Spring 2016 - HIST 433W D100

Italian Films, Italian Histories (4)

Class Number: 4144

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 2260, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including nine units of lower division history plus eight units of upper division history, or permission of the instructor.



Explores the representation of modern Italian history through the medium of film. Students with credit for HIST 433 and/or HIST 486 in Fall 2007 (1077) may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


This seminar explores major themes and problems of Italian history from 1945 to the present. We will do so by way of Italian cinema, home to some of the most innovative, influential and even revolutionary film directors of the twentieth century. We will analyze, among other works, Roberto Rossellini’s portrayal of the Resistance during the Second World War; Vittorio De Sica’s heart-wrenching depiction of everyday life during the postwar reconstruction; Francesco Rosi’s exposé of the Sicilian mafia and political corruption; and Federico Fellini’s parody of social class and gender relations in the post-1945 Republic. In so doing, we will consider a number of important questions: How do we analyze film as historical text? How do we place authorial films and cinematic genres in their social and political contexts? What are the strengths and limitations of film as a medium for representing the past? How do films reflect or refute prevailing historical narratives? In this course, students will be required to view one film (out of class) per week. Full attendance, thorough preparation and active participation are expected.

NOTE: No background in film studies is necessary. Familiarity with twentieth-century European history is helpful.

NON-HISTORY MAJORS/MINORS: I very much welcome upper-division students from programs other than History. In past semesters, students from Contemporary Arts, English, French/Italian, Humanities, Business, Criminology, Political Science and still other programs have participated in and enriched this seminar. If you are interested in requesting permission to enroll, then I encourage you to e-mail me when it is your turn to register. I will decide special permissions on a case-by-case basis so long as space is available. Please be ready, if asked, to provide evidence of preparedness for the seminar.


  • Participation & short assignments 25%
  • Film analyses 35%
  • Final paper 40%



Carlo Celli & Marga Cottino-Jones, A New Guide to Italian Cinema***

Paul Ginsborg, A History of Contemporary Italy

*** This text is also available at no cost through the library’s Electronic Resources collection.

Registrar Notes:

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