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Durham University

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: Italian Studies

Narratives of Fascist and Postwar Italy

Academic Year 2019-20

This module is open to students who are taking Italian Language 2A or 2B. They will be introduced to a corpus of Italian literature and film (to be borrowed from the School's Film Library) representing the period ranging from the First World War to the era following the fascist ventennio (the twenty years of Fascist rule), up to the period of the anni di piombo (the so-called ‘years of lead’, a period of frequent terrorist attacks in Italy which roughly spans from 1969-83). The module will comprise a study of fascism, antifascism and post-war Italy principally based on historical documents and close readings of literary texts and film. Students will be able to acquire an understanding of the build-up to the fascist regime in Italy, its principles and dogmas, as well as some pro- and anti-fascist reactions during and after the ventennio. They should also acquire a clear perception of the longer-lasting impact of the fascist regime on Italian society and culture over and beyond the end of the regime itself. Close readings of the texts provided will also enable students to develop critical skills that will enable them to situate literary culture within one of the most dramatic periods of Italian political and cultural history.

Texts studied are likely to include:

  • Leonardo Sciascia, ‘l’antimonio’ (short story) in Gli zii di Sicilia (1958)
  • Carlo Levi, Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (1945); Turin: Einaudi, 2010
  • Italo Calvino, Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno (1947); Milan: Mondadori, 1993
  • Primo Levi, Se questo è un uomo (1947); Turin: Einaudi, 2014
  • Miriam Mafia (selections) Pane nero (1987); Rome: Ediesse, 2008
  • Cesare Pavese, La luna e i falò (1950); Turin: Einaudi, 2014
  • Natalia Ginzburg, Lessico famigliare (1963); Turin: Einaudi, 2014

Set Films

  • La donna nella resistenza, Liliana Cavani (1965)
  • Una giornata particolare, Ettore Scola (1977)
  • Buongiorno, notte, Marco Bellocchio (2003)

Recommended Introductory Reading

  • C. Burdett, C. Gorrara, H. Peitsch (eds.), European Memories of the Second World War; Oxford: Berghahn, 1999
  • F. Chabod, L'Italia contemporanea (1918-1948); Turin: Einaudi, 1961
  • M. Caesar, "Contemporary Italy (since 1956)", in P. Brand - L. Pertile (eds), The Cambridge History of Italian Literature; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, Chapter 42
  • G. Lichtner, Fascism in Italian Cinema since 1945: the Politics and Aesthetics of Memory; Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2013
  • D. Ward, Antifascisms: Cultural Politics in Italy, 1943-1946. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1996

Co-ordinator:

Term 1: Prof Charles Burdett (charles.f.burdett@durham.ac.uk), Room A27, Elvet Riverside 1

Term 2/3: Dr Cecilia Piantanida (cecilia.piantanida@durham.ac.uk), Room A40, Elvet Riverside 1

Further details of pre-requisites, co-requisites, aims, contact hours and assessment