of travel and migration.
  • Develop their ability to examine the multiple levels at which texts communicate with their reader or viewer.
Key Skills:
  • Critical and analytical thinking.
  • Advanced essay writing and oral presentation skills.
  • Critical engagement with theoretical writing.
  • Independent learning and research.

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

  • The module will be taught in Term I and Term II.
  • Lectures (once weekly) will deliver key information about the module.
  • A bi-weekly seminar with smaller groups will allow for individual presentations and active discussions.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Seminar 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Student preparation and reading time 170
Total SLAT hours 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Research Proposal Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Proposal 1,500 words 100% No
Component: Final Project Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Final Project 3,500 words 100% No

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