This is most recent syllabus. Your final syllabus will be given during your first day of class
This hybrid history/cinema course provides an in-depth examination of Cosa nostra through a historical, social, and cultural perspective. The course will trace the progression of the Sicilian mafia from the Risorgimento to the present day, also considering the migration of this group into the States. The fiction – stereotypes, myths, and legends – surrounding the mafia will be examined through a scrupulous analysis of some of the most important American and Italian films portraying mafia culture.
An important aspect of this course will consist of discussions on important protagonists in the fight against the mafia and collaborations between Italian and US law enforcement in their efforts to defeat transatlantic organized crime. The service learning project of this course will reinforce the classroom lessons on this particular subject.
By the end of this course, you will:
- have developed a basic understanding of Cosa nostra, its origins, growth, and persistence;
- be able to relate historical facts about the mafia to a broader Italian and American context;
- be able to compare and contrast the Italian and American mafia;
- develop an interdisciplinary understanding of a specific aspect of Italian and U.S. history;
- acquire a sufficient appreciation of the representation of the mafia in cinematic popular culture;
- be able to relate films to your specific sociological and historical contexts; and
- have improved your ability to think critically about the impact of the Mafia on society (both in history and today).
Service Learning Project Description
The association Libera. Associations, names and numbers against mafias was established in 1995 with the purpose of involving and supporting all those who are interested in the fight against mafias and organized crime. Libera is presently a network of more than 1,200 associations, groups and schools, committed to build(ing) up organizational synergies between the political and cultural local realities capable of promoting a culture of lawfulness.
In this course, you will learn about Libera’s history and especially about Italian Law n. 109/96, which hands over properties seized from Mafiosi to co-operations such as Libera. You will then visit one such property, the Col di Pina farm at Pietralunga, and participate as volunteers in their annual potato harvest – a symbolic activity designed to bring people together to transform confiscated land into flourishing, community-oriented space. You will be asked in subsequent assignments to reflect upon your experience with Libera and raise awareness about the mafia’s power and history in the Umbra community. The conclusion of this service learning project will be a dinner at a local restaurant in the historical center of Perugia, in which you, representatives from Libera, and the public will share a celebratory meal together, prepared using the potatoes harvested at Col di Pina, as one important step in the fight for lawfulness.
- Godfather I
- Godfather II (selections)
- I cento passi (The Hundred Steps)
- Donnie Brasco – evening screening*
- Excellent Cadavers
- La siciliana ribelle (The Sicilian Girl)– evening screening*
- La mafia uccide solo in estate (The Mafia only kills in Summer)
- Sopranos (TV series, selections)
Bibliography (on reserve in the Umbra Institute Library)
- Dickie, John. Cosa nostra: A History of the Sicilian mafia. London: 2007.
- Newark, Timothy. Mafia Allies: The True Story of America’s Secret Alliance with the Mob in World War II. St. Paul, MN: Zenith, 2007.
- Pickering-Iazzi, Robin. Mafia and Outlaw Stories from Italian Life and Literature. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.
- Raab, Selwyn. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires. New York: Thomas Dunne, 2005.
- Renga, Dana. Mafia Movies: A Reader. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011.
- Reppetto, Thomas. American Mafia: A History of its Rise to Power. New York: Holt, 2004.
- Stille, Alexander. Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic. New York: Pantheon, 1995.