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Mass Media, Culture & Intellectuals in Contemporary Italy - LAN00063H

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Lucia Aiello
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module looks at key changes in the 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.

Related modules

Pre-requisite module

Italian Language and Cultures: Advanced or equivalent level of language proficiency (available as an elective).

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The module aims to provide a cultural and historical overview of contemporary issues in Italian society and increase student awareness of key aspects of Italian linguistic, social and political development from the 1950s to the present day. 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 - Italian intellectuals have reacted and/or adapted to the changes in the mode of communication determined by the new media and how they have engaged in the reconfiguration of the cultural space, thus contributing to the transformation of cultural discourse and linguistic codes.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will 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.

Module content

Topics covered:

  • Intellectuals, commitment, and the media in the post-war debate;

  • Pier Paolo Pasolini, the significance of his role, his work and his death;

  • The impact of the feminist movement and Oriana Fallaci;

  • The eighties and nineties: the role of Mediaset

  • Intellectuals and social media

  • Culture and intellectuals in transcultural Italy


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 60
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
N/A 40

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Reassessment essay
N/A 60
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
N/A 40

Module feedback

Feedback on formative tasks will be given in wk 7. Feedback on summative assessment will be returned according to the feedback turnaround time.

Indicative reading

A full reading list will be provided by the tutor. The selection of key texts will be based on the key themes discussed in the module.

Recommended background reading:

Oriana Fallaci, Lettera a un bambino mai nato (BUR, Milano: 1975, 2009)

R. Gordon, Culture, Censorship and the State in Twentieth-century Italy

R. Lumley, ed., Culture and Conflict in Postwar Italy : Essays on Mass and Popular Culture (St Martin Press; 1990).

P. P. Pasolini, Scritti corsari (Garzanti, Milano; 1975, 2017)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.