Skip to main content Skip to navigation

IT334 Modern Italian Culture in Dialogue with Europe

Module Code: IT334
Module Name: Modern Italian Culture in Dialogue with Europe
Module Coordinator: Dr Mila Milani
Not running 2024-25
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

This module aims to enhance students’ understanding of how 20th-century Italian intellectuals have formed their cultural and political identity in dialogue with other European cultures. It will encourage students to reflect upon the shaping of Italian culture and politics outside the national borders, in relation to the main transnational political and literary movements. It will raise awareness of the role of translations and transnational contacts in shaping the relationship between politics and culture in Italy. Students will develop a detailed knowledge of the history of Italian intellectuals in the 20th century, by analysing a wide-range of cultural products, including poems, novels, literary translations, manifestos, editorial correspondence and journals.

Further info and updates: MoodleLink opens in a new window


Mondays, 5-7pm in H2.02 in weeks 2-5; 7-10 in Term 1. The first session will be on Monday 7th October 2019. No preparation is required.


Either one essay of 4000-4500 words OR one essay of 2000-2500 words plus one one-hour exam in the summer

Outline Syllabus

Week 1: Introduction
Drawing on a historical and sociological perspective, the first session will introduce students to the notion of ‘intellectual’, and raise their awareness how a transnational, rather than strictly national, perspective can further illuminate the history of intellectuals in Italy.

Week 2: Futurism and European avant-gardes
This session will discuss the relationships between Italian Futurism and the European, mainly French, avantgardes and will look more specifically at the case-studies of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Ardengo Soffici.
Week 3: Fascism and the decennio delle traduzioni
The lecture and seminar will look at role of translations and translators during Fascism and will critically discuss the so called ‘decennio delle traduzioni’ by looking at the translation work of Elio Vittorini and Cesare Pavese.
Week 4: Impegno, Translations and Post-War Journals
This session will discuss the role of post-war journals, and particularly Il Politecnico (1945-47), in shaping the notion of impegno through their dialogue with foreign intellectuals.
Week 5: Italian culture and the Cold War
The lecture and seminar will examine how Italian culture was shaped in relation to the dynamics of the Cold War. It will explore in detail the role of the Italian Communist Party and its relationship with publishers (i.e. Feltrinelli and Einaudi) and journal editors, and to what extent it influenced the reception of foreign culture in Italy.
Week 6: Reading week
Week 7: Intellectuals and Mass-culture
The session will look in detail at how intellectuals dealt with mass-culture phenomena by investigating more closely the intellectual and editorial work of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Italo Calvino.
Week 8: 1968 and the neoavanguardia
By looking at the less explored transnational connections of the neoavanguardia, the lecture and seminar will explore the role of Gruppo 63 in relation to the 1968 political and literary turmoil.
Week 9: Post-modern impegno
This session will reconsider the notion of impegno within a post-ideological framework and discuss it in relation to diverse cultural forms, including literary works as well as movies.
Week 10: Final session
This session will critically review the role and developments of Italian intellectuals in shaping the Italian culture from 1910 to 1990s.

Illustrative Bibliography

  • Antonello, Pierpaolo and Florian Mussgnug, eds. 2009. Postmodern Impegno: Ethics and Commitment in Contemporary Italian Culture. Oxford: Peter Lang.
  • Baranski, Z. G., and R. J. West. 2001. The Cambridge Companion to Modern Italian Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Bonsaver, Guido. 2000. Elio Vittorini: the Writer and the Written. Leeds: Northern Universities Press.
  • Bosworth, R. J. B. 2010. The Oxford handbook of fascism. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Brogi, Alessandro. 2011. Confronting America: The Cold War Between the States and the Communists in France and Italy. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press
  • Burns, Jennifer. 2000. Fragments of impegno. Interpretations of Commitment in Contemporary Italian Narrative, 1980-2000. Leeds: Northern Universities Press.
  • Collini, Stefan. 2010. Absent Minds. Intellectuals in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Forgacs, D., 1986. Rethinking Italian fascism: capitalism, populism and culture. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
  • Francese, Joseph. 2008. ‘The Engaged Intellectual: Calvino’s Public Self-Image in the 1960s’ Romance Studies 26 (2): 163-179.
  • Gentile, Emilio. 1990. ‘Fascism as Political Religion.’ Journal of Contemporary History, 25, 229–251
  • Gundle, Stephen. 2000. Between Hollywood and Moscow: the Italian Communists and the Challenges of Mass Culture, 1943-91. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press
  • Gundle, Stephen and David Forgacs. 2007. Mass Culture and Italian Society from Fascism to the Cold War. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
  • Ialongo, Enerst. 2015. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti: The Artist and His Politics. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
  • Körner, A., 2009. Politics of culture in liberal Italy: from unification to fascism. New York: Routledge
  • Morton, A. D., 2003. ‘Historicizing Gramsci: situating ideas in and beyond their context.’ Review of International Political Economy, 10, 118–146
  • Picchione, John. 2004. The New Avant-Garde in Italy: Theoretical Debate and Poetic Practices. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Rundle, Christopher. 2010. Publishing Translations in Fascist Italy. Bern: Peter Lang
  • Solovieva, Olga. ‘The Intellectual Embodied in His Medium, or the Cinematic Passion of Pier Paolo Pasolini.’ Italian Culture 29: 52-68
  • Ward, D. 2001/2. ‘Intellectuals, culture and power in postwar Italy.’ The Italianist 21/22: 291-318.
  • White, John J., 2010 ‘Futurism in Europe.’ In The Oxford Handbooks of Modernisms, ed. by Peter Brooker et al, Oxford: Oxford University Press.