00932 - Contemporary History (A-L)

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Toni Rovatti

  • Credits 12

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme First cycle degree programme (L) in Humanities (cod. 8850)


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

Gender equality Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will acquire an outline of modern history, with a special attention to the social, cultural and political transformations, and the awareness of the complexity and problematic nature of the periodization principles. The student will also acquire a good knowledge of an important theme of the modern era, especially in relation to the historiography debate and the multiplicity of the sources. The student is able to analyze in an autonomous way documents, sources, and authors belonging to the contemporary World.

Course contents

Violence of war and violence of peace

The course will focus on the main aspects of contemporary history, from which take shape cultural representations, lifestyles, geographies and balances of power that characterize the different ideas of Europe within a global context.

The reconstruction of the general historical frameworks will be integrated with a monographic course on Violence of war and violence of peace: different forms of conflict (military, political, social) that affect national spaces and local contexts between the 20th and 21st centuries will be examined.

The course will touch on the following themes:

  • Contemporary history, history of the present time, sources and scale effects
  • Industrial Revolution
  • French Revolution and profiles of citizenship (gender, class, race)
  • Napoleonic period
  • The revolutions of 1848
  • New states and new nations
  • Colonial empires
  • Workers' movement and birth of socialism
  • Great War
  • Russian Revolution and International Communism
  • Rise and development of Fascism
  • Crisis of the Thirties
  • New European order and new Mediterranean order
  • Antifascist Europe and the Second World War
  • The post-war period
  • Geographies of the Cold War
  • Long 1960s and social revolution
  • Decolonization
  • Movements and political violence
  • Transitions to democracy in Southern Europe
  • Neoliberal revolution
  • Collapse of the Soviet system and revolutions in the East
  • Globalization, fragmentation and new conflicts


Both attending and non-attending students are required to have a thorough knowledge of the following chapters in the textbooks:

A. Banti, L'età contemporanea: dalle rivoluzioni settecentesche all'imperialismo, Laterza
chapters 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 17, 18, 20, 21, 24

A. Banti, L'età contemporanea: dalla Grande guerra a oggi, Laterza
chapters 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

For a greater deepening on the history of the '900, replaceable with: F. Bartolini, B. Bonomo, A. Gagliardi, L’Europa del Novecento. Una storia, Carocci 2020
[as an introduction to historical method we also recommend: M. Bloch, Apologia della storia o Mestiere di storico, Einaudi 2009].

For attending students, in addition to the two manuals, will be required to study:

  • one text from list A
  • a couple of texts from list B (1 monograph and 1 narrative text, as an example of literary source or use of oral sources).

In substitution of the texts from the A and B lists, the attending students will have the possibility to submit a written work (min. 30.000 - max 40.000 characters) on one of the monographic course on Violence of war and violence of peace, on a local scale. The sources selected for the paper must be presented in class and discussed during the exam. More information will be provided during the first week of class.

For non-attending students, in addition to the two manuals, the study of the following texts will be required:

  • M. Mazower, Le ombre dell'Europa. Democrazie e totalitarismi del XX Secolo, Garzanti, 2009
  • a couple of texts from list B (1 monograph and 1 narrative text, as an example of literary source or use of oral sources)


Lista A

M. Gauchet, Robespierre. L'incorruttibile e il tiranno. Tra libertà e Terrore: le memorie divise della Rivoluzione francese, Donzelli 2019

W.S. Allen, Come si diventa nazisti: storia di una piccola città, 1930-1935, Einaudi, 2014

C.R. Browning, Uomini comuni. Polizia tedesca e «soluzione finale» in Polonia, Einaudi 2004

T. Todorov, Una tragedia vissuta. scene di guerra civile, Garzanti, 2010

A. Portelli, L'ordine è già stato eseguito. Roma, le Fosse Ardeatine, la memoria, Donzelli, 2019

C. Venturoli, Storia di una bomba. Bologna, 2 agosto 1980: la strage, i processi, la memoria, Castelvecchi 2020

G. Proglio, I fatti di Genova. Una storia orale del G8, Donzelli, 2021


Lista B

B. Bagnato, L' Europa e il mondo. Origini, sviluppo e crisi dell'imperialismo coloniale, Mondadori Education-Le Monnier 2006 + J. Conrad, Cuore di tenebra, Feltrinelli 2013

E. Leed, Terra di nessuno. Esperienza bellica e identità personale nella Prima guerra mondiale, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2014 + M. Bloch, La guerra e le false notizie. Ricordi (1914-1915) e riflessioni (1921), Donzelli 2004

E. Traverso, A ferro e a fuoco: la guerra civile europea 1914-1945, Bologna, il Mulino, 2007 + E. Von Salomon, Proscritti, Baldini & Castoldi 2014

C. Duggan, Il popolo del Duce. Storia emotiva dell’Italia fascista + F. Colombara, Raccontare l’Impero. Una storia orale della conquista d’Etiopia (1935-1941), Mimesis 2019

S. Peli, Storie di Gap. Terroriamo urbano e Resistenza, Einaudi 2014 + M. Callegari, La sega di Hitler. Storie di strani soldati (1944-1945), Editpress 2021

F. Romero, Storia della guerra fredda, Torino, Einaudi, 2009 + D. Trumbo, Lettere dalla guerra fredda. il dramma del maccartismo, Bompiani 1977

S. Pons, La rivoluzione globale. Storia del comunismo internazionale, Torino, Einaudi, 2012 + Vasilij Grossman, Tutto scorre..., Adelphi, 2010

T. Judt, Postwar. La nostra storia 1945-2005, Introduzione e Parte III - Intervallo 1971-1989, Laterza 2020 + B. Tobagi, Una stella incoronata di buio. Storia di una strage impunita, Einaudi, 2013

J. Rupnik, Senza il muro. Le due Europe dopo il crollo del comunismo, Donzelli, 2019 + Ivica Dikic, Metodo Srebrenica, Bottega Bottega Errante, 2020

Teaching methods

The course will alternate frontal lessons with moments of discussion with students and analysis of sources. In order to stimulate a dynamic debate and active participation, students will be invited to prepare speeches on specific topics.

Assessment methods

Verification of learning will take place through oral examination.

In order to pass the exam, the student will have to demonstrate to:

  • know the main events of contemporary history between '800 and '900
  • recognize the essential characteristics of transitions in European history
  • be able to compare violence in different spatial and temporal contexts, identifying characteristics and specific relevance.

Contribute to the final grade:

  • Mastery of subject content
  • Ability to deal with the required topics in a cross-cutting and critical way
  • Correctness, clarity, synthesis and fluency of expression
  • Appropriate use of the specific language of the discipline, themes and authors
  • Capacity of autonomous and personal re-elaboration of contents


Top marks will be awarded to a student displaying an overall understanding of the topics discussed during the lectures, combined with a critical approach to the material and a confident and effective use of the appropriate terminology.

Average marks will be awarded to a student who has memorized the main points of the material and is able to summarise them satisfactorily and provide an effective critical commentary, while failing to display a complete command of the appropriate terminology.

A student will be deemed to have failed the exam if he displays significant errors in his understanding and failure to grasp the overall outlines of the subject, together with a poor command of the appropriate terminology


Teaching tools

Written, literary, iconographic, and video sources as a starting point for presentation of topics and discussion with students.

Office hours

See the website of Toni Rovatti