Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

Professor on stage at the Oxford Literary Festival

Wed Apr 05 10:38:00 BST 2017


Professor Anna Bull with her book Modern Italy: A Very Short Introduction

— Professor Anna Bull with her book Modern Italy: A Very Short Introduction.


Professor of Italian History and Politics, Anna Bull, found herself addressing 60 literary enthusiasts at this year’s Oxford Literary Festival introducing her new book, Modern Italy: A Very Short Introduction . Preceding Italian cookery doyenne, Anna del Conte, and celebrity cook, Nigella Lawson, Professor Bull set the scene for all things Italian in what the Festival calls its soap box talks. These short presentations give readers the chance to hear from expert authors of the pocket-sized Very Short Introduction publications.

The popular Oxford University Press series of over 500 books covers everything from accounting to Augustine, plants to public health. Aimed at the general public, the books are written by experts in the field, combining facts, analysis and perspective, introducing a given topic - concisely.

Professor Bull found the book’s length its greatest attraction. She commented: “For me it represented a new challenge: how to write about Italy in 30,000 words while avoiding superficial or stereotypical representations.”

Professor Bull has undoubtedly risen to that challenge.

With over 10 book titles to her name, Professor Bull’s latest book examines the emergence of modern Italy from the time leading to Italian Unification in the mid-19th century, known as the Risorgimento, to the present day. This period has seen Italy move through many iterations of itself. It’s been through nationalism, fascism, becoming a republic after World War II, and finally a more recent process of modernisation, in which the country has embraced the culture of consumerism.

In describing the book, Professor Bull said: “The book is a concise and accessible, but also well informed and relatively sophisticated, analysis of many topical issues concerning Italy past and present. This includes the ways in which the country has managed to seduce the world thanks to its cultural appeal and ‘Made in Italy’ brand. I hope readers gain from it an understanding of Italy’s culture, politics, economy and society since Unification through the lens of its complex relationship with modernity and modernisation.”

The book is widely available in bookshops, online and as an ebook: ISBN-13: 9780198726517; DOI: 10.1093/actrade/9780198726517.001.0001