37175 - History of 20th Century Society

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide the knowledge to interpret the social, cultural and political modernization during the Twentieth century, which affected in particular the most economically advanced countries. The course, therefore, will offer students the tools to understand and decode the processes of transformation of contemporary society, relating them to the economic and political changes.

Course contents

The course focuses on social, cultural and political transformation during the XX century with a particular attention on the construction of the second post-war consumer society in Europe. The course will start with a short analysis of the "XX century world", from the point of view of social transformation, public and private life, economic and demographic changes, new political subjects.
Then, the course will discuss the second post-war period, when high standard of living should not just be understood as the safeguarding of fundamental needs, but also as the chance to purchase goods and services on the market. Whilst in the USA in the period preceding the Second World War, the participation in consumerism had already started to take on the role of a characterising element in the access to citizenship, in Europe only in the period after the Second World War did economic development and State policies allow the citizens of Western Europe to take part in mass consumerism. In this part, we will analyse how access to consumption has been achieved in the various countries and how this has influenced the processes of political legitimisation giving to the consumerism the status of  a "social right".
In its third part, the course will concentrate on the so-called "second feminism" during the Sixties-Seventies, the new "young culture" and the 1968 movements.


- Compulsory Reading for students not attending classes

Vinen Richard, L'Europa del Novecento. Una storia sociale, Carocci, 2004 (parts I, II, III up to p. 461)

- Students attending classes have to prepare the contents of the lessons and slides provided by the teacher.

- Readings for students attending classes and not attending classes

Students attending classes have to choose one of the volumes of the following list for oral exam. Students non attending classes have to choose two books.


- Black J., Il mondo nel ventesimo secolo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2004

- Bruneteau B., Il secolo dei genocidi, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2005

- Flores M., Il Secolo-mondo. Storia del Novecento vol. 2, 1945-2000,  Bologna, il Mulino, 2002

 - Hobsbawm E.J., Il secolo breve. 1914-1991, Milano, Rizzoli, 2014 (ed. or. 1995), limited to Introduction and Parte 1 L'eta' della catastrofe

- Traverso E., A ferro e fuoco. La guerra civile europea 1914-1945, Mulino, 2007

- Vivarelli R., I caratteri dell'eta' contemporanea, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2005


- Cardini A. (ed.), Il miracolo economico italiano (1958-1963), Bologna, Il Mulino, 2006

- Cavazza S. e Scarpellini E. (ed.), La rivoluzione dei consumi. Societa' di massa e benessere in Europa 1945-2000, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2010.

- Gorman L., McLean D., Media e societa' nel mondo contemporaneo. Una introduzione storica, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2005

- Gozzini G., La mutazione individualista. Gli italiani e la televisione 1954-2011, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2011

- Guazzaloca G., Una e divisibile. la RAI, la televisione e i partiti negli anni del monopolio pubblico (1954-1975), Milano, Mondadori-Le Monnier, 2011

- Scarpellini E., L'Italia dei consumi. Dalla Belle Epoque al nuovo millennio, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2008


- Asquer E., Scattigno A,, Vezzosi E. (eds.), Felicità della politica, politica della felicità, Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2016

- Bock G., Le donne nella storia europea, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2006

- Capuzzo P. (ed.), Genere, generazione e consumi. L'Italia degli anni Sessanta, Roma, Carocci, 2003

- Klimke M., Scharloth J. (ed. by), 1968 in Europe. A History of Protest and Activism, 1956-1977, New York-Basingstoke, Macmillan, 2008

- Lombardi D., Storia del matrimonio. Dal Medioevo a oggi, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2008 + Galeotti G., Storia dell'aborto, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2003 (The books should be studied together)

- Lussana F., Il movimento femminista in Italia. Esperienze, storie, memorie, Carocci, 2011

- Sorcinelli P., Varni A. (ed.), Il secolo dei giovani. Le nuove generazioni e la storia del Novecento, Roma, Donzelli, 2004

Teaching methods

Teaching methods are basically founded on frontal lectures.

Assessment methods

Assessment methods for students not attending classes:

Students are requested to pass an oral exam based on the book Richard Vinen, L’Europa del Novecento. Una storia sociale, (parts I, II, III up to p. 461).

They also have to prepare other 2 books choosed in the list indicated; the books choosed can belong to any section.

Assessment methods for students attending classes:

It will be possible verifying the lesson programme for students attending classes  through written tests to be held during the course. Characteristics of written tests and verification procedures, however, will be specified at the beginning of the course. Students attending classes are also requested to pass an oral exam based on one book choosed in the list indicated in the Bibliography.

Teaching tools

Personal Computer, slides

Office hours

See the website of Giulia Guazzaloca