29514 - Global History: Public Sphere and Mass Media (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Marica Tolomelli

  • Credits 6

  • SSD M-STO/04

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in History and Oriental Studies (cod. 8845)


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will be able to use the acquired conceptual and theoretical tools to build adequate analytical frames and approach specific historical subjects. Particularly, students will master theories and methodological approaches concerning the shape and changes of public spheres in contemporary history. Thanks to the knowledge of the national and international historiography, students will be able to manage on their own further historical research on a specific topic. At the end of the two modules of the course, they will be aware of the methodological orientations prevailing in the global history, particularly with regard to economic matters, material cultures, environmental changes and changes in the public sphere. This will allow them to be critical towards the information, the texts and data and their historiographic relevance.

Course contents

National - transnational - global: spatial scales and analytical categories for the study on the publc sphere in relation to the development of capitalism in contemporary history.

The course will focus on developments and transformations of the public sphere in relation to the development of capitalism along the 19th and the 20th centuries and diverse spatial scales.

The first part of the course will be devoted to ithe introduction of global and transnational history in both conceptual and methodological terms. We will takle the historiographical debate on the overcoming/the surviving of the national paradigm though the increasing research interest in global inter-relations. In this same first part attention will be addressed to the concept of public sphere in the social sciences starting from the pioneering work by J. Habermas (1962) till more recent contributions.

It will follow a second part focused on transformations triggered by the development of capitalism (1848-2008) with particular regard to issues of social inequality and related forms of agency. Since the Publication of Marx and Engels Manifesto (1848) until recent times the social and economic developmento of capitalism has been subject of interpretations that have heavily oriented the formation of collective movements. These procesesses have been facilitated by national literacy policies aimed at the national integration of subaltern classes as well as by communication technologies that eased popular strata to get access to national and transnational public spheres. The course will tackle the history of workers and trade unions movements with regard to the widening of communication processes and of forms of interaction among huge social groups  at a national, international and global scale. These processes will be observed by analizing some peculiar phases from the middle of the 19th until the early 21st centuries.

The themes of the course are scheduled as it follows:    

1. Methodological introduction to the global history by deepening  che concepts of public sphere, civil society and mass communication;

2. 1848 and the rise of "dangerous classes" in Europe, formation of workers' internationalismo and its limits;

3. War capitalism and militarization of social relations. Polirizatio of action possibilities and spaces (nation vs. internationalism);

4. Organized capitalism in the Golden Age: institutionalization of the workers movement and of systems of social conflicts mediation;

5. Deindustrialization, growth of financial capitalism, rise of global movements for social justice.


The list is intended as reference for the topic that will be addressed in class and for the preparation of the final paper.

Marek Tamm, Peter Burke (eds.), Debating new approaches to history, London, Bloomsbury 2019

Stefan-L. Hoffmann, Civil Society 1750-1914, Palgrave New York 2006

J. Habermas, Storia e critica dell'opinione pubblica, 3. ed
Roma-Bari, Laterza 2008

Craig Calhoun(ed), Habermas and the public sphere, The Mit Press, Cambridge 1992

Marica Tolomelli, Sfera pubblica e comunicazioni di massa, Bologna, Archetipo 2006.

Juergen Kocka, Capitalismo. Una breve storia, Carocci, Roma 2016

Stefan Berger, Holger Nehring (eds.), The history of social movements in global perspective. A survey, London, Palgrave 2017

Geoff Eley, Forging democracy: the history of the left in Europe, 1850-2000, New York: Oxford University Press 2002

Maurizio Isabella, Risorgimento in esilio : l'internazionale liberale e l'età delle rivoluzioni, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2011

Fabio Bertini, Figli del '48. I ribelli, gli esuli, i lavoratori. Dalla Repubblica universale alla prima Internazionale, Roma, Aracne 2013

Marcello Musto (a cura di), Lavoratori di tutto il mondo, unitevi! Indirizzi, risoluzioni, discorsi e documenti della Prima Internazionale, Roma, Donzelli 2014

Frits van Holthoon, Marcel van der Linden (eds.),
Internationalism in the Labour Movement 1830-1940, vol. I, Brill, Amsterdam 1988

Sebastian Conrad, Dominic Sachsenmaier (eds.), Competing visions of world order. Global moments and movements, 1880s-1930s, New York : Palgrave, 2007

Maria Grever, Berteke Waaldijk, Transforming the public sphere. The Dutch national exhibition of Women's labor in 1898, Durham : Duke university press, 2004

Donna R. Gabaccia and Fraser M. Ottanelli (eds), Italian Workers of the World. Labor Migration and the Formation of Multiethnic States, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago 2001

Steven Hirsch, Lucien van der Walt (eds), Anarchism and syndicalism in the colonial and postcolonial world, 1870-1940 : the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution, Brill, Leiden 2010.

Georges Haupt, La II Internazionale, Firenze : La Nuova Italia, 1973

Jennifer Guglielmo, Living the revolution : Italian womenʼs resistance and radicalism in New York City, 1880-1945, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 2010

Matteo Pasetti, Tra classe e nazione: rappresentazioni e organizzazione del movimento nazional-sindacalista (1918-1922), Carocci, Roma 2008

Piero Di Girolamo, Produrre per combattere. Operai e mobilitazione industriale a Milano durante la grande guerra, 1915-1918, Napoli, Edizioni scientifiche italiane, 2002

Paolo Ferrari, Alessandro Massignani, Dietro le quinte. Economia e intelligence nelle guerre del Novecento, Assago, CEDAM, 2011

Andrea Rapini, Lo Stato sociale, Bologna, Archetipolibri, 2010

Marica Tolomelli, L'Italia dei movimenti. Politica e società nella prima repubblica, Roma, Carocci, 2015

Colin Crouch e Alessandro Pizzorno (a cura di), Conflitti in Europa. Lotte di classe, sindacati e Stato dopo il '68, Milano : Etas libri, 1977

Beverly Silver, Le forze del lavoro. Movimenti operai e globalizzazione dal 1870, Milano : Bruno Mondadori, 2008

Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists beyond borders. Advocacy networks in international politics, Cornell University Press, Ithaca 1998

Peter Waterman, Globalization, social movements and the new internationalisms, London-Washington: Mansell, 1998

John A. Guidry, Michael D. Kennedy, Mayer N. Zald (eds.), Globalization and social movements : culture, power, and the transnational public sphere, University of Michigan press, Ann Arbor 2000

Teaching methods

The course will interchange classical lecture to seminar moments. Lectures aim at illustrating the conceptual tools emplyed to analyse historical phenomena and particular contexts. In order to stimulate lively debates and active participation students will be asked to prepare readings that will be provided through the "materiali didattici" linked to the course.

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

Students will write a final paper (40,000 beatings including the all text/15-18 pages) on one of the topics dealt with in one of the two modules. For attending students the assessment will take into account also dedication and active participation in class.

In addition to the final paper not-attending students have to pass an oral exam on following books (the exam also applies to the second module of the integrated course):

Sebastian Conrad, Storia Globale. Un'introduzione, Carocci, Roma 2015

Christophe Bonneuil, Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, La terra, la storia e noi. L'evento antropocene, Roma, Treccani, 2019

The final grade will be the avarage between the grade assigned to the oral exam and the grade assigned to the paper.

With regard to the outlined criteria 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)

This 6 CFU course is part of the 12 CFU Integrated Course “Profili di storia globale (C.I.) (LM)". If the student has the Integrated Course (12 CFU) in his/her study plan, the final grade for not-attending ones will result from the arithmetic average of the marks obtained in the common oral exam (“Profili di storia globale: sfera pubblica e comunicazioni di massa" and “Profili di storia globale: Economia, ambiente, società") and the final paper.

The final grade will be assigned by the professor with whom the paper’s subject has been agreed (either Bonan or Tolomelli).

Teaching tools

Short texts, articles or essays will be uploaded in the "materiali didattici" linked to the course. As some of the readings are in English it is advantegeous that students have a good knowledge of the English language.

Office hours

See the website of Marica Tolomelli