© 2016

Italian Modernities

Competing Narratives of Nationhood


Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Rosario Forlenza, Bjørn Thomassen
    Pages 1-22
  3. Rosario Forlenza, Bjørn Thomassen
    Pages 23-55
  4. Rosario Forlenza, Bjørn Thomassen
    Pages 57-90
  5. Rosario Forlenza, Bjørn Thomassen
    Pages 91-118
  6. Rosario Forlenza, Bjørn Thomassen
    Pages 119-148
  7. Rosario Forlenza, Bjørn Thomassen
    Pages 149-177
  8. Rosario Forlenza, Bjørn Thomassen
    Pages 179-208
  9. Rosario Forlenza, Bjørn Thomassen
    Pages 209-245
  10. Rosario Forlenza, Bjørn Thomassen
    Pages 247-269
  11. Rosario Forlenza, Bjørn Thomassen
    Pages 271-281
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 283-296

About this book


This book argues that Italy represents a privileged entry point into the comparative analysis of ideologies and experiences of modernity. The book compares how thinkers and politicians belonging to different ideological clusters - Liberalism, Communism, Fascism, Chistian Democracy - came to formulate multiple and often antagonistic visions of Italy's road to the modern. By revisiting Italian political history from the late nineteenth century until the present with a focus on transition periods, Italian Modernities explores how competing historical narratives influenced shifting understandings of Italian nationhood, thus foregrounding the active role of memory politics in the formulation of multiple modernities.


Italy Italian studies memory politics modernity nationhood democracy liminality political history transition Communism Fascism Liberalism

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.RoskildeDenmark

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Italian Modernities
  • Book Subtitle Competing Narratives of Nationhood
  • Authors Rosario Forlenza
    Bjørn Thomassen
  • Series Title Italian and Italian American Studies
  • Series Abbreviated Title Italian and Italian American Studies
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, New York
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-50155-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-69918-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-49212-8
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 296
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Italy
    Cultural History
    Historiography and Method
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“The authors have taken on a daunting task: they do not confine themselves to a narrow analysis of various ‘narratives of modernity,’ but in effect present these narratives as vehicles for explaining all of modern Italian history. … this book is most useful as an introduction to the intellectual and political history of modern Italy. Forlenza and Thomassen do an excellent job of explaining major theorists and key junctures in the country’s twentieth-century development.” (Joshua Arthurs, American Historical Review, Vol. 123 (04), October, 2018)

“Through the prism of modernity, this book seeks to provide an engaged narrative of the history of united Italy … The authors, Rosario Forlenza and Bjørn Thomassen, have extended their scope to include political and literary approaches that were defeated, or left unfinished. In doing so, they allow the reader to reflect on the words, expectations and reflections of contemporaries.” (Claudia Baldoli, English Historical Review HER, September, 2018)

“It provides the reader with an overview of the development of the concept of modernity in Italy, bringing together the ideas of some of Italy’s most important intellectuals. … Italian Modernities represents a rich account of the evolution of the concept of modernity in Italy, bringing together and re-elaborating canonical authors in Italian theory.” (Enrico Zammarchi, Italian Studies, Vol. 73 (02), March, 2018)

“Forlenza and Thomassen have produced a thoroughly useful overview of modern Italian history, structured around different conceptions of modernity that are likely to remain controversial in the future. Their book will be invaluable for students and specialists in Italian history and culture, together with specialists in development who may want to look at Italy in broader comparative studies. They show beyond doubt that we all have a great deal to gain from properly multidisciplinary perspectives.” (Bruce Haddock, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, Vol. 22 (5), November, 2017)

“This wide-ranging volume offers a broad analysis of how competing ideologies within modern Italy ‘formulated multiple and often antagonistic visions of modernity’ … a valuable addition to modern Italian political history, and, given the breadth of its coverage, has particular potential to be used as a set text for undergraduate courses on Italian politics and political thinking.” (Selena Daly, Modern Italy, Vol. 23 (01), September, 2017)

“Forlenza and Thomassen have recounted the main themes running through modern Italian history from post-unification to the present, summarizing admirably the most important intellectual debates, and showing how every current of thinkers effectively created an original tradition of thought, at once specifically Italian and modern. … Forlenza and Thomassen’s study is an important contribution, which will be of immense benefit to both historians and social and political analysts of modern and contemporary Italy.” (Enrico Dal Lago, European History Quarterly, Vol. 47 (4), 2017)