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Unit information: Screening the Past: Representing History in Contemporary Italian Cinema in 2021/22

Unit name Screening the Past: Representing History in Contemporary Italian Cinema
Unit code ITAL30046
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. O'Rawe
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Italian
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit analyses the way in which a range of recent Italian film genres and modes engage with history: the focus will be on the ways in which recent events in Italy (post-1968) are represented, and the unit will examine, among other topics, the ways in which different genres address the same historical event, the value of studying how popular film ‘does history’, debates over history and memory, the way that contested periods and events are shaped by film into persuasive narratives, the biographical film (or biopic), and the role of the star in directing audience attention towards particular historical features. Periods and moments to be studied may include: Italy’s experience of social unrest in 1968 and 1977, the tragic events of the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001, and key moments of the terrorism of the anni di piombo.


  • To introduce students to the ways in which recent Italian cinema, of differing genres and styles, have engaged with particular historical events.
  • To familiarise students with the growing secondary literature that deals with the problematics of historical representation, the complex issues of memory and history, and the field of memory studies.
  • To develop further skills of film analysis and independent research, building on the skills acquired in units at level I.
  • To equip students with the skills to undertake postgraduate study in a relevant field.

This unit carries a piece of formative assessment;

1 x short reflective online piece (max. 500 words)

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. develop a detailed understanding of the filmic and historical contexts in which the films studied were produced;
  2. evaluate the importance of genre as a classificatory and marketing tool which changes across different historical periods;
  3. assess the relationship between film, genre, and historical change in Italy;
  4. select and synthesise relevant material from a range of critical sources to conduct formal and thematic analysis of the films studied;
  5. collaborate effectively on a joint presentation project.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation

Assessment Information

1 short reflective online piece (max. 500 words, formative)

1 x 15-minute group presentation (30%). Testing ILOs 1-5.

1 x 3000-word essay (70%). Testing ILOs 1-4.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. ITAL30046).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.