Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Italy and Italian in Europe and the Mediterranean

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT European Studies

DESCRIPTION Although the post-War years presented significant social and economic challenges for Italy, the country’s return to democracy and its transition from a monarchy to a republic defined and shaped its relationships with other European states. Evidence of this was Italy’s accession to NATO in 1949 and its role as a founding member of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome. Over the course of the years, as these institutions developed into the present-day European Union, Italy has held an important role in the development of modern-day Europe, while also being involved in decision-making within the Mediterranean basin.

In this context, Italy’s historical relationships with Malta are manifest both by means of bilateral agreements and political collaborations and through regular contacts between the two countries that have left their mark on demography, society and language, among others.

The introductory lectures of this study-unit will be dedicated to historical and cultural developments that took place in contemporary Italy and to how these shaped the country internally and as one of the member states of the European Union. Italy's place within the EU will be discussed, especially from a political, social and economic point of view. Reference will be made to the process which led to the adoption of the euro and the consequent economic issues that arose within the country.

Reference will then be made to the sociolinguistic features of Italy both in relation to its demography and to the standardization of the Italian language, within a heterogenous linguistic community characterized by regional varieties and dialects. This will be discussed from a comparative perspective by referring to social and linguistic developments in neighbouring Mediterranean countries, some of which are also the result of demographic changes caused by migration. Malta-Italy relations will be discussed both historically (e.g. the post-war era) and synchronically (e.g. migration, as a divisive issue in Italy’s relations within the EU, and tensions that arose also in the country’s relationships with Malta). Linguistic contact between Italy and Malta will be referred to by referring to Italian technicisms in Maltese legal language, especially from the point of view of synchronic contact within translated versions of EU legislation and the transposition of EU Directives into national law.

The final part of the study-unit will focus on the relevance of Italy and Italian within the local context by referring to economic and commercial partnerships, diplomatic relationships, political agreements and education. In this part of the course direct reference will be made to local institutions, companies and organisations in which there is a significant presence of Italian nationals. Invited speakers will outline the reasons for which Italians choose Malta as a base for their economic activities, the contribution that these make to Maltese society, and the demographics of the Italian community locally, which has increased in numbers recently.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to provide an overview of the role of Italy within Europe and present-day European institutions. Central themes include social and linguistic characteristics of Italy, also in comparison to similar features found in other European and Mediterranean states, with lectures providing the necessary basis to explore the Malta-Italy relations both from historic and modern-day points of view. The study unit also aims to highlight cultural aspects related to the Italian community in Malta, including its contribution to the local society.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- demonstrate knowledge of facts regarding Italy’s recent history and its role in the European Union, by being able to describe them in writing and to discuss them;
- demonstrate knowledge of the role of Italy in the shaping of modern-day Europe and in the Mediterranean basin, including relations with Malta by being able to describe them in writing and to discuss them;
- describe and analyse features related to social change, including those related to language and migration, by showing how these are relevant to the local context;
- reflect on social and linguistic contact by being able to debate critically.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- demonstrate that s/he possesses knowledge of how sociolinguistic and demographic developments are reflected in decision-making at a political level, with special reference to Italy’s role within the European Union and to the developments regarding the Italian language;
- use the general notions illustrated during this course to reflect on and discuss the presence of Italian nationals locally, as well as their involvement and contribution to society.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:


1. Berruto, G. (2018). The languages and dialects of Italy. In: Ayres-Bennett, W. & Janice Carruthers, Manual of Romance Sociolinguistics, Berlin/Munich/Boston, Walter de Gruyter. DOI:
2. Bindi, F. (2011). Italy and the European Union. Brookings Institution Press.
3. Gabaccia, D. (2000). Italy’s Many Diasporas. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
4. Ginsborg, P. (1990). A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943-1988, London, Penguin.
5. Goglia, F. & Hajek. J. (2021). Italian(s) abroad: Italian Language and Migration in Cities of the World - Language and Social Life, Berlin, De Gruyter Mouton.

(A list of additional readings will be provided at the beginning of the course - these will include some optional texts in Italian by Enzo Biagi and Indro Montanelli)

Recommended reading:

1. “Journal of Modern Italian Studies”, Taylor & Francis ( (Available online)
2. Brincat, J.M. (2011), Maltese and other languages, Midsea, Malta.
3. Caruana, S. (2020). L’inclusione degli italiani nella società e nelle scuole maltesi. Italiano LinguaDue, 12/2, 431-442 (Available online)
4. Caruana, S. (forthcoming). Continuing a long-lasting relationship: reflections on linguistic encounters of Italians living in Malta [submitted to Hajek, J. & Goglia, F. (Eds.) Italian(s) abroad Italian Language and Migration in Cities of the World. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton].
5. Dugga, C. (1994). A concise history of Italy. Cambridge. CUP.
6. Fabbrini, S. 2018. “Italy and the EU: A Relationship with Uncertain Outcomes.” In The Future of Europe: Views from the Capitals, edited by M. Kaeding, J. Pollak, and P. Schmidt, 61–64. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 7. Fabbrini, S. & Zgaga, T. (2019) Italy and the European Union: the discontinuity of the Conte government, Contemporary Italian Politics, 11:3, 280-293, DOI: 10.1080/23248823.2019.1642657 (Available online)
8. Fondazione Migrantes (2020). Rapporto italiani nel Mondo 2020. Todi: Editrice Tau. (Available online)
9. Portelli, S. & Caruana, S. 2018, “Observing Eurolects. The case of Maltese” in Observing Eurolects. Corpus analysis of linguistic variation in EU law, ed. L. Mori, John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 267-293.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Sandro Caruana

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.