Mediterranean Cities: French and Italian Perspectives

This course considers the ways in which Mediterranean cities in France, Italy and North Africa have been viewed, experienced and conceptualized from ancient times to the present day. After studying classical and scholarly approaches to studying the idea of the Mediterranean, interactive and ecologizing, in the longue durée and microhistories, we shall explore the culture and history of Mediterranean cities and their societies.  Our exploration traces ethnic and religious diversity, cultural, economic, political exchange and the history and representation of built environments. We consider the ways in which the city has been imagined in French, Italian and English literature. As the course unfolds, students engage with cultural ideas that have long captured the imagination of writers worldwide. We study the city as a dreamscape "cité pleine de rêves," and move on to trace literary conceptions of travel, the Grand Tour and the seduction of the Mediterranean city and the northern tourist.  Following our close study of Venice mentalities, our course traces the history of networks and connectivity within medieval and early modern Mediterranean milieus. Aside from the familiar city-states and ports of call, we study in depth the free port city of Livorno and Jewish Sephardi diaspora.  Units follow on colonialism and post-colonialism in the North African Mediterranean city intertwined with cinematic narratives of the region.  Final units of the course trace the aesthetic, architectural, photographic representations of Mediterranean urban modernism from Mussolini¿s imprimatur on the landscape of Rome to the extraordinary developments of twentieth century art, architecture and urban design in Marseilles. To engage with contemporary issues, in the final unit we study representations of the cultural impact of migration on the region reading from Algerian born Italian author Amara Lakhous.  It is hoped that by the end of the course, students will have developed a foundational grasp of the Mediterranean city from the French and Italian perspectives and learned to distinguish among intertwining ideas of regional and national politics, economies, colonial and post-colonial imaginaries and myths and popular culture.

Class Number: 

ITAL 150C1


Regular grades are awarded for this course: A, B, C, D, E.

Usually Offered: 

Fall, Spring



Identical To: 

FREN 150C1

Approved As: 

General Education Tier One - Individuals and Societies
General Education - Diversity Emphasis