89984 - Comparative History in the Contemporary Age (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The course sets out to provide the methodological tools by which differing national cases may be compared, and hence to enable students to understand social, cultural and political dynamics occurring within the public sphere. By the end of the course students will have: mastered the methods of historical comparison and understood their different methodological implications; fully understood the evolution of social dynamics within one or more case studies; learned how to apply the knowledge acquired in analysing case studies to other similar phenomena; learned how to analyse the historical evolution of the public sphere in a comparative perspective; broadened the scope of their disciplinary skills via analysis of the specialist literature, a technique acquired during the course

Course contents

Comunication, Image and Power (XIX -XXI centuries.)

The course aims at introducing students to the methodology of historical comparison. In a.y. 2018/19 the course will analyse the historical evolution of the relationship between communication and power in Europe in the XIX and XX Centuries. In this context the course will focus on the role of the image in the representation of power and on Italian and German case studies.

Course Outline:

Lesson 1 Course Presentation
Lesson 2 Methodology of historical comparison
Lesson 3 Rites and power’s representation
Lesson 4 Stereotypes and prejudices in the communication process
Lesson 5 The birth of the press and public opinion
Lesson 6 Communication and image in unifications processes in XIX century
Lesson 7 The emergence of cultural industry and the rising role of public opinion
Lesson 8 Wat Propaganda
Lesson 9 Propaganda and Dictatorships
Lesson 10 Power, Art and Fascism
Lesson 11 Political communication in post-war democracies
Lesson 12 New Media and Power
Lesson 13 How to write a historical paper
Lesson 14 Communication in the new millennium
Lesson 15 Final discussion and assignment of paper’s subject



Readings are different between students that are attending the course and Students that are not attending the course

Attending students should study readings in section 1

Not attending students should study all readings in section 2 .1 + choosing 1 book in section 2.2

1. Compulsory readings for ATTENDING students

Syllabur for attending students

The readings list will be published before the semester’s beginning. Readings will be upload to AMS campus with few exceptions. In such a case the student should contact the teacher.
Students are expected to read each reading before the lesson and to debate it in the second part of the lesson.

2. Compulsory readings for students that WON'T attend the class

Students should study all readings of the section 2.1 and soudl select and study one book of the section 2.2.

2.1 General and Methodological Readings

- S. Cavazza, Filippo Triola (a cura di), Parole sovrane. Comunicazione politica e storia contemporanea in Italia e Germania, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2017
-Marc Bloch, Per una storia comparata delle società europee, in M. Bloch, Lavoro e tecnica nel medioevo, Roma-Bari. Laterza, 1990 ( ma va bene qualunque edizione), pp. 29-71,
-Theda Skocpol, Margaret Sommers. The Uses of Comparative history in Macrosocial Inquiry , in «Comparative Studies in Society and History» vol. 22, n.2 (aprile 1980), pp. 174-197
-M. Werner e B. Zimmermann, Beyond Comparison: Histoire croisée And The Challenge Of Reflexivity, «History and Theory» 45 (February 2006), pp. 30-50.
- H. Kaelble, Comparative and Transnational History, in «Ricerche di storia politica » special issue/2017, pp. 15-24

2.2 One book should be chosen in thie following list

- M. Forno, La stampa del Ventennio strutture e trasformazioni nello Stato totalitario, Soveria Mannelli, Rubbettino, 2005
- M. Cioli, Il fascismo e la sua arte: dottrina e istituzioni tra futurismo e Novecento, Firenze, L. S. Olschki, 2011
- R. Brizzi, L'uomo dello schermo: De Gaulle e i media, Bologna, Il mulino, 2010
- S. Montaldo, Celebrare il Risorgimento: collezionismo artistico e memorie familiari a Torino 1848-1915, Torino, Carocci, 2013
- P. Chiantera-Stutte. Von der Avantgarde zum Traditionalismus : die radikalen Futuristen im italienischen Faschismus von 1919 bis 1931, Frankfurt am Main, Campus, 2002
- D. Welch, Persuading the people: British propaganda in World War II, London, The British Library, 2016
- H. Grosshans, Hitler and the artists, New York, Holmes & Meier, 1983
-P. M. Potter, Art of suppression : confronting the Nazi past in histories of the visual and performing arts, Oakland, California, University of California Press, 2016
-David Forgacs, Stephen Gundle, Cultura di massa e società italiana: 1936-1954, Bologna, Il mulino, 2007
-Storia d'Italia, Annali, vol. 27, I consumi, a cura di S. Cavazza e E. Scarpellini, Torino, Einaudi, 2018 pp. 5-100 + pp. 434-454 + pp. 505- 660

Teaching methods

lectures alternated with seminar discussions

Assessment methods

Assessment for attending students

-50% paper on a subject proposed by the teacher, at least 30.000 characters = 4500 words (the calculation must include footnotes, but exclude the bibliography)

-20% assessment of the participation and of the paper's discussion

-30% Oral examination on the readings (Section 1+2)

-Deadline of the delivery of the paper will be define during teh course  ( 1 copy printed and signed by the student+ 1 copy send in word format)

-Regarding structure, footnotes and bibliography, students should follow the teacher's guidelines that are published on AMS campus.

Erasmus and overseas students attending the class
Erasmus and overseas students can write the paper and take the oral examination using English, German or French .

Assessment for NOT attending students :
50% Written examination on readings (section 2.1). [In case of persistence of the health emergency  oral examination on readings]
50% Oral examination on readings (section 2.2) .

The questions in the written part will have a different value, which will be indicated on the task and will normally range between 1 and 3 points.

Erasmus and overseas students not attending the class
Erasmus and overseas students can use English, German or French for the essay and for the oral examination.

General criteria of assessment

The achievement of an organic vision of the themes tackled, 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 comparative history will be assessed with marks of excellence. A largely mechanical or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, an inadequate ability to summarise and analyse, or language which is correct but not always appropriate, as well as a scholastic command of comparative history will lead to fair marks. Inadequate training or inappropriate language, as well as a lack of knowledge and understanding of comparative  history will lead to grades that are on the threshold of sufficiency. Formative deficiencies, inappropriate language, lack of orientation within the spatiotemporal dimension will lead to negative marks.

Teaching tools


Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Stefano Cavazza