The course gives basic information about the formation of the contemporary world and its main cultural, economic, institutional, political and social transformations. Through repeated use of complex and critical knowledge, students will be introduced to a better comprehension of the roots of today global society


teacher profile | teaching materials


The course is divided in two parts:
a) the first is basic and it is devoted to an historical introduction to the contemporary world
b) the second is more advanced and it is devoted to the history of Italy during the Cold War

This part introduces to the history of 19th and 20th Century, to methodological issues (periodization, political use of history, memory, sources), to the main phenomena (revolutions and political ideas, industrial development, mass society), and to the main historical interpretations.
Main topics: 1. Introduction to Historical Knowledge 2. The Contemporary Age: An Appraisal looking from Today 3. The Demographic Revolution 4. The Industrial and Environmental Revolution 5. Communication Revolution 6. The Cultural Revolution: The Individual and the Spread of Culture 7. The Social Revolution: Peasants, Workers, Middle Class, Women 8. Political Revolutions 9. The Rise of the Contemporary “Political Sphere”: Reactionaries, Conservatives, Liberals, Radicals, Socialists 10. Nationalism: Unification in Italy and Germany 11.The Role of Religion: Secularization and De-Christianization 12. The Age of Modernization Begins 13. The Second Acceleration of Progress. The Second Industrial Revolution 14. The Birth of Mass Society 15. Colonial Imperialism 15. Reshaping Europe: The Surfacing of America and Asia 16. World War I 17. The Age of Totalitarianism: Crisis of Democracy and Economic Collapse 18. Bolshevik Communism 19. Fascism 20. Nazism 21. World War II 22. The Cold War 23. Decolonization and Third World 24. The Origins of Welfare 25. The Affluent Society 26. The Age of the Digital Revolution

A first module (2CFU) introduces to the political history of contemporary Italy and to her deep connection with Cold War bipolarity: from the break of the Anti-Fascist Alliance in 1947 to the «national solidarity« governments of the 1970s.
Main topics: 1. The National and the International Dimension of the «Total» Cold War 2. The Heritage of Fascism and War (1943-1946) 3. The Birth of the Italian Political System and the Beginning of the Cold War (1947-1949) 4. The Conflicts of the Centrismo Age (1950-1955) 5. Beyond Centrismo (1956-1961) 6. Peaceful Coexistence and Center-Left (1962-1968) 7. The Years of the «Strategy of Tension» and of the Crisis of the West (1969-1973) 8. «National Solidarity » (1974-1978)

A second module (2 CFU) analyses the issue of the Italian state difficulties from the national unification to the present.

Core Documentation

Part One
○ G. SABBATUCCI – V. VIDOTTO, Storia contemporanea. L’Ottocento, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2019, pp. 376 (esclusi i capitoli I-IV)
○ G. SABBATUCCI – V. VIDOTTO, Storia contemporanea. Dalla Grande Guerra ad oggi, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2019, pp. 552
○ S. CAVAZZA – P. POMBENI, L’età contemporanea, Bologna, Il Mulino 2018, pp. 232 (the book is available also in the online Pandoracampus platform, with supplementary resources, and interactive contents)

Part Two
○ G. FORMIGONI, Storia d’Italia nella Guerra Fredda (1943-1978), Bologna, Il Mulino, 2016, pp. 686
○ S. CASSESE, Governare gli italiani. Storia dello Stato, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2014, pp. 408

Reference Bibliography

No recommended readings requested.

Type of delivery of the course

Lectures and multi-media presentation.


Attendance to lessons and seminars is not mandatory, even though warmly recommended.

Type of evaluation

Obligatory written multiple-choice tests (30 questions) will verify the qualification on the history of the 19th, and 20th Century (and the beginning of the 21st). The test is based on the books by Sabbatucci and Vidotto, and cannot be passed without an in-depth knowledge of a good text-book on the subject. Information on the main historical interpretations of contemporary history, its main features and events (L’età contemporanea) and on the part about Italy in the Cold War and the history of the Italian State will be the object of an oral exam.