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Italian Studies

Guide for summer reading and preparation


Students are not expected to do any language preparation, however students who wish to refresh their knowledge or familiarise themselves with the language are advised to look at:

Nocchi, Susanna, New Italian Grammar in Practice: Exercises, Tests, Games. Alma Edizioni 2015 (ISBN 9788861824287).

Lia Proietti & Cinzia Ciulli, Da zero a cento. Alma Edizioni, 2005 (ISBN 9788889237038)

Nanni-Tate, Paola, Practice Makes Perfect Italian Verb Tenses 2/E (EBOOK): With 300 Exercises + Free Flashcard App. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing, 2013 (ISBN 9780071804509)

Free interactive exercises on:

Learning apps (grammar, reading, vocabulary, listening and comprehension from level A2)

Casa delle Lingue (from A1 to B1)

Watch videos on ALMA TV to develop your listening and comprehension skills (in particular the series ‘In viaggio con Sara’; ‘Città Italiane nel mondo’)

TV Shows in Italian

Watch news programmes on the Italian TV channel La 7



You can create your free account on and learn Italian through music and the lyrics of your favourite songs.

Some suggestions for reading:

Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words (London: Bloomsbury, 2007).
How do you go from being a complete beginner to writing a national best-seller in Italian? This dual-language book (in English and Italian) tells of the author’s passion and determination to learn Italian. This book should give you lots of motivation as well as some useful tips for language learning.

The Penguin parallel texts books are also excellent for beginners of Italian. They include several short stories with the Italian on one page and the English translation on the opposite page. Highly recommended if you want an introduction to Italian language and literature without having to read an entire novel.

Keep up to date with Italian news:

Corriere della sera: 

La Repubblica:

Il Post:


Preparation for Italian Culture

Those of you taking an Italian single honours or joint degree will take IT115: The History of Modern Italy. Those of you taking Italian as part of a 2 or 3-language degree can choose whether to take your cultural module in Italian or in one of your other language areas. IT115 looks at how Italy has changed beyond recognition in the last 100 years from a rural, agricultural society to one of the world’s largest economies. We trace the social, cultural and political development of Italy from the 1919 Treaty of Versailles to the rise of fascist dictatorship, World War II, the economic boom of the late 1950s and 60s, political extremism of the 1970s, the feminist movement, through to contemporary issues such as immigration and the recent years of economic and political crisis. During the seminars you will look at how works of art, poetry, novels and cinematic works have responded to these events and shaped their memory.

You don’t have to do any preparation before you arrive, but if you would like to get a head-start or read around the subject, there are some suggestions below. If you have any questions, please email

General Reading: History, Politics and Literature

John Foot, The Archipelago: Italy since 1945 (Bloomsbury, 2018). This is the main text that we will be using in Term 2. It is a very readable introduction to post-war Italy.

Christopher Duggan, The Force of Destiny: a History of Italy since 1796 (London: Allen Lane, 2007). Another good introduction to modern Italian history. I’d recommend you read it all, but for the purposes of the first-year module, you may want to focus on the latter part of the book which relates to the twentieth-century.

These two ‘Very Short Introduction’ books are around £5 on Amazon and are a good place to start:
Anna Cento Bull, Modern Italy: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2016)
Peter Hainsworth and David Robey, Italian Literature: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2012).

In term 1, we’ll be discussing the rise and consolidation of Italian Fascism. The DVD Fascism in Colour (2010) provides a good introduction to this and is available on YouTube here.

Initial Preparation

The History of Modern Italy starts with a lecture and seminar on Italian Futurism. You can have a look at some Futurist paintings from the galleries below. (see Gino Severini, Luigi Russolo, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Giacomo Balla).

There’s also some online talks and articles on the Italian futurist artist Tullio Crali: and an article


Antonio Pennacchi, Canale Mussolini (2010) [The Mussolini Canal]. This is the first novel we’ll study, but we’ll just be looking at extracts which will be provided for you, so you don’t need to read the entire novel or buy it.

Italo Calvino, ll sentiero dei nidi di ragno (1947). This is available in English translation as The Path to the Spiders' Nests and we’ll be discussing this novel and its representation of the Italian resistance through the eyes of a child towards the end of term 1.

Antonio Tabucchi, Sostiene Pereira (1994). This is available in English translation as either Pereira Declares or Pereira Maintains. It is a fictional story set in Lisbon in 1938. It questions the role of the writer and the relationship between literature and politics.
Amara Lahkous, Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio (Rome: Edizioni e/o, 2006). Translated into English as Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio. We won’t be studying this novel this year, but it is an entertaining work of detective fiction set in multicultural Rome.

Enrico Brizzi, Jack Frusciante e uscito dal gruppo (Transeuropa, 1994). Translated into English as Jack Frusciante has left the band. We won’t be studying this, but it is one of the most successful Italian novels of recent decades so you might be interested in reading it.