Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module ITAL3201: Centres and Margins across Italian Literatures and Media

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Italian)

ITAL3201: Centres and Margins across Italian Literatures and Media

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap 30 Location Durham


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


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

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Developing a critical understanding of the role of mobility in the construction of Italian identity, by Italian and foreign writers, with a special attention to marginal areas, groups, languages, and ethnicities.
  • Understanding the marking out of places (and groups) through various media as marginal, as part of the nation-building process.
  • Considering a variety of texts negotiating centres and margins within the Italian peninsula.
  • Exploring various genres and media.


  • Reportages about Italy, travel accounts 19th century- to date by Italian or foreign authors (in a comparative perspective when relevant);
  • women travellers;
  • novels and short stories with a strong spatial element and/or where the issue of marginality is addressed;
  • photographic books;
  • Radio programmes, TV programmes, documentaries.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module, students should / will / are expected to:
  • Become familiar with works by relevant figures within modern Italian culture that are engaged with mobility and/or address questions of marginality. Topics to be explored include: the mediatic representation of the South; the mediatic representation of ghettoes, peripheries, secluded areas, location of confinement; travel reportages, with or without the use of pictures and drawings; texts written for the radio or the TV; documentaries addressing the issue of marginality within the Italian society
  • Become familiar with how centres and margins of the modern Italy (before and after the Unification) are described/addressed from within and from the outside (foreign travellers)
  • Become familiar with a variety of cultural contexts of modern Italian culture where the issue of marginality becomes relevant politically, socially, intellectually and on a mediatic level.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students should / will / are expected to:
  • Understand how cultural centres and margins are constructed through different media
  • Become critical of the posture and ethos of the authors and their function in the construction of different cultural products
  • Understand the relation between the observer and the observed across different media: text, photography, radio, tv, film.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students should / will / are expected to:
  • Develop critical thinking
  • Engage in independent research
  • Develop advanced oral presentation and writing skills; in case of choice of the digital assessment, to develop basic digital skills for presentation and dissemination of research results.

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

  • The module will be taught in Terms I and II.
  • Lectures - module material will be presented, contextualised and examined critically, focusing on the historical and cultural developments of the major themes embodied in the different texts. Lectures are accompanied by hand-outs, PowerPoint presentations, and preparatory material included on Blackboard Learn Ultra.
  • Seminars with smaller groups will allow for emphasis on student participation and group discussion. Seminars will involve a range of teaching and learning practices including close textual reading/analysis, individual and/or group presentations, but will mostly devoted to class discussion
  • Summative 1: 2000-words essay OR digital project (40%). The project – a 15 mins digital presentation of key concepts (based on written notes of around 2000 words), or a 2000 word essay – should engage critically and apply the theoretical knowledge gained during the course to the analysis of at least one of the films/texts/sources studied during the term. There will be scope for students to include other objects of study related to the topic provided they agree this with the course convenor. The presentation is designed to educate the students to present academic content in an engaging, thought-provoking, communicative way and also to practise oral presentation skills.
  • Summative 2: 3000-words final research 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: Critical Analysis Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay OR digital project 2,000 words OR 15 minute digital presentation 100% No
Component: Research Essay Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Essay 3,000 words 100% No

Formative Assessment:

Formative work will include peer/question-driven discussions during seminars. Oral feedback and comments from both peers and tutors are provided regularly in the course of the seminar discussion.

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