Short courses


Italian Life and Culture: The Relationship Between Italy and Britain in The Eighteenth Century

  • 2 hours per week
  • 5 weeks


This online evening course examines the relationship between Britain and Italy in the 18th century and the phenomena of the Grand Tour.

The Grand Tour was a custom where young aristocrats and aspiring gentry travelled around Europe, for the purpose of education. These trips involved visiting the heartland of Roman antiquity, the home of the poets Ovid, Virgil, Horace, etc.

The nature of such a journey soon evolved into a more complex affair. The delight people found on the Tour contrasted with more brooding forces that bound Britain and Italy in ways that were far from frivolous. Set against the failure of enlightenment, Italy’s heritage and natural beauty was recrafted as a beguiling muse for British romantic poets. This phenomenon resonates with the reverence that Anglo-American culture holds for Italy today.

This course is run by the UCL Italian Department. It's part of the 'Made in Italy' series which offers a uniquely comprehensive approach to learning the about the culture and history of Italy.

Who this course is for

This course is for anyone who is curious or passionate about 18th century Italian and British culture (including art, history, literature, politics and food).

You don’t need any previous knowledge of the subject.

Course content

The course is divided into five main topics:

  • The Grand Tour: Roman antiquity
  • The Grand Tour: Italian pleasure
  • Reformation political culture: The Jacobites and Italy
  • Enlightenment historiography: Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Romantic poetry: Byron, Shelley, and Italy

Structure and teaching

Classes are held on Zoom on Tuesday evenings, from 6pm to 8pm (UK time), over five weeks in the spring term.

In each class, you'll:

  • listen to a lecture-style overview of the week’s topic or work
  • take part in a group discussion of the themes raised

To prepare for the discussion sessions, you'll need to read a series of extracts before each class (approximately 50 pages each week). All texts studied will be in English.

You'll be sent details of the main texts and recommended editions when you register for the course.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course, you'll have:

  • a thorough knowledge of the texts studied in the course
  • a greater understanding of the historical contexts in which ideas are developed, in particular those of the Enlightenment
  • developed the critical skills required to assess and analyse early modern texts
  • greater confidence in engaging in critical discussions of the topics covered

Course team

Dr David Manning

Dr David Manning

David is a historian and interdisciplinary scholar of ideas, culture and religion in the English-speaking world, between c. 1600 and c. 1800.

Course information last modified: 6 Jan 2022, 08:21