Italian Cinema and Literature - IT548

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR A Sforza Tarabochia


None. IT506 is advised but not compulsory.





This module discusses contemporary film adaptations (90s-2000s) taken from four different Italian textual sources (children's tale, monologue, novel and non-fiction) under the following main aspects:

  • as "parallel" works which supplement the original literary texts. Films expand, update and adjust the themes of the original literary texts to the historical, social and cultural context in which the adaptations are made.
  • as works of literary criticism. The way the narrative of a film adaptation is structured and the way a film chooses to selectively focus on some particular episodes and themes is evidence of how the film director critically analyses the literary text and "re-writes" it in the form of a screenplay and in the editing of the material filmed;
  • as an altogether "new" product that structurally differs from the original literary source. Cinema's language relies on signifying images or visual signs that are irreducible to those of written and spoken languages;
  • finally, we will analyse the impact that filmmaking had on the art of writing, assessing the extent to which contemporary novels are often already written with the big screen in mind.
  • Details

    This module appears in:

    Contact hours

    2 hours per week

    Method of assessment

    100% Coursework

    Preliminary reading

    Indicative Reading:

    - Film: Roberto Benigni 2002
    - Book: Collodi, Le avventure di pinocchio, various editions. PN 2688.C4, (English Translation: Penguin Classics PN 2688.C41)

    - Film: La leggenda del pianista sull'oceano (Tornatore)
    - Book: Alessandro Baricco, Feltrinelli 1994 PN2878.I2 (English Translation: Novecento: pianist, Perfect Paperbacks) [the English version of Novecento is out of print, the monologue will be read in Italian].

    Io non ho paura
    - Film: Gabriele Salvatores 2003
    - Book: Niccolò Ammaniti, Einaudi 2001 (English Translation: I'm not scared, Canongate 2004)

    - Film: Matteo Garrone, 2008
    - Book: Roberto Saviano,Gomorra, 2006

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

    Learning outcomes

    1) To display a systematic, detailed and cogent understanding of contemporary and classic works of Italian literature and their cinematic adaptations
    2) To demonstrate an ability to describe and comment on major critical debates on Italian cinema and literature and relate Italian film adaptations to a wider European and extra- European context
    3) To deploy accurately established and discipline-specific techniques of analysis and enquiry in the exploration of Italian literary and cinematic products in their socio-historical context
    4) To make use of high-level secondary material, including articles from peer-reviewed journals and other reputable sources, with a view to understanding the uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding the discipline.
    5) To assess the narrative techniques of film; the structure of montage and the literary value of a screenplay in the works of Italian film-makers inspired by books.
    6) To focus on the literary components of a film (the narrative structure of the montage and the value of a screenplay as a literary text)

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