BA Italian and Spanish / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Reading Italy: Medieval to Modern

Course unit fact file
Unit code ITAL10500
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit seeks to furnish students studying Italian language and culture with the intellectual and analytical tools needed to understand the processes of cultural production, circulation and reception as a necessary prequel to ‘making sense’ of the history of Italian cultural production. In Semester 1 we will explore what we understand by ‘the Arts’ and the ‘humanities’ and their roots in the classical tradition of the Academy before moving on to consider how symbols work within urban and spatial contexts to generate identities and subjectivities through cultural translation and multiple forms of media, including film.  In semester 2, the focus shifts to the analysis of specific forms of cultural production including the analysis of prose, poetic, and still and moving visual forms.Seminars focus on Italian language-specific and area-specific material that relate to the themes covered in lectures, allowing students to develop further linguistic and cultural competence in their language of study. 




Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Italian Cultural Studies ITAL10300 Co-Requisite Compulsory

Please note that if you  take ITAL10500 at Level 1, you cannot take ITAL20500 at Level 2.

Available on which programme(s)? 

Single Honours Italian Studies and all joint honours programmes with Italian Studies 


The principal aims of the course unit are as follows:

  • To develop knowledge and understanding of specific aspects of Italian culture and society from the medieval period to the present day
  • To develop critical thinking and higher-order conceptual reasoning and analytical skills
  • To equip students with working definitions for key concepts in the Italian context such as periodization, identity, ‘nation’, ‘ideology’, ‘multiculturalism’, etc.
  • To enable students to analyse and interrogate a variety of forms of written and visual cultural production in their contexts.

Students on this course will hone their skills of analysis, academic writing and independent research.


Learning outcomes




Semester 1 

1Unit introduction: lectures, seminars and assessment  
2Italian Cultures: the process of making Seminar 1: Thinking about making  
3Italian Cultures: the process of reading  
4Reading Space and Culture 1 Seminar 2: Moving through the City
5Reading Space and Culture 2 

Formative Assessment Deadline 

12pm, Thursday Week 5  

Reading week

7Italian Cultural Translation and Reception 1  Seminar 3: Translating Italy to Manchester 
8Italian Cultural Translation and Reception 2  

Making and Reading Italian Culture 

Film form 

Seminar 4: Film form terminology 
10A Case Study: Federico Fellini’s Cinema 
11Federico Fellini’s I vitelloni Seminar 5: I vitelloni Sequence analysis 
12Revision class Q and A session. Summative assessment deadline, Thursday Week 12 

Semester 2

Week LectureSeminar
1Reading Italy: Introduction to the S2 Course. Renaissance Aesthetics 1  
2Renaissance Aesthetics 2  
3Futurist Aesthetics  Renaissance Visual Culture seminar
4Fascism: Visual Propaganda   
5Caro Michele: an Epistolary Novel (Natalia Ginzburg, 1975)  



6Caro Michele/prose Lecture 2 (Natalia Ginzburg, 1975)   

Poetry Lecture 1: 

How to read a poem  

The romanzo epistolare 

Poetry Lecture 2,  

Ungaretti and Quasimodo 

9Women’s writing in the Renaissance: Vittoria Colonna and women poets Poetry Seminar

Italian Feminism and the Women’s Movement in Italy


11Italian proto-feminism in the Renaissance: Moderata Fonte’s Il merito delle donne 
  Italian Feminisms: Reading Manifestos (12 May 2022)

Teaching and learning methods

33 contact hours. Language of Teaching: English, with use of Italian as appropriate.

  • One weekly 50-minute lecture every week for 22 weeks, across Semester 1 and 2.
  • One fortnightly seminar for 11 weeks, across Semester 1 and 2
  • Two scheduled weekly consultation hours, with additional drop-in consultation scheduled for course students for assessment advice and feedback.
  • Further consultation by request.
  • Blackboard discussion/noticeboard forum to facilitate debate.

Useful web links, bibliographical/referencing guides, and MyLearning Essentials material made available on Blackboard.

Extensive eLearning resources will be available via Blackboard. These will include: copies of slides used in classes; links to digitized material and relevant online resources in the course Reading List; and supplementary materials to aid students in preparing for classes and assessment.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to: 

• Demonstrate their ability to analyse the formal qualities of a range of different kinds of Italian cultural production, which may include visual artworks, political propaganda, poetry, films, novels and/or children’s literature.  

• Apply their analytical skills to render Italian texts, films, and other forms of cultural representation meaningful in their historic contexts 

• Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of some of the major aspects of national and cultural identity in Italy in the modern period. 

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Engage in independent reflection and enquiry.
  • Engage in the discussion and critical evaluation of Italian cultural production
  • Use empirical evidence to support synthetic conclusions and interpretations
  • Analyse a body of data and provide a synthesis of the most relevant findings.

Practical skills

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to:

  • Use library, electronic, and on-line research resources
  • Follow correct citation procedure for the professional presentation of academic writing
  • Build argumentative frameworks for the analysis of cultural artefacts
  • Carry out individual research and select material judiciously

Transferable skills and personal qualities

On successful completion of the course unit, students will be able to:

  • present information, ideas and arguments, orally and in writing, with due regard to the target audience;
  • participate constructively in group activities (e.g. class discussions);
  • assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others;
  • demonstrate powers of analysis.


Employability skills

The course will have particular benefits for any student interested in pursuing a career in teaching and learning, diversity and identity management. The course enhances skills of analysis, synthesis, oral presentation, and written reporting. The course content also encourages students to reflect upon the world outside the University, thereby providing confidence in the use of academic research in a variety of non-academic environments.

Assessment methods

Assessment task  

Formative or Summative 

Weighting within unit (if summative) 

Semester 1 summative spatial practice presentation OR film sequence analysis.  

To be submitted Week 12 (semester 1) 



Portfolio of three 150-word summaries in Italian of selected secondary critical literature from readings in Semester 1. In English for foreign Exchange students not taking language. 

To be submitted Week 5 (semester 1) 



Semester 2 summative essay on the themes covered in Semesters 1 and 2. 

To be submitted  Week 12 (semester 2) 



Resit Assessment:

Summative essay on the themes covered in Semester 1 and Semester 2. 



Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Comments made during class discussion regarding the relevance and coherence of student responses/participation in discussion.


Individual written comments on all submitted work within 15 working days of submission, plus additional face-to-face discussion available during consultation hours or by appointment.

Formative and Summative

Global feedback on all submitted work (delivered orally in classes and via Blackboard).

Formative and Summative


Recommended reading

Weekly readings and visual texts will be supplied in seminars and on Blackboard. Secondary readings will be provided via Blackboard.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Stephen Milner Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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