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Italian Media: From Bread and Circuses to the Digital Age

Instructor: Barbie Latza Nadeau [see profile]
Disciplines: Communications, Film & Media Studies

Does the media reflect the ideals of a culture, or does it shape them? This course considers the unique aspects of Italian media and how it impacts and influences everything from cultural heritage to politics. We will explore Italy’s eccentric media characters, from Donald Trump-loving, far-right leader Matteo Salvini and chauvinistic Silvio Berlusconi to the tweeting, headline-making Pope, and consider how seriously Italians take what they get from the press. This course will explore the historical development of Italian media from the Acta Diurna bulletins (were they ancient tweets?) sent from the Roman Forum through phases of Fascism and national terrorism, all the way to the digital age. Students will play documentarian by following the media treatment of an Italian news topic of their choice, ranging from culture, fashion or food to gay rights, politics or the economy, to fully understand how the media shapes public perception—and vice versa. Topics will include the media treatment of the Vatican, the Mafia, gender issues and sexism, rascism and anti-immigration, fashion and food, cultural heritage and the economy. We will also consider how Italy stacks up against media in the United States and United Kingdom in terms of press freedom, transparency and infotainment (the melding of news and entertainment).


  • a paper (8-10 pages)
  • a midterm 
  • a five-minute presentation (short film, power point, audio, oral)
  • a final exam