Explore In-Person: Italian Identity Myths


Course Details

  • Course Code: ENRICH-0907_ITAL
  • Location: University Park
  • Mode of Study: In-person
  • Places Left: 29
  • Waitlist Places Left: 10
  • Fee: $145
Italian Myths: Art, Food and Crime
Three In-Person Sessions
Mon., Oct. 7, 14, 21, 2024, 6:30-8:30 pm MT

In this series of lively discussions, history professor and author Carol Helstosky offers up the history of three distinct markers of Italian identity: food, art and crime. In the first class, Helstosky puts the focus on the history of food and food habits in Italy, from unification to the present day. Examine origin myths of popular foods like polenta and pizza (Did returning WWII soldiers really make pizza popular in the U.S.? Have pizza chains ruined pizza?). And, does it make sense to refer to Italian food as cuisine? Plus, explore Italians’ culinary creativity when, in the late 1800s to early 1900s, Italy's economy tanked and citizens resorted to some interesting nourishment. In the second class, Helstosky examines the complex history of the market for art and antiquities in 19th and early-20th century Italy, a time of exploding consumer interest in all things Italian. “We seek to better understand public confusion―and sometimes disappointment―over the price, availability and authenticity of works of art and objects from the past,” Helstosky says. She’ll take an unorthodox approach to art forgery, focusing not on art forgery per se, but on the major forgery scandals that shifted the Italian art market in response to constant demand for Italian objects. And finally, in the third class, she traces the history of organized crime in Italy, focusing on the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, often referred to as the Sicilian Mafia, and the Neapolitan Camorra, one of the oldest and largest criminal organizations in Italy. “Myths and legends about these two criminal organizations tell us much about the history of crime, the vagaries of Italian identity and the consequences of globalization,” she says. Come away with a richer understanding of one of Europe’s most colorful and captivating countries.

Carol Helstosky teaches courses in modern European cultural, political and military history at the University of Denver. She is the author of Italian Forgers: the Art Market and the Weight of the Past in Modern Italy (2024); Pizza: A Global History (2008); Food Culture in the Mediterranean (2009); and Garlic and Oil: Food and Politics in Modern Italy (2004). She is editor of The Routledge History of Food (2015) and has authored numerous articles and book chapters on the history of food and culture in modern Italy.


Enrichment Program
University College
University of Denver
2211 S. Josephine St.
Denver, CO 80210
Phone: 303-871-2291

Program contacts:
Lynn Wells, Director

Charles Stillwagon, Program Manager

Phone: 303-871-2291


Quick Links

Enrichment Program Home Page
Registration Policies
Enrichment Brochure
Apply for Scholarship
Sign Up for Enrichment Program Newsletter
University College


Days of the Week Start Date End Date Time Venue Instructor
Monday 07 October 2024 21 October 2024 06:30PM - 08:30PM All Students Carol Helstosky