78136 - International History (Lm)

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Stefano Cavazza

  • Credits 6

  • SSD M-STO/04

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Information, Cultures and Media Organisation (cod. 5698)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale

  • Course Timetable from Sep 20, 2021 to Oct 28, 2021


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

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide students with the methodological tools to analyse international events from a historical perspective and thus enable them to understand the evolution of international social, cultural and political dynamics in their relationship with national public opinions. At the end of the course, students will: - master the methodologies of analysis of international history; - have a thorough knowledge of the historical evolution of the international context to date; - know how to analyse the specificities and differences of the various international contexts; - know how to apply the knowledge acquired to the analysis of information and communication processes; - be able to broaden the scope of their disciplinary skills by means of the methodology of analysis of the specialised literature acquired during the course.

Course contents

The course will analyse the interaction between geopolitical arrangements, foreign policy and public opinion. To this end, after some lessons on international treaties and their evolution, relations between foreign policy and public opinion, some cases in which public opinions have interacted with foreign policy choices will be examined. The aim is to show in a historical perspective the role of communication in international dynamics.

Timetable of the lessons (small variations are possible) 

1 Introduction to the course
2 Relations between states and domestic policy. Historical evolution of international treaties
 3 Supranational bodies and domestic politics.
4 Public opinion and foreign policy
 5 The nineteenth-century revolutions and communication
 6 The Ems Dispatch as a Cause of War
 7 The outbreak of the First World War and information
 8 Wars and information censorship
 9 Reconstruction and information in the cold war era
 10 Public opinion and the Vietnam War
 11 The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the communist countries
 12 Public Lecture by an expert
 13 11 September 2001 as a media event
 14 Weapons of mass destruction and the second Iraq war
15 Social media and international politics. Final discussion


For students that will attend the class

A.General International History

Guido Formigoni, La politica internazionale dal XX al XXI secolo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2018

Seminarial part

The list of articles to be read and discussed will be published in September

Students that will not attend the class

Non-attending students will have to study for the exam 1 Text from group A+ 1 work chosen from group B+ 1 work chosen from group C. Pairs of texts joined by the sign (+) count as a single work must be prepared by students.

A. General international History

Guido Formigoni, La politica internazionale dal XX al XXI secolo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2018

B. First group choice

Giovanni Bernardini, Nuova Germania, antichi timori. Stati Uniti, Ostpolitik e sicurezza europea, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2013

Luigi Guarna, Richard Nixon e i partiti politici italiani (1969-72), Milano Mondadori, 2015.

Angela Santese, La pace atomica. Ronald Reagan e il movimento antinucleare (1979-1987), Milano, Le Monnier, 2016

Glenda Sluga, Internationalism in the Age of Nationalism, Philadelphia, Univ. of Pennsilvania Press, 2013

C. second group choice

J. Albes, Wort wie Waffen. Die deutsche Propaganda in Spanien während des ersten Weltkrieges, Essen Klartext, 1996

Volker R. Berghahn, America and the intellectual cold wars in Europe: Shepard Stone between philanthropy, academy, and diplomacy, Princeton, Princeton Univ. Press, 2001

(pair of Texts) Bellucci, Paolo Conti, Nicolò (a cura di), Gli italiani e l'Europa: opinione pubblica, élite politiche e media, Roma, Carocci, 2012 + Jackie Harrison, Stefanie Pukallus, The European Community’s Public Communication Policy 1951–1967, in «Contemporary European History», 24, (2015), pp. 233–251.

Riccardo Brizzi (a cura di), Osservata speciale. La neutralità italiana nella Prima guerra mondiale e l'opinione pubblica internazionale (1914-15), Le Monnier, 2015

Ben Clements, British Public Opinion on Foreign and Defence Policy: 1945-2017, London, Routledge, 2018

Luigi Goglia, Renato Moro e Leopoldo Nuti (a cura di), Guerra e pace nell'Italia del Novecento: politica estera, cultura politica e correnti dell'opinione pubblica, Bologna, Il mulino, 2006

Ole Rudolf Holsti, Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy, Michigan press, 2006

Helen Laville Hugh Wilford (a cura di), The US Government, Citizen Groups and the Cold War, The State-Private Network, 2012

W. Lippmann, L’opinione pubblica, Roma, Donzelli 2018

F. David Schmitz, The Tet Offensive: politics, war, and public opinion, Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005

Marica Tolomelli, Terrorismo e società: il pubblico dibattito in Italia e in Germania negli anni Settanta, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2006

Teaching methods

The course will have part lectures and part seminar discussions. The case studies will first be explained by the lecturer and then discussed on the basis of the assigned readings.

Assessment methods


Students that will attend the class

Students that will attend the class must

1. write a thesis of at least 40,000 characters (=6000 words) on a topic assigned by the lecturer

2. pass the oral exam on the institutional part (A) and on the texts discussed during the course during dedicated  exam sessions.

Students taht will not attend the class

Studenst that will not attend the class  must pass

1. an open-ended test on the compulsory text (A) consisting of 15 questions. Each question will be graded from 0 to 2 points. There are no penalties for wrong answers.

2. In case of passing the test with a score of at least 18/30, students will take the oral test on the two chosen monographs (B and C).

General assessment criteria

The achievement of an organic vision of the themes addressed, the possession of a mastery of expression and specific language, the mastery of concepts, the structural and historical-causal understanding of events, as well as familiarity with the tools of analysis of International History and communication applied to international politics will be assessed with marks of excellence. A largely mechanical or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, an inadequate ability to synthesise and analyse, or language that is correct but not always appropriate, as well as a scholastic command of International History and communication applied to international politics will lead to fair marks. Gaps in training or inappropriate language, as well as a lack of knowledge and understanding of international history and communication applied to international politics, will lead to grades that are close to adequate. Gaps in training, inappropriate language and lack of orientation within the space-time dimension will result in negative marks.

Teaching tools


Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Stefano Cavazza