13724 - History of Contemporary Italy (1)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will have achieved a general knowledge on Italian contemporary history and the main important historiographical interpretations on it. Students will be able to transmit the knowledge acquired by adopting the specific vocabulary and to master the historiographical debate. They will confident with the methodologies used by the research on social classes; will be able to comprehend fundamental aspects of mass culture and consumption phenomena. They will be aware of the linkages between the methodologies explained and the results.

Course contents

Italy, a labour founded Republic? Labour as issue in the Italian history from the building of the nation to present times

The course will tackle contemporary Italian history movint from current issue related to labour in its social, political and cultural facets. Classes will be organized along following main issues:

1. The relevance of work in the Italian constitution and its political heritage since the unification throughout the liberal phase and fascism. Concepts and methodological approaches will be clarifyed at the beginning of the course.

2. Labour in Liberal Italy, the relations between the inteernational macro-economic frame e domestic development: the rise and composition of Italian proletariat; gendered division of labour.

3. Labour and Fascism: a crucial issue for the building of consensus (neutralization of conflicts, control over times and issues of work time and free time; work as key issue to prevent opposition and resistance to fascism)

4. Italian Republic founded upon labour: Labour as one of the main issues to voice social injustice and conflicts from the post-war Re-Building to the "hot autumn" 1969

5. Globalization and deindustrialization: the changing of industrial production and the social formation of labour from the 1970s to recent times.

Lessons will be organized along the classical political partition of Italian nationa history, i.e. liberal, fascist, republican epochs, but particular attention will be drawned to the Italian society and the impact that economic, political and cultural factors exterted on the shaping of labour. A gender perspective will also be adopted in relation to the cours's topic.

Most part of the course will consist of traditional lectures but some lessons will be devoted to the historical contextualization of documents or readings  - previously uploaded via internet - and to a discussion to be developed in class. 

Readings/Bibliography

1. Following books are mandatory bibliography for the preparation of the written exam:

a)Massimo Salvadori, Storia d'Italia. Il cammino tormentato di una nazione 1861-2016, Einaudi, Torino 2018

b) Stefano Musso, Storia del lavoro in Italia. Dall'unità a oggi, 2. ed. aggiornata, Marsilio, Venezia 2011.

Erasmus students can possibly substitute the Italian language handbook with: Jonathan Dunnage, Twentieth-century Italy : a social history, Routledge 2002

2. Following titles are suggested for the praparation of a critical review. Students are asked to chose one text within the list. They may also chose other texts in accordance with the teacher.

 Simonetta Ortaggi Cammarosano, Il prezzo del lavoro. Torino e l'industria italiana nel primo '900, Rosenberg & Sellier, Torino 1988

Manfredi Alberti, Senza lavoro. La disoccupazione in Italia dall'Unità a oggi, Laterza, Roma-Bari,2016

Fabrizio Loreto e Stefano Musso (a cura di), Il Piano del Lavoro del 1949: contesto storico internazionale e problemi interpretativi, Ediesse, Roma 2014

Gilda Zazzara (a cura di), Tra luoghi e mestieri. Spazi e culture del lavoro nell'Italia del Novecento, Ca' Foscari, Venezia 2013

Alessandra Pescarolo, Il lavoro delle donne nell'Italia contemporanea, Viella, Roma 2019

Andrea Sangiovanni, Tute blu. La parabola operaia nell'Italia repubblicana, Roma, Donzelli 2006

Alessandro Pizzorno et al., Lotte operaie e sindacato : il ciclo 1968-1972 in Italia, Il mulino, Bologna 1978.

Paolo Mattera (a cura di), Momenti del welfare in Italia. Storiografia e percorsi di ricerca, Viella, Roma 2012

Vittorio Foa, Andrea Ranieri, Il tempo del sapere. Domande e risposte sul lavoro che cambia, Einaudi, Torino 2000.

Grazia Prontera, Partire, tornare, restare? L'esperienza migratoria dei lavoratori italiani nella Repubblica Federale Tedesca nel secondo dopoguerra, Guerini, Milano 2009

Michele Colucci, Lavoro in movimento. L'emigrazione italiana in Europa, 1945-57, Donzelli, Roma 2008

Tania Toffanin, Fabbriche invisibili : storie di donne, lavoranti a domicilio, Ombre corte, Verona 2016

Francesco Lauria, Le 150 ore per il diritto allo studio. Analisi, memorie, echi di una straordinaria esperienza sindacale, Edizioni Lavoro, Roma 2011

Claudio Reggiani, La danza delle ore : l'orario di lavoro nell'industria durante il fascismo, Pàtron, Bologna 2003

Perry Willson, La fabbrica orologio. Donne e lavoro alla Magneti Marelli nell'Italia fascista, Franco Angeli, Milano 2003


Anna Rossi-Soria, Il ministro e i contadini : decreti Gullo e lotte nel Mezzogiorno, 1944-1949, Bulzoni, Roma 1983

M. Battini, L. Baldissara (a cura di), Lavoro e cittadinanza. Dalla Costituente alla flessibilità. Ascesa e declino di un binomio, ebook, Feltrinelli, Milano 2017

Giovanna Altieri (a cura di), Tra nord e sud. Lavoro, disoccupazione, immigrazione. L'esperienza italiana negli anni ottanta, Ediesse, Roma 1991

Teaching methods


The teacher will hold lectures to illustrate some topic moments in contemporary Italian history and the principal historiographical approaches. The "materiale didattico" proposed to the students should be of support for their active participation in commenting and debating the readings (documents or articles). Audiovisual sources will also be utilized.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of two parts that will take place in two different moments:

a) a written exam (to be done by students, attending and not-attending) to verify the general knowledge concerning the Italian contemporary history (Salvadori, Storia d'Italia) and the thematic perspective of the course (Musso, Storia del lavoro in Italia). The test will ask five open questions on the book by Salvadori and three open questions on the book by Musso. It will last 90'.

b) a critical review of one book chosen from the list proposed. The review should be a critical summary of the book with regard to the subject, the methodological approach, the bibliography and sources employed, thesis argued by the author. Suggested lenght: 5-6 pages (circa 12,000 signs all included).

Both the written exam and the critical review will test:

  • the knowledge of the main turning points concerning the institutional, social, economic and cultural history of Italy since its national foundation;
  • the knowledge of more specific issues concerning the history of labour in Italy, from the formation of labourers mutualism to unionism and political parties and employers associations, with a particular focus on social conflicts related to the transformation of labour from the end of the 19th to the end of the 20th century;
  • the correct use of categories and historical concepts dealt with in class; awareness of how to use sources connected to Italian labour history issues;
  • writing skills, capability to sum up effectively and in logical organization arguments and interpretations; logical organization of the topics; use of an appropriate vocabulary.

For each of the criteria outlined above, the evalution will result from following assessment scale:

  • Excellent (30 cum laude)
  • Very Good (28-30)
  • Good (25-27)
  • Satisfactory (22-24)
  • Sufficient (18-21)

The final grade will result from the evaluation of the two parts of the exam. For attending students the assessment will take into account also dedication and active participation in class.

Not-attending students have to follow the same procedure: first pass the written exam and then write a critical review not of one, but of two selected books among the list.

Teaching tools

Audiovisual sources, documentarie or films will be proposed to integrate some lessons.

Teaching materials such as articles or short essays will be provided by uploading in the "materiali didattici" linked to the course

Office hours

See the website of Marica Tolomelli