Catching the Tide: Cultural Renewal in 20th Century Italy - ITAL5560

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


Despite her incomparable heritage, Italy experienced for many centuries a sense of cultural provincialism, with the world's intellectual curiosity switching to Paris, London, New York, and other centres of innovation. This module focuses on the clear connections between rapid socio-economic and socio-political change and the thrust for cultural modernity that made 20th century Italy once more a key contributor to the literary and visual arts in Europe and beyond. A wide variety of Italian 'texts’ of the first half of the 20th century will be taken into consideration, including novels, plays, short stories and films.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

100% Coursework:

Essay 1 (1,500 words) – 40%
Essay 2 (1,500 words) – 40%
Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading:

Any edition:

Federico Fellini, La dolce vita
Ennio Flaiano, 'Un marziano a Roma'
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Teorema
Luigi Pirandello, Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore
Italo Svevo, La coscienza di Zeno

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the European spirit of cultural innovation in the first 50 years of the 20th century and Italy's contribution to it.

Demonstrate insight into key works of modern Italian literary and visual arts.

Relate particular authors, not studied elsewhere in the curriculum, to their historical period by analysis of their works; i.e. to apply critical knowledge outside of the context in which it was first encountered.

Evaluate critically the 'artistic imperative' to review even the most celebrated heritage in response to social and cultural renewal in Europe and beyond.

Assess the contribution of the visual arts to the social and cultural debates which have taken place in 20th century Italy, and to understand both the potential and the limitations of these kinds of cultural analysis.

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.

Focus on the literary components of a film (the narrative structure of the montage and the value of a screenplay as a literary text).

Appreciate the role of both cinema and literature as witness to and primary source documentation of recent historical events crucial to the nation's perception of itself.

Come to detailed understanding of process of adaptation by engage literary texts prior to studying the respective film adaptations.


  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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