Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

litr 268 / ints 268 Italian cultural history: A history of organized crime in italy

Spring 2012

course description

The purpose of this course is to analyze the sociohistorical development and growth of organized criminal groups in Italy, including the Sicilian Mafia, the Camorra, and the ‘Ndrangheta. Emphasis will be placed on the sociocultural and socioeconomic milieu in which these syndicates developed, the cultural and political environment in which such activity has continued to flourish, the steps that have been taken in the struggle against organized crime, and the conditions under which organized crime might cease to prosper. A variety of materials and techniques will be employed throughout the semester, including lectures, course readings, class discussions/debates, video/audio material. Class outings and guest speakers may also complement the course.


learning outcomes

Upon completion of LITR 268, students will have acquired detailed knowledge of organized criminal groups in Italy. Specifically, students will have the opportunity to:

  • Discover the historical basis of the development of organized criminal groups in Italy
  • Explain in a factual manner specific information concerning criminal groups in Italy, and in so doing dispel several commonly held myths and beliefs concerning such groups
  • Analyze criminal groups in Italy in addition to the Sicilian Mafia (e.g., the Camorra, the ‘Ndrangheta)
  • Read, interpret, and critique two Italian novels treating the topic of organized crime
  • Critically assess at least one full-length Italian film treating the topic of organized crime
  • Contribute to their own and their classmates’ knowledge of an aspect of organized crime in Italy through the completion of a research paper and audiovisual presentation
  • Discover the presence and importance of anti-organized crime activism
  • Determine under what conditions organized crime syndicates may cease to flourish in Italy
  • Examine the role of the Italian State in organized criminal activity


course requirements

In order to attain the learning outcomes outlined above and to ensure that the course proceeds efficiently, students are encouraged and expected to:

  1. Attend class. Not attending class will lower a student's grade for several reasons (e.g., lack of participation; missed clarifications, explanations, and analyses; missed vocabulary, etc.);
  2. Participate actively and constructively in class both with the instructor and other students;
  3. Take all quizzes and exams, and complete assignments on their scheduled dates and at their scheduled times (see dates under class schedule). Make-up quizzes and exams will be provided only in accordance with Rome Center policy regarding excused absences (see absence policy);
  4. Complete homework assignments on their due date;
  5. Comport themselves in a manner conducive to learning and with respect for other students.


general absence policy

In order for an absence to be excused, the student must present the instructor with a written note of excuse from the Dean of Faculty, the Associate Director of Students, or the Director of Residence Life. Please note that such personal reasons as travel plans, visiting relatives, friends, etc., cannot be accepted as valid grounds for excusing an absence unless authorized by the Dean of Faculty.


course-specific absence guidelines

Given that this class meets once a week, for the purpose of grade calculation, each unexcused absence that a student accumulates after the first will reduce her or his final grade by 3% (e.g., if a student's pre-absence grade calculation is 92%, with 4 absences the grade reduces 9 percentage points to 83%, resulting in a drop in the final grade from A- to B).

It is the student's responsibility to inform herself or himself of homework assignments, class notes, etc. in the event of absence.


required materials

          Some readings will be accessible through Blackboard and/or sent via email, or provided on digital support.


means of assessment

The final grade will be determined on the basis of the following criteria, and grades will be assigned according to the following scale:

                %            gr. pt.      meaning

A             100-94     4.00         excellent

A-            93-90       3.67        

B+            89-86       3.33

B              85-82       3.00         good

B-            81-80       2.67

C+           79-76       2.33

C             75-72       2.00         satisfactory

C-            71-70       1.67         min. for pass/fail option

D+           69-66       1.33

D             65-60       1.00         poor

F              59-0         0.00         failure

                                                            % of final grade           Grading Scale


Final Exam                                            20%

Research Paper                                       20%

Quizzes (2)                                            10%

Midterm Exam                                       15%

Critical Reflection Papers (2)                   10%

Presentation of Research Paper                10%

Presentation of Reading Assignment           5%

Various short writing assignments            (2)       10%


final exam


Date:                      |               am-pm   |   Place:


Those students who cannot attend the final exam session will receive a grade of 0 (zero) on the final exam (except those students with a valid excuse; see absence policy), and the final grade will be calculated accordingly.


academic integrity

The deliberate appropriation and representation of another person's work (ideas, language, findings, etc.) as one's own on any written assignment, quiz, exam, or paper—commonly referred to as "plagiarism"—will result in a student's automatic failure for that assignment or examination and notification of the Director that the student is suspected to have committed plagiarism. Any such behavior undermines the fundamental trust upon which academic integrity and a community of scholars is based. Each student must familiarize herself or himself with the rules referring to academic integrity as outlined in the Loyola University Chicago Undergraduate Studies Catalogue. Knowledge of the University's Academic Honesty guidelines will be taken for granted.



This course requires that each student activate and maintain access to Blackboard. Through this medium such tasks can be accomplished as communicating homework assignments, submitting homework, and communicating important course-related information. In addition, specific files can be accessed through Blackboard (e.g., printing course syllabus).


students with disabilities

Students with documented disabilities who wish to discuss academic accommodations should contact me the first week of class.

CLASS SCHEDULE (the following schedule is subject to modification)



Week of class




Week 1

course introduction



Begin reading The Day of the Owl & Gomorrah

Week 2

1) background information; origins of Sicilian mafia

working bibliography due in class


Dickie, Falcone, Blok, Santino

Week 3

2) spread of mafia activity / how “the mafia” survives / defining “mafia”

annotated bibliography due in class


Gunnarson, Paoli, Dickie

Week 4**


Quiz 1


Week 5

3) traditional cultural norms of the mafioso type


Discussion of Leonardo Sciascia’s The Day of the Owl


Arlacchi, Schneider & Schneider

Week 6

4) antimafia

Discussion of Leonardo Sciascia’s The Day of the Owl


Jamieson, Schneider & Schneider, Sciascia

Week 7

Midterm Exam



Week 8                                                            BREAK

Week 9

5) women and the mafia



Allum, Siebert, Di Maria & Lo Verso

Week 10

6) Neapolitan Camorra


rough draft of paper due in class; discussion of

Roberto Saviano’s Gomorrah


Week 11


Quiz 2 / Film


Week 12

7) Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta




Week 13

8) can organized crime be stopped?

final draft of paper due in class


Behan, Chubb, Schneider & Schneider

Week 14





* As “writing intensive”, this course incorporates a variety of assignments that are designed to help you become a better writer. Assignments include in-class and take-home writing activities, reflection papers, and a research paper. You will learn to use writing as a way to reflect on your learning, to express your ideas clearly and cogently, and to think critically. Among other concerns, the scheduled writing workshop will provide students with the opportunity to begin to work effectively on their research paper.