Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

SOCL 280 Italy Today

Fall 2013



Period: Fall Semester 2013                            Professor: Sarah F. Maclaren Ph.D

Lessons: Wednesday                                     E-mail: smaclar@luc.edu; sar.maclaren@gmail.com

Time: 10.00 a.m.-12.45 p.m.                          Office hours: Wedsneday: 12.45-1.45 - by appointment

Class: 121


Course Purpose

We will study Italy from a sociological, cultural, political and anthropological viewpoint, in order to gain an overview of a country which has been a nation for just over one hundred years, marks considerable regional disparities, and has undergone great social and cultural changes since the end of World War II. The course is divided into two parts. We will begin by studying the dramatic social, political, economic and cultural transformations which turned Italy into one of world's leading industrial democracies, starting from the post-war reconstruction, the industrialization, the economic miracle of the 1950s and 1960s, and the great internal migration, to the social movements from 1968 to 1980, to the formation of a post-industrial society. We will see how Italy has achieved a high cultural profile and a level of material prosperity that have generated a post-modern, mass consumer and globalized society. Then, adopting an interdisciplinary focus, we will examine diverse sociological and cultural aspects of contemporary Italy such as Catholicism, gender identities, the role of the family, emigration and immigration, stereotypes and regional identities, media and material culture, etc. We will also focus on how Italy is changing today in the modern and globalized world and how the challenges are impacting Italian society.

As a result, I hope you will better understand, enjoy and contribute to Italian society.

This course is open to undergraduates from any major. It is an elective for non-sociology majors and is one of several options to fulfill the required number of sociology courses for majors. Sociology majors need to earn a “C-” or better for this course to count toward the department’s requirements for graduation.


Learning Outcomes:

Knowledge Area (Social and Cultural Knowledge):


1. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the transformation of Italy’s social, cultural and anthropological behaviors from the post-war period to today.


2. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding that Italian values and behaviour, lifestyles and consumption patterns were influenced by specific social factors and have changed substantially over the last 60 years

3. Students will demonstrate an understanding of differences of class, gender, and race relations in Italy.

4. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding that specific social and cultural traits, such as religion, family, gender, regionalism, stereotypes are influenced by context, culture and time.

5. Demonstrate an understanding of how the Italian individual self concepts stems from the familial, social, and cultural contexts in which Italians develop.


Course Overview and Goals

This course emphasizes the Italian experience, but also includes international comparisons and global perspectives. You will learn to think critically about contemporary Italian society and the transformation of values, behavior, gender relationships and lifestyles. You will learn to analyze Italy's specific cultural traits from the context and time in which they developed. You will learn to think critically about issues such as stereotypes, regional identities, and diversity in the global world.

We will study each topic descriptively and from a range of theoretical orientations. We will also learn from guest speakers – when feasible -, movies, and case studies.


In this course, I want students to:

Master some fundamental theories and facts about contemporary Italy.

Enjoy the Italian and Roman experience.

Learn about Italian contemporary society.

Explore one topic in depth.


Course Requirements


Students will complete the assigned readings and participate in class discussions and activities. The assigned reading materials should be read before (not only after) the lessons as the grade on class participation depends on demonstrating that the texts have been studied and the discussions on the topics dealt with are highly encouraged and are an integral part of the course


Discussion Leaders

Two students will lead the discussion each week. Each student will sign up to be discussion leader for at least two class periods. This means that these two people will be primarily responsible for facilitating the actual class discussion for that particular week using the questions set for the lessons.


Midterm exam:

The midterm exam will include selected questions based on the assigned readings and topics covered in the first part of the course.



Each student will write review on a book, a film or a documentary. Each student will select a topic of interest related to aspects of Italian contemporary society. This provides an opportunity to either explore a subject from the course in more depth, or to pursue material not otherwise covered in the course. The review will be 6,000 characters long. Deadline.


Research project:

The students are required to write a critical essay. This is NOT an opinion paper. Your paper must be supported by theory and/or substantive research that has been considered in class. The essay will be 10,000 characters long (including spaces, footnotes and bibliography) Deadline..


Final exam:

The final exam will include questions based on the readings and discussions covered in the second part of the course.


Grade grading:

The final grade will be calculated as follows:

Attendance, assigned readings, class participation                                                  20%

Discussion leader                                                                                                     10%

Midterm                                                                                                                   20%

Research Project                                                                                                       20%

Review                                                                                                                     10%

Final examination                                                                                                     20%


Grading scale:

93 – 100% A;                 90 – 92% A-;              87 – 89% B+;                 83 – 86% B

80 – 82% B-;                   77 – 79% C+;                 73 – 76% C;                    70 – 72% C-

67 – 69% D+;                 63 – 66% D;                    0 - 62 % F


Attendance and Deadlines Policy


Students are highly recommended to attend the lessons regularly, as the course does not only address theoretical issues but also the social and cultural experience of living and learning about Italy. The success of this course depends on interaction among all the members of the class. Given, however, that fact that we meet twice a week, no more than TWO unexcused absences are permitted. Each additional absence will incur a 5% lowering of participation grade. If the student is ill and notifies the dean and me, that, of course, is an excused absence.


Students must take the examinations and tests when they are set, because make up sessions will not be given, except for very serious reasons and authorized by the Academic Dean.


Cheating or dishonesty of any kind on an examination will be penalized by an F (0 points).



We will use the Blackboard site for this course. Students are expected to check the site regularly, also because emails will be sent to the class.


Semester Schedule


Semester Schedule:

1. Week 1

Course presentation


2. Week 2

Italian Society 1: 1945-1965

Worksheet provided


3. Week 3

Italian Society 2: 1965-1980

Worksheet provided


4. Week 4

Documentary on Italian Society


5. Week 5

Italian Society 3: 1980-Today

Worksheet provided


6. Week 6



7. Week 7

Film/Documentary on migration


8. Week 8

New Immigration


9. Week 9

Gender Relations


10. Week 10

Gender Relations


11. Week 11

Italian Catholicism Today


12. Week 12

Italian Catholicism Today


13. Week 13



14. Week 14