Italian Cinema and Literature - IT548

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This module discusses contemporary adaptations from different Italian textual sources (e.g. children's tales, novels, 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.
We will focus on emblematic contemporary adaptations such as Collodi's Pinocchio, adapted, among others, by Roberto Benigni, Baricco’s Novecento, adapted by Tornatore (La leggenda del pianist sull’oceano), Ammaniti’s Io non ho paura, adapted by Gabriele Salvatores, and Saviano’s Gomorra, adapted by Matteo Garrone for the big screen and by Stefano Sollima for the television.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (2,000 words) – 50%
Essay 2 (2,000 words) – 50%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading:

Ammaniti, N. (2001) Io non ho paura. Turin: Einaudi.
Baricco, A. (1994) Novecento. Un monologo. Milan: Feltrinelli.
Collodi, C. (2002 [1883]) Le avventure di pinocchio. Storia di un burattino. Pontedera: Bandecchi & Vivaldi.
Saviano, R. (2006). Gomorra. Turin: Einaudi.

Gomorrah (2008). [Film]. Italy: Matteo Garrone, Domenico Procacci.
Io non hop aura (2003). [Film] Italy: Gabriele Salvatores, Cattleya.
La leggenda del pianista sull'oceano (1998). [Film] Italy: Giuseppe Tornatore, Sciarlò.
Pinocchio (2006). [Film] Italy: Roberto Benigni, Cecchi Gori group.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate a systematic, details and cogent understanding of contemporary and classic works of Italian literature and their cinematic adaptations;
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;
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;
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;
Assess the narrative techniques of film, the structure of montage and literary value of a screenplay in the works of Italian film-makers inspired by books.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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