Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

HIST 300 Topics: Women and the Transformation of Italian Society since the 1900s

Fall 2015

 H300: Wed 10:00 -12:30

 Instructor: Anne Wingenter

 e-mail: awingen@luc.edu

 office: Wed 12:40 – 2:00 or by appt. 


HIST300: Women and the transformation of Italian society since 1900.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course explores the history of women's experience in Italy during the 20th century. It is organized around analyses of key historical moments when there were intersections between challenges to the political order and challenges to the gender order. Across this chronological trajectory course readings, lectures and class discussion will outline the transformation of Italian society, the progressive independence of Italian women, the changing relationship between sexes, and the modification of gender roles. After an introductory examination of the social position(s)* of women in Italy at the turn of the 20th century, we will turn to early attempts of Italian women to organize in defense of their rights as citizens. We will then look at the impact on gender of industrialization and the First World War before moving on to the simultaneous modernization and repression men and women experienced during the Fascist regime. The second half of the course will start with a consideration of the degree of rupture or continuity represented by WWII, the Resistance and the immediate post-WWII period. We will then look at the social impact of the ‘economic miracle' and the related expansion of consumer culture and consider the influence of technology and politics on both the individual and the couple in the 1970s and 80s. The course will conclude with an examination of the relatively sudden changes in the social and political condition of Italian women that have taken place over the last thirty years and consider the open question of how immigration is offering new challenges to the gender order.

*Note: It should be understood that "Italian women's history" is not monolithic: Italy is a country with profound class and regional differences, differences which greatly affect gender roles. Therefore, we will pay considerable attention throughout the course to the diversity of woman's experiences over time.



Skills:  History as a discipline consists of analysis and expository writing. Consequently, the “writing intensive” aspect of this course is designed both to improve your general writing skills and to develop your ability to “do” history. Through engagement with controversial subjects and conflicting interpretations across primary sources and secondary texts, you will further develop your abilities to read and write critically and to recognize and question the political implications of history writing.

Knowledge: This course will give you a familiarity with the changing roles of Italian women over the last century and introduce you to a gendered analysis of some key moments of modern Italian history. More generally, it should sharpen your understanding of the interactions between gender and politics and illustrate how gender identity can change in response to specific historical circumstances.

 Required Reading: 

 Perry Willson, Women in Twentieth-century Italy.  Palgrave, 2010.

 Sakai and reserve documents (primary and secondary sources)




1. Class Participation and Forum posts- 10%

You are responsible for each week's readings and should come to class with specific questions and comments in mind. Students will be asked to volunteer to lead class discussion for each week, but our conversation will depend on the participation of all of the members of the class. By 7 pm Tuesday of each week, you must compose and post to the discussion board a reaction to the primary readings for the week. These should be approximately 200-300 words (about a page). I reserve the right to require formal written summaries of the readings should it become apparent that students are not keeping up with them. Lectures in this class deal with specific events, institutions and individuals and the historical debates surrounding them, the readings provide the context for these debates and the general narrative of Italian Women’s history.

2. Mid-Term Exam – 20%

The mid-term will include a variety of question types. These will be drawn from your texts, the Sakai readings and from the lectures.

3. Writing project – 50%

You are required to complete a research paper of approximately 10-12 pages in length. This assignment is to be completed in stages, each of which will account for a portion of your grade. Guidelines for this assignment and a break down of grading are provided at the end of the syllabus.

6. Final Exam – 20%

This will include a variety of question types and will focus on material covered since the mid-term.

Academic Integrity

Work turned in in this class is to be your own. Plagiarism is grounds for failure of the assignment and possibly the class. If you have doubts about the proper use/citation of sources, consult me before turning in the assignment in question.



Schedule of Classes:

Week One  () Course Introduction and Overview: Italian women at the turn of the century

Readings:, Joan W. Scott, ‘Gender: A Useful Category of Analysis,’Bruno Wanrooij, “Preface: Italian Masculinities,”and Madame Fanny Zampini Salazar, “Women in Modern Italy”* Sakai

Week Two  () Industrialization, agricultural reform and the challenge of “modernity”

Readings: Donald Meyer, Sex and Power (Chapters 2 and 3, pp. 15-53), Anna Cento Bull, From Peasant to Entrepreneur (pp. 121-132) and “Traditional songs of work and protest” Sakai

Week Three () Emigration and Gender Roles This class meets on Friday instead of Wednesday due to the Papal audience

Readings: Maddalena Tirabassi, “Bourgeois Men, Peasant Women,” Linda Reeder, “When the Men left Sutera” * Sakai

Week Four  ()  WWI and Italian Women

Readings:  DeGrazia, pp. 1-40, Paola Di Cori, “The Double Gaze,” On Reserve



Week Five  ()  The “New Men” of Fascism?

Readings:  George Mosse, The Image of Man (excerpt) and F. T. Marinetti, “The Futurist Manifesto,”* Sakai


Week Six  ()  What kind of women for the “New Men” of Fascism?

Readings:  DeGrazia, 41-76, 116-165,


Week Seven  ()  Italian women between Imperialism and War

Readings:  DeGrazia, 201-233 and Lorenzo Benadusi, “Private Life and Public Morals,” Sakai.

Mid Term Exam 

Week Eight   () WWII and the Resistance

Readings:  DeGrazia 272-288, Jomarie Alano, “Armed with a Yellow Mimosa,” and Maria Fraddosio, “The Fallen Hero” Sakai



Week Nine  () Post-War Italy – A New Order?

Readings: Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Unmaking the Fascist Man,” Penelope Morris, “Introduction,” and Molly Tambor, “Prostitutes and Politicians,” Penelope Morris “Harem Exposed” Sakai


Week Ten  () The Economic Miracle and the transformation of domestic life

Readings:  Corrado Gini and Elio Caranti, “The Family in Italy”* Luisa Tasca, “The Average Housewife in Post-World War II Italy,” Chiara Saraceno, “The Italian family from the 1960s to the present.” Sakai


Week Eleven ()  The Italian Feminist Movement and the battles for Divorce

 Readings:  Wendy Pojmann, “Emancipation or Liberation?” and Documents from Demau and Rivolta femminile,* Sakai

Week Twelve   () Women’s Politics in the Burlusconi Era

Readings:  TBD Sakai


Week Thirteen   () Immigration and Gender Roles

Readings:  TBD Sakai



Writing Project (dates are still approximate)

Your research paper accounts for fully one half of your grade in this class. It is to be completed in the following stages:


TBA:   Question/Proposal (5 points): The first stage of academic writing is the formulation of a question to direct your inquiry. In the first weeks of the semester, you should be thinking about what aspect of Modern Italy you wish to explore and checking to see what information is available to you. On the 29th you must turn in a working question and a proposed approach to the research. The proposal should address how you plan to approach the question. It must include what types of materials you plan to consult. This is a working proposal – which means that as you research your topic, both the question and the approach are likely to undergo modifications according to the requirements/peculiarities of the topic.


TBA:   Annotated Bibliography (10 points): This is a bibliography of sources you are gathering for your paper. You may end up citing only some of them in your actual paper, but all works consulted (even those you decide not to use) belong in your bibliography. You must provide at least 6 annotations. An annotation is a brief summary of a work placed beneath its bibliographic information. For the purposes of a research paper, this summary should focus on those parts of the work that are relevant to the topic. Your bibliography may conform to any of the standard styles. (ie. Turabian, MLA, etc. – available in the library) but must be consistent throughout.




TBA:   Sentence Outline with Thesis Statement (10 points): At this point you must transform your question into a thesis statement and organize your research into a full-sentence outline. See “Assignments” for guidelines on writing a sentence outline. Remember: the more detailed the outline, the more help I can give you with the direction of your paper. It is at this stage that you should be answering the following questions: What information have you found to support your thesis? What is still missing? Will you organize your paper chronologically or topically? What information will you include in each subsection? Note: an outline does not include the introduction and conclusion.


TBA:   Rough Draft: There is no separate point value for your rough draft, but it is, of course, in your interest to turn one in. It is at this point that I can make suggestions to help you improve the content or structure of your argument if necessary. It is also an opportunity to have the paper proofread by “fresh” eyes (although you are encouraged to help one another with proofreading as well). As this is a writing intensive class, the grade for your research paper will derive from both content and writing style. In short: grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax and vocabulary all count. After examining your draft, I will assign an “as is” grade which will later be replaced with your grade on the final version of your paper.


TBA:     Final Paper (25 points): The final version of your paper should include a title page, citations and bibliography. It must be turned in on Wednesday, April 9th. Late papers will be penalized at a rate of .5 point (out of the 25 available) per day starting at the beginning of class on April 9.