Fascism in Western Europe

School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music

College of Arts and Law


Code 20120

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 1 and 2

Module description

This module aims to introduce final-year students to some of the essential debates on fascism in history and culture. The concept of fascism is a complex one. The expression is often used in a very loose way and so the introduction of the course will be given over to trying to define what it means. This attempt at definition will explore differences between fascism on the Italian model, National Socialism in Germany and the authoritarian regimes of Vichy France and Fraco's Spain which developed a complex relationship with the 'fascist' model. The subsequent parts of the course will be divided into blocks of 3-4 weeks beginning with Italy (taught by Dr Daniele Albertazzi of the Italian Studies dept), then Germany (Dr Nicholas Martin of German Studies), then Spain (Prof Frank Lough of Hispanic Studies) and finally France (Dr Simon Kitson of the French Dept). Students will learn about, and be expected to analyse, the main themes of fascism (its concept of state authority - sometimes combined with an inversion of traditional hierarchies, its promotion of a cult of the personality of the leader, its racism; its hostility to the Left; its use of mass mobilisation, its development of a model of a new form of virility, its glorification of violence). Fascism will be analysed both through history and culture. The historical context and evolution of fascism will be explored. Visual material (film and art) will be shown to examine whether the fascists had a particular concept of visual culture and how they used this for promoting their vision of society and for mobilising the masses. Although the main chronological focus of these classes will be on the Inter-War and World War Two years, there will be some discussion of how far right groups have adapted a new neo-fascist discourse in the post-war years. At the end of the course, all four teachers will come together to present a collective lecture - to help the students examine similarities and differences between different visions of fascism.