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Unit information: Naples: Culture, Identity and Nation in 2015/16

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Unit name Naples: Culture, Identity and Nation
Unit code ITAL30045
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Glynn
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Italian
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The Unification of Italy saw the decline of Naples from prestigious capital of the Kingdom of Sicily to a thorn in the side of the new Italian government, a position it occupies once again in the new millennium. This unit explores the fortunes of Naples within the modern Italian state, as conveyed in cultural production. It opens with a survey of a range of cultural forms and practices specific to Naples and of key contributions to discourses relating to relating to Neapolitan identity. It then proceeds to address the literary and cinematic representation of Naples at three key moments in time: at the foundation of the state; in the immediate post-war period and in the contemporary context. It explores the ways in which the city has been represented as alternately the quintessence of Italian identity and its vilified other; it raises issues relating to the feminization of the city in the cultural imaginary; the relationship between city and state in the decline of its industrial heritage; and the emergence and growth of the Camorra in the wake of that decline.

In addition to introducing students to the cultural production of Naples from the post-unification period to the present, this unit aims to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the role occupied by Naples in discourses relating to the Italian nation. It further aims to enhance students’ critical skills by introducing them to appropriate critical frames for the interrogation of contradictory and often contentious cultural texts. Finally, the unit seeks to further develop students’ critical and communicative skills through close analysis of a diverse range of texts and through the completion of oral presentations and written assignments.


  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to final year level. The content matter will normally include one or more of the following: literature; social, cultural or political history; linguistics; cultural studies; film, television or other media.
  • To facilitate students’ engagement with a body of literature, including secondary literature, texts, including in non-print media, primary sources and ideas as a basis for their own analysis and development. Normally many or most of these sources will be in a language other than English and will enhance the development of their linguistic skills.
  • To develop further skills of synthesis, 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.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will:

  • be knowledgable about a significant cultural, historical or linguistic subject related to the language they are studying;
  • will have advanced skills in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;
  • be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, usually in a foreign language, at an advanced level;
  • be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an advanced level of complexity;
  • be able to transfer these skills to other working environments, including postgraduate study.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught in a combination of tutor- and student-led teaching, predominantly in seminar format but with a small number of introductory lectures.

Assessment Information

essay 50%, commentary 25%, presentation 25%

Reading and References

Primary Texts:

Matilde Serao, Il ventre di Napoli (1884)

Eduardo De Filippo, Napoli milionaria! (1945)

Anna Maria Ortese, Il mare non bagna Napoli (1954) [selected extracts]

Liliana Cavani, dir., La pelle (1981)

Antonio Capuano, dir., Pianese Nunzio 14 anni a maggio (1996)

Roberto Saviano, Gomorra (2006)