Mass media, culture and intellectuals in contemporary Italy



This module looks at key changes in the activity, role and function of intellectuals in Italy since World War II and investigates how new and traditional media have influenced the perception intellectuals have of themselves and of their function in society (from “intellettuale impegnato” [committed intellectual] to “tuttologo” [Italian neologism commonly translated as “spin doctor” or “know-it all”]).

Focusing on crucial historical moments in recent Italian history, the module explores how prominent Italian intellectuals contributed to public debates, the means and style of communication they favoured, and the social and cultural context in which they operated.

The module asks questions such as: Who are the “intellectuals” and what is their role in contemporary Italian society? What is their class status? What is their institutional and cultural function? Particular attention will be given to the way - from the late seventies onwards, soon after the death of Pier Paolo Pasolini - Italian intellectuals have reacted and/or adapted to the rigid structures of communication demanded by mass media (e.g. predetermined contexts such as talk shows, blogs, social media) and have engaged in the reconfiguration of the cultural space, thus contributing to the transformation of cultural discourse and language codes.

The aim of the module is to provide a cultural and historical overview of recent developments in Italian society and to enable students to comprehend key aspects of Italian linguistic, social and political identity from the 1950s to the present day.

Upon completion of this module, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • detailed knowledge and understanding of the set texts and additional multimedia materials (e.g. digital resources, including videos, films, TV programmes);
  • knowledge and understanding of the role of intellectuals in contemporary Italy and awareness of the main issues surrounding intellectuals’ relationship to the social, political and cultural sphere;
  • ability to undertake independent study and personal research on the topics discussed;
  • ability to develop increased confidence and advanced accuracy in the production of written and spoken Italian;
  • enhanced skills in critical reading, writing and analysis.



Students must have successfully completed:

  • I35I Italian Language & Society II



Contact hours

Two hours per week.

Teaching programme

The module will be taught in Italian.


Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback

Feedback on formative work

Formative essay and seminar presentations throughout.

Summative assessment and feedback

  • Commentary 
    • Length: 1000 words
    • Due: Spring Term, Week 10
    • Weight: 40%
  • Research paper
    • Length: 3000 words
    • Due: Summer Term, Week 6
    • Weight: 60%

About this module

  • Module name
    Mass media, culture and intellectuals in contemporary Italy
  • Course code
    I63H (LAN00063H)
  • Teacher 
    Dr Lucia Aiello
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits