Contemporary History (2017/2018)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Federico Melotto
Federico Melotto
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. IIB dal Apr 23, 2018 al Jun 9, 2018.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The educational objectives of teaching Contemporary History, in accordance with the more general objectives of the course of study in Educational Sciences, aim to give the students of both curricula the necessary skills for them to take on the different professional roles offered by the world of social services.

In particular, the course aims to achieve two macro-objectives:
1) to allow students to form their own basic “historical culture”;
2) to provide students with the indispensable cultural instruments to rationalize the sense of time and space, in order for them to critically examine historical interrelationships and to approach “their” contemporariness more consciously.

A basic yet solid knowledge of Contemporary History allows students to act with greater awareness and mastery; it mostly allows them to properly contextualize social and cultural problems, thanks to a greater understanding of the general geo-historical contexts. Furthermore, the study of Contemporary History increases the ability of students to place the educational issues within a broader historical-cultural framework, find solutions and argue reasoning.

At the end of the course, students have to prove that they have gotten the basic elements of knowledge of Contemporary History; furthermore, they are supposed to argue critical reflections about the main thematic issues of contemporary age quite individually and to be sufficiently able to explain them clearly.


The course aims to outline a general overview of the main events of the political and social history of the 20th and 21st centuries, so that students can be provided with the cultural instruments necessary to properly understand the thematic issues of the Italian and world contemporary age.
In particular, the following topics will be covered:

1) The Belle Epoque and the origins of contemporary Europe.
2) The origins of contemporary Italy: the Giolittian era and its contradictions, seized and failed opportunities.
3) The Apocalypse of industrial and war modernity: questions and issues related to the First World War.
4) An impossible transition: political violence, apocalypse of democracy and fascism.
5) The age of totalitarianisms (with a particular attention to educational policies).
6) The world after the catastrophe. The hard journey towards rebirth (1945-1950).
7) The golden age in the Western world, the “birth” of the Third World (1945-1975) and the great transformations from the sixties onwards.
8) To observe and figure out the world we live in: the seventies, eighties and nineties.
9) The contemporary world problems: the globalization as a failed opportunity, the new migrations, the return of nationalisms, the rise of populisms and the crisis of democracy.

Being the course an introductory one, attended by a large number of students, the lessons will be mostly one-sided, that is the teacher will lecture on the topics most of the time, without debates or discussions. Nevertheless, there will also be thematic insights into some particular types of documents (specific and significant archive papers, historical documentaries, songs etc.). At the end of the course, some educational trips will be organized to the places where historians carry out their own researches. In particular, the following places will be visited: the State Archive of Verona, the Municipal Library of Verona, the Capitular Library of Verona.

These visits have two main objectives:

1) to allow students to understand the process through which the historiographical “tale” is being created, which is always connected to the study and analysis of archive papers and the bibliographic research;
2) to allow students to better figure out the complex process for elaborating any scientific study and, therefore, to become more aware, in view of the thesis drafting, of the importance of the sources research.

Each group of students taking part in the visit cannot be formed by more than twenty people. Each group will be accompanied by the teacher and will make use of a guide within the visited place. The visits will be organized at the end of the course.

A) Reference texts (for attending and not attending students):
G. Sabbatucci, V. Vidotto, Storia Contemporanea. L'Ottocento, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2008 (ONLY chapters "L'Europa tra i due secoli", and "L'Italia giolittiana").

One of the following texts to be selected:
G. Sabbatucci, V. Vidotto, Storia Contemporanea. L'Ottocento, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2007;
A. M. Banti, L'età contemporanea. Dalla Grande Guerra a oggi. Laterza, Roma-Bari 2009.

B) One of the following books to be selected:
1) M. Colucci, M. Sanfilippo, Le migrazioni. Un'introduzione storica, Carocci, Roma 2015;
2) M. Campanini, Storia del Medio Oriente contemporaneo, il Mulino, Bologna 2017;
3) D. Tosini, Terrorismo e antiterrorismo nel XXI secolo, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2007;
4) A. Molinari, Una patria per le donne. La mobilitazione femminile nella Grande Guerra, il Mulino, Bologna 2014.

C) Gli studenti che necessitano di 9 crediti formativi ai testi già indicati devono aggiungere:
F. Barbagallo, L'Italia repubblicana. Dallo sviluppo alle riforme mancate (1945-2008), Carocci, Roma 2012.

Assessment methods and criteria

The final examination is written.
Objectives: to test the proper knowledge of Contemporary History and the ability to argue a critical reasoning about the main thematic issues.
Contents: the open questions regard the whole chronological period covered during the course (the twentieth century and the early years of the twenty-first century).
Mode: the exam is made of four open-and-limited-space-answer questions (15/20 lines). The first three questions are meant to test the knowledge of the general and handbook part, whereas the fourth question regards the specific book chosen by each student according to their own interests.
Marks: each question is given a mark, 7 points for the three questions regarding the Contemporary History handbook, 9 points for the question regarding the further specific book. The arithmetic sum of the marks for each question determines the final result.

The non-attending students are not going to sit a different examination.