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Course name:                                  Italy Through Italian Film

Course number:                              SOCI 250 98

Theme Area:                                    Social Justice

Term:                                                 Fall 2019

Course meeting times:                  Thursday 2 – 5 pm  + film viewing

Textbook                                          Bondanella, Peter, Italian Cinema from NeoRealism to the Present Continuum


Contact Information:          ;


Giuseppe Losacco is a sociologist and documentary filmmaker and teachs “Italy Thru Italian Film” at the Italian Campus since 2002. He also teaches “Visualizing Italian Society” at the Department of Sociology and Business Law University of Bologna, Italy and in the past taughts  the following courses at the University of Bologna and Forlì: Social Policies, Theories of Mass Communication, Sociology of Art, Social Anthropology, Visual Sociology, Theories and Techniques of Mass Communication, Marketing, Social Anthropology, Methodologies of Qualitative Analysis, Sociological Documentary, and Contemporary Italian History for CIEE- Ferrara.

He is author and co-author of some essays and books, including, among them: Wop or Mangiacake (Franco Angeli 2003), New Manual of Visual Sociology (Franco Angeli 2009), Visual Sociology and Studies of the Territory (Franco Angeli 2012),  Qualitative Data Analysis from Tradition to Innovation (Franco Angeli, 2013).


Course Description

This course is based on the vision and the analysis of films made in Italy from the end of World War II to the half of the ‘70. We will see some of the most important movies of the Italian film history (i.e. “La dolce vita”, “Rome open city”, “Bread and chocolate” “900”  etc..). The aim of the course is to use these films as telescopes on the past and to reflect on the present of Italian culture, from both the historical and social point of view. In other words, this is a sociology course on Italian culture, where movies are used as data as well as a stimulus for the debate. In addition, another level of analysis will concern the styles, the schools and the directors of the shown films, and the technical and social contexts that influence the different styles. In this step, we will consider the mass communication linguistic techniques (figures of speech, metaphors, analogies), to identify both clear and hidden messages in movies.

The course plan  


Every week you will see as “homework “ a different movie and, during the first part of the lesson, we will discuss the film and the historical and social period involved. I will provide you with useful information that will integrate your textbook. In the last part of the lesson, there will be an introduction to the next movie and I will give you the reading key, in order to better understand what you will see.


Methods of Instruction


The course will use lectures, discussions, and video material. The parts of the textbook indicated in the syllabus have to be read before each class. Other additional documents on relevant issues will be provided by the instructor.

Attention, very important: the textbook provides only a part of the knowledge required for passing the exams (medium term and final). It is therefore important to take notes during the lessons as most of the exam questions will concern the analysis of the characters and scenes discussed in class. Moreover, during the lessons, sociological concepts that are not present in the textbook, will be provided.


Assignments, test, examinations

\ For every lesson, you will be asked to study the pages of your textbook as indicated in the syllabus.

\ There will be two written examinations (midterm and final) based on open-ended questions concerning the topics treated in the lessons.

\ You will be involved in a photography project on the topics presented during the course


Course Requirements

Assessment and Final Grade

  1. Photographic project: 10%
  2. In-class midterm: 40%
  3. In-class final exam: 50%


The photographic project (10 %)

The aim of this course is also to learn how images can describe a culture. For this reason, during the semester, you’ll be invited to produce a photographic essay around some topics related to the Italian culture. More details will be provided during the course.

Midterm Exam (40%)

The midterm exam will include open-answer questions.

Final Exam (50%)

The final exam will include open-answer questions. The final exam questions will cover the films seen in the second part of the course

Attendance and participation

Attendance and class participation is very important.  Readings must be completed before the class begins and you will be expected to be familiar with the content and able to answer questions on what you have read.

Class behavior:

-Maintain a respectful and appropriate posture and behavior in class

-Ask permission to leave the classroom

-Avoid eating or drinking in class (except water)

Is absolutely forbidden to use during class, phones, tablets, and laptops.


Lessons Schedule

Fall  2019

Film viewing and readings have to be completed before each lesson.


Lesson 1



Introduction to Italy Through Italian Film:

– The social construction of reality

– Marshall McLuhan: Medium and Message
– Historical aspects and ideological aspects of film
– The languages of cinematic storytelling

intro to ‘900


Lesson 2



Film:  ‘900 – Bernaldo Bertolucci (Part 1 )

Vision of the film in the classroom




Lesson 3



Film:  ‘900 – Bernaldo Bertolucci (Part 1- 2 )

Bondanella chapter 8

Required Reading : 310 – 314 / Suggested Reading: 296 – 317

Analysis of the movie ‘900 Part 1 and part2

-The director and his style

-The social-historical context of the period narrated

-Status System VS Stratum System

-The main characters and most significant scenes

-The link between progress and society

The ideological aspect of the movie


Lesson 4





Film: Rome Open City  – Roberto Rossellini (1945)

Bondanella chapter 2

Required Reading : 31 – 42 / Suggested Reading: 43 – 73


Analysis of the movie Rome Open City

-The birth of Neorealism

-The director and his style

-The social-historical context of the period narrated

-The main characters and most significant scenes


 Lesson 5


Lesson 6



Film: Bitter Rice – Giuseppe De Santis (1949)

Bondanella chapter 3

Required Reading : 75 – 85 / Suggested Reading: 86 – 102

Analysis of the movie Bitter Rice

-The Boundaries of Neorealism

-Towards the break with Neorealism

-The director and his style

-The social-historical context of the period narrated

-The main characters and most significant scenes



Lesson 7



Film: Divorce Italian Style – Pietro Germi (1961 )

Bondanella chapter 4

Suggested Reading: 103 – 141

Bondanella chapter 5

Required Reading : 142-160 / Suggested Reading: 161-195

Analysis of the movie Divorce Italian Style

– The Italian comedy

-The director and his style

-The social-historical context of the period narrated

-The main characters and most significant scenes

-Ferdinand Tonnies: communities and societies


Lesson 8




Film: Rocco and His Brothers – Luchino Visconti (1960)

 Bondanella chapter 6

Required Reading : 196 – 210 / Suggested Reading: 211-228

Analysis of the movie Rocco and His Brothers

-A new dimension in Film Narrative

-The director and his style

-The social-historical context of the period narrated

-The main characters and most significant scenes

-Mary Douglas Grate and Group Scheme


Lesson 9 



Film: La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life) – Federico Fellini (1959)

Bondanella chapter 4 and 6

Required Reading : 113-116 /  228-234

Suggested Reading: 117-141 / 234-252


Analysis of the movie La Dolce Vita

-The director and his style

-Face and Mask

-The social-historical context of the period narrated

-The main characters and most significant scenes

 – Symbols and metaphors in the cinema of Fellini

-The main characters and most significant scenes

 Lesson 10 Film: Bread and Chocolate  – Franco Brusati (1974)

Bondanella chapter 9

Required Reading: 318-332

Suggested Reading: 333-346

Analysis of the movie Bread and Chocolate

-The director and his style

-The social-historical context of the period narrated

– Italians and emigration

-The main characters and most significant scenes


lesson 11





A look at the past and one at the future
Vision in the class of the film “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso” by Giuseppe Tornatore
Film analysis
Lesson 12