76784 - History and Analysis of Mass Communication (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Mirco Dondi
  • Credits: 12
  • SSD: M-STO/04
  • Language: Italian
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in History and Oriental Studies (cod. 8845)

Learning outcomes

Aims of the course: the learner is able to analyze the language of several traditional mass media (newspapers, radio, movies, television) to digital ones. Moreover The student is able to grasp the relationship between journalistic communication and historical contexts.

Course contents

The lessons will focus on:

- key concepts of History of Mass Communications: media spheres of influence, forms of propaganda, public opinion, polls, agenda setting, historical communication, post truth and fake news, disintermediation, big data.

- the representation of social contexts in literature;

- some events in history of Italian terrorism (1969 - 1980) in the light of communication dynamics;

- history of commercial television in Italy from 1974 to 1994;

- lesson themes on request of students

The course will have a laboratory trend and attending students will work on the development of analytical attitudes towards the media, with particular reference to literature as a form of communication.

In this regard, students will make a short paper (2.100 words) about the impact of the scoops on public opinion. Students can propose their own case of interest.


It is advisable to have theme basics already. It is recommended for both students and non-students, a preliminary reading: Marica Tolomelli, Sfera pubblica e comunicazioni di massa, Bologna, Archetipo libri, 2006. This book is not subject to examination, but provides many tools to understand the themes of the lessons and prepares to address the contents of the texts exam.

It is also suggested a knowledge, at least indicative, of leading scholars who have ventured on the themes of communication and the history of public opinion: Theodor Adorno, Pierre Bordieu, Manuel Castells, Umberto Eco, Siegfried Krakauer, Jurgen Habermas, Max Horkheimer, Peter Hugill, Harold Innis, Walter Lippmann, Niklas Luhmann, David Manning White, Marshall McLuhan, Elisabeth Noelle Neumann, Walter Ong, Peppino Ortoleva, Vance Packard, Axel Honneth, Rahel Jaeggi e Hartmut Rosa.

There are two programs.

A) For not attending students the program consists of the following books:

1) Benedetta Baldi (a cura di), Comunicare ad arte, Bologna, Zanichelli, 2020;

2) Comunicazione storica. Tecnologie Linguaggi e Culture (a cura di Mirco Dondi e Simona Salustri), Bologna, Biblioteca Clueb, 2021

3) Mirco Dondi, L’eco del boato. Storia della strategia della tensione 1965 - 1974, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2015.

4) Parole chiave per i media studies (a cura di Laurie Ouellette e Jonathan Gray), Roma, Minimum fax, 2018.

The exam for non-attending students will be a multiple choice test with 28 questions, 7 questions for each book chosen.



The students will give the teacher the essays about history of communication by March 25, 2024. The essays should not exceed 25,000 characters of text spaces included. Appendix and notes are not included in this calculation.

The teacher will evaluate the eligibility of the work.


The attending students will support a written pre-appello, with 14 multiple choice questions, around the middle of May on the topics covered in class. Included are the essays that will be collected in a single file and distributed to students.

Students who have regularly attended the courses and who have submitted their papers by March 25, 2024 are considered attending.

The essays, made by each student, will be grouped in a single file that will be distributed to all attending students and together with the notes of all the lessons will constitute the themes of the questions of the preappello.


- the texts of all the papers produced by the class;

- the lecture notes.

These first 2 parts will be supported exclusively in the May pre-appel (valid only for attending students). Just for this test you will not need to enroll in Almaesami.

The pre-appello test will be a written test with 14 multiple choice questions.

Both for the paper and for the pre-appello of May is given the assessment of "suitable". The final numerical grade will be related to the two books chosen (14 multiple choice questions) for the official exam.

Assessment methods

Written exam for everyone.

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons and made one of the required papers are considered to be attending.

Multiple choice questions are processed for each book in the program.


For example:

Quali caratteristiche presenta la televisione italiana delle origini? A) E' a colori; B) Si ispira alla BBC per quanto riguarda i principi base: intrattenere, informare, educare; C) I telegiornali sono trasmessi ogni due ore; D) E' sotto stretto controllo governativo


The evaluation starts from 30:

The first error is cleared, a point is removed from the second error.

If the student indicates, within a question, a number of answers lower than those expected, at the third answer omission the evaluation will be penalized by one point.

In any case, to pass the exam, it is necessary to answer correctly at least half of the questions for each text in the program.

Office hours

See the website of Mirco Dondi