Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

ROST 300 Italy Culture & Context

Spring 2014

Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

Spring Semester 2014


Italy - Culture and Contexts - Rost 300

Prof. Grazia Sotis

Course Content

To talk about Italian Culture and Civilization starting from the differences between the North and South, or from the various regions, one might fall into triteness.  Long ago Prezzolini in his book, The Legacy of Italy, has shown how the aspects of the highest Italian Civilization were universal and not only national, so that they were able to fulfill the yearnings of other peoples, not specifically only of the Italians.

The book by Enzo Biagi, L’Italia dei Peccatori, witnesses the change that occurred in our country, which do not seem to find an equivalent in the official culture brought abroad.  Luigi Barzini in his The Italians had already mentioned a discrepancy between the truthfulness and the image of the country.  Sergio Travaglia in Maledetti Italiani moves from this position with details as to reach statements of an economic type: culture is treated like an item for sale and everything depends on how well it can be sold, production and national artistic patrimony are the strongholds of our mission. If Giuliano Procacci, Storia degli Italiani, talks of Italy and the history of Italians in relation to the European Culture, Travaglia broadens the view by going beyond Europe and relating Italy to non-western cultures, so placing the Italian “product” on a world scale and using not only the cultural past but also the present.  In doing so he is able to establish the importance of the Italian culture so as to analyze all the aspects which are part of it, from the people to painting, architecture and literature; from philosophy to mathematics, religion, gastronomy, up to the point of taking into consideration the country’s physical features, such as the city, for example.

These preliminary remarks do not mean that, during the course, the differences that exist within Italy, as in any other country, are not taken into consideration.  The division into regions and their histories witness the cultural and folk variety.

Culture is also today’s living. So, besides an outline of a culture historically meant, it will also consider present days. For this reason we can deal with usage and costumes of the life of modern Italians, whether by modern we mean either a break or continuity with the past. To all this we must add that the Italian Culture does not express itself at home or abroad, as it did in the past, only through literary texts, but also through other channels such as gastronomy, cinema, music, etc.

Learning Outcomes

The study of the country, its tradition as well, will be presented through a selection of topics  viewed within their historical development. A dynamic propulsion between past and present will help shape and define a picture of modern Italy.

The course will provide a unified picture of Italy but also its regional differences and varieties.

Students’ active participation in the making and development of the course with their living experiences in the country will allow them to witness first hand and consequently to critique the many facets of Italian life.

Class material will also focus on the current semester activities. Students’ travel and also trips organized by the Rome Center are taken into consideration in the development of the course content for each semester. The course material is a one-year program divided in two independent semesters for the fall and spring.


The course includes one or two on site classes.

Students are asked to write two papers on a topic related to the country and people due before the midterm exam and final exam.

Class attendance is strongly recommended: students are allowed only for three unexcused absences. Failure to take an exam or quiz, unless justified by real necessity (e.g. illness; travel will never be accepted as a reason) brings an F in it. There will be no make-up exams.

Schedule of Classes

1st, 2nd , 3rd  4th & 5th week


Introduction - symbols used to define the Country on  Italian euro coins:  Marco Aurelio, Colosseo, Castel del Monte (Frederick II), Dante, The Vetrivium Man (Leonardo daVinci), the Birth of Venus (Sandro Botticelli), Mole Antonelliana  (Alessandro Antonelli), sculpture of Unique Forms of Continuity in Time and Space by Futurist artistUmberto Boccioni


  • The universal aspect of Italian culture and its folk and regional components
  • The way the Italian culture is perceived abroad
  • Showing of the film:  Pane e Cioccolata
  • Italy in the Seventies, Emigration and Immigration, Catholic Culture
  • Showing of the film:  Christ Stopped at Eboli
  • The Southern Question

Quiz 1


6th & 7th week


Gastronomy: food and festivities (Spring and Summer)


  • On site Sagra: is left open to students’ interest and opportunity


 1 Paper due


Exam 1

Mar 1st -10th

Spring Break


8th week

Commedia dell’Arte and Carnevale


  •  Masks
  •  Goldoni and Venice


9th & 10th & 11th week

Italian tales

  • Italo Calvino and the Italian folk-tales
  • Reading of Pinocchio
  • Showing of the film La Vita è bella


Quiz 2


12th & 13th week

Regions and Cities of Italy

  • Oral experience in Italy presentation related to students’ travel

Final paper due


Study Day





Artusi, Pellegrino                           L’Arte del Mangiar Bene

Calvino, Italo.                                Fiabe Italiane. Selections (required material)

Collodi, Carlo.                                Pinocchio (required material)

Duchartre, Pierre Louis                The Italian Comedy

Field, Carol.                                   Celebrating Italy (required material)

                                                      Hill Towns of Italy

                                                      In Nonna’s Kitchen

Forgacs, David &

Robert, Lumley                             Italian Cultural Studies: an Introduction (only selected chapters, required material)

Prezzolini, Giuseppe.                    The Legacy of Italy (on black-board in xerox-copy, only selected chapters)

Rowen, Shirley and David            Carnival in Venice


Magazines:                                    Journal of Modern Italian Studies

                                                      Modern Italy

                                                      A Journal of Historical Studies

Students' work and performance are evaluated as follows:


Class participation and discussions are strongly recommended.


2 Quizzes


Exam 1


Mid-term paper (4 pages, about 1300 words)


Final Exam


Final paper (6 pages, about 2000 words)


Oral Presentation

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays 2,00 pm – 2,30 pm and by appointment

Grading scale:























below  57



Attendance Policy and Academic Integrity Statement:

  • Daily attendance and active participation in class are vital factors in gaining literary knowledge and developing critical thinking skills.
  • The student is welcome to see the instructor at regular office hours or by appointment when additional help is needed.
  • Students are invited to prepare all readings before discussion in class.
  • Topics for the papers are to be discussed with the instructor before writing: these present such a wide spectrum that the choice will rest ultimately on the student.
  • All papers should involve strictly personal research:


“Pursuit of truth is the prime activity in a university community.  As a member of this community each student pledges to maintain standards of honesty and integrity in all academic work.  Exams:  Students must rely exclusively upon their own knowledge. Papers: students must document sources of secondary information. Failure to comply with these standards will result in a failing grade.”

From Celebrating Italy study:

                        Introduction pp.3-13 and festivities in part 1 and 2

From Italian Cultural Studies study:

Cap. I              Imagined Italies

Cap. III Anthropological Perspectives on Culture in Italy

Cap. IV            Images of the South

Cap. VII           Catholic Culture

Cap. IX            Immigration and Social Identities



Selected folktales from Calvino’s Italian Folktales:


Money can do everything  n.7



The Moor’s Bones n.121

The Chicken Laundress n.122

First Sword and Last Broom n.124



The Little Girl Sold with the Pears  n.11

The Snake  n. 12



The Five Scapegraces n.126

The Siren Wife n.132



The Crab Prince  n.30

The King of Denmark’s Son  n.36



The Thirteen Bandits n. 137



Petie Pete versus Witch Bea-Witch n.37

Quack Quack! Stick to my Back n.38

Jesus and S.Peter in Friuli n.41



The Widow and the Brigand n.145




The  Apple Girl n.85 

Prezzemolina n.86

The Fine Greenbird n.87


The Son of the Merchant from Milan n.62

Buffalo Head n.67

Olive n.71



Pippina the Serpent n.150

The Ismalian Merchant n.152

Giufà n.190

Fra Ignazio n.191



The Haughty Prince n. 102

Wooden Maria n.103

Nero and Berta n. 106



Saint Anthony’s Gift n.1