Contemporary History I - LM [Sede VR] (2019/2020)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Renato Camurri
Renato Camurri
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Other available courses
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem 2A, Sem 2B

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

Analysis and understanding of complex historical processes over time (including the analysis of shorter historical times in a long-term perspective) and in space (by linking the national history with the European and international ones), capturing the complexity and articulation of historical events, while being able to identify the most significant causal nodes.


Europe and the United States in the History of the Twentieth Century

The course aims to provide an in-depth knowledge of the European history of the period 1900-1980 and of the history of political, diplomatic and cultural relations between Europe and the United States in those years. There are three crucial steps to understand the evolution of these relationships in the first half of the twentieth century: The Great War and the Thirties that registrer the rise of two American presidents destined to play a central role in the world political scene as Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt and the phase that opens after 1945 with the reconstruction of Europe and the beginning of the Cold War.
Particular attention will be devoted to the period between the two wars and to the birth and evolution of totalitarian regimes that is presented in a comparative and transnational perspective, from the point of view of political, cultural and intellectual history.
The central part of the course will be devoted to the analysis of the fundamental characteristics of totalitarian regimes, to the cultural and diplomatic relations put in place in relation to the American world, to the history of fascism in a transnational perspective, to the phenomenon of intellectual and political exile, to the circulation of ideas between Europe and the United States in the interwar years. The last part of the course will focus on the evolution of political and diplomatic relations between Europe after 1945, on the birth of a new world order and on the beginning of the cold war, on economic development in the Golden Age years of world capitalism.
At the end of the course the student must be able to reach a high level of knowledge on: a) the periodization of the historical phases considered, b) the events that characterize the historical events examined in the period considered, c) the different historical processes that totalitarianisms have generated, d) the historiographic interpretations related to these processes.

The course structure revolves around three thematic blocks.

From the Great War to totalitarianism

1. The Great War and United States.
2. The post-war period and the crisis of liberal regimes in Europe.
3. Wilsonism.
4. Origins and characters of the totalitarianism.
5. Italian fascism: origins and transformations.
6. The Weimar Republic and the birth of Nazism.
7. The crisis of 1929.

The thirties

1. The New Deal: a global perspective.
2. The crisis of Europe in the interwar years.
3. Transatlantic fascism.
4. The United States and the "parallel diplomacy" of fascism.
5. Exchanges and circulations of ideas between Europe and the United States.
6. The experience of exile.
7. United States and World War II.

After 1945

1. The crisis of diplomatic balance and the birth of a new world order.
2. The reconstruction of Europe.
3. The origins of the Cold War.
4. The Cold War and cultural changes between Europe and the United States.
5. The Americanization of Europe.
6. The 70s-80s: protest movements and crisis of the liberal state.


1. A book chosen from:

S. Colarizi, Novecento d’Europa. L’illusione, l’odio, la speranza, l’incertezza, Laterza, 2015 (con esclusione del paragrafo 12).
M. Mazower, Le ombre dell’Europa, Garzanti, 2013 (e successive edizioni).
K. Patel, Il New Deal. Una storia globale, Einaudi, 2018.
V. De Grazia, L’impero irresistibile. La società dei consumi americana alla conquista del mondo, Einaudi, 2006.

2. Two books chosen from the following:

A. Testi, Il secolo degli Stati Uniti, Il Mulino, 2017.
F. Romero, Storia della guerra fredda. L’ultimo conflitto per l’Europa, Einaudi, 2009 (e successive edizioni).
D.W. Ellwood, Una sfida per la modernità. Europa e America nel lungo novecento, Carocci, 2012.
S. Cortesini, One day we must meet. Le sfide dell’arte e dell’architettura italiane in America (1933-1941), Johan & Levi Editore, 2018.

Non-attending students must add to the above bibliography the volume:

1. J. Chapoutot, Controllare e distruggere. Fascismo, nazismo e regimi autoritari in Europa (1918-1945), Einaudi, 2015.

Didactit modes

Frontal lessons, guided tour to museums and archives, projections of movies and documentaries, lessons with external guests, seminars.
The partecipants can prepare brief paper to expose in class.

Assessment methods and criteria

Assessment methods and criteria

1. Exam is based on a oral text.
2. Students must demonstrate their capacity in using historical concepts and the appropriate language. They must also demonstrate their ability in the connection between different historical processes, both national and international.
3. Questions will be based on the most important topics discussed during the lessons and suggested in the literature.
4. Method of valuation: the vote is expressed in marks from 18 to 30/30.