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Teodolinda Barolini

Da Ponte Professor of Italian
510 Hamilton Hall
1130 Amsterdam Avenue, Mail Code: 2832
New York , NY 10027

work: +1 212-854-2312
fax: +1 212-854-5306


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Teodolinda Barolini
Da Ponte Professor of Italian
Columbia University



Teodolinda Barolini is Lorenzo Da Ponte Professor of Italian at Columbia University. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Medieval Academy of America. From 1997 to 2003, Professor Barolini served as fifteenth president of the Dante Society of America.

Teodolinda Barolini received her B.A. in classics in 1972 from Sarah Lawrence College and her M.A. in Italian and Ph.D. in comparative literature from Columbia in 1973 and 1978. Professor Barolini taught at the University of California at Berkeley and New York University before returning to Columbia University in 1992 as Chair of the Department of Italian, serving in that capacity until 2004. She was named Lorenzo Da Ponte Professor in 1999.

Barolini's research focuses on thirteenth- and fourteenth- century Italian literary culture, its relation to classical antiquity, and its reception through the centuries to our own day. She has written widely on Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, and the medieval lyric. Her first book Dante's Poets: Textuality and Truth in the 'Comedy' (Princeton, 1984; Italian trans. Il miglior fabbro: Dante e i poeti della "Commedia," Bollati Boringhieri, 1993), won the Marraro Prize of the Modern Language Association and the John Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy. The Undivine Comedy: Detheologizing Dante (Princeton, 1992; Italian trans. La Commedia senza Dio: Dante e la creazione di una realtà virtuale, Feltrinelli, 2003) looks at how Dante constructs a virtual reality in language in the light of his repeated truth claims, and sets out a method of reading - "detheologizing"- that counteracts the narrative structures that work to overdetermine our hermeneutic response to the poem. Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture (Fordham, 2006; Italian trans. Bompiani, forthcoming) explores the origins of Italian literary culture through four prisms: "A Philosophy of Desire"; "Christian and Pagan Intertexts"; "Ordering the Macrotext: Time and Narrative"; and "Gender." This volume won the Premio Flaiano in italianistica in 2007 (

The first volume of Barolini's commentary to Dante's lyrics, Rime giovanili e della 'Vita Nuova' (Lyrics of Youth and of the Vita Nuova) came out with Rizzoli in 2009 ( This commentary reconstructs Dante's poetic  and ideological itinerary from its courtly beginnings to the Paradiso.

The last of these categories, "Gender," has become increasingly prominent in Barolini's work since the publication of "Dante and Francesca da Rimini: Realpolitik, Romance, Gender" (Speculum, 2000); she gave the keynote speech, "Toward a Gendered History of Italian Literature" (excerpted in the Italian newspaper la Repubblica on February 8, 2008), at the New York University conference of the same name. On April 15, 2008, Barolini gave the University Lecture: "Dante: Multiplicities of History, Identities of Belief" (See http://www.universityprograms. When published, the title will be "Dante's Sympathy for the Other, or the Non-Stereotyping Imagination: Sexual and Racialized Others in the Commedia."

Barolini has edited three volumes: Medieval Constructions in Gender and Identity: Essays in Honor of Joan Ferrante (ACMRS, 2005) and co-edited, with H. Wayne Storey, Dante for the New Millennium (Fordham, 2003), and Petrarch and the Textual Origins of Interpretation (Brill, 2007). The latter volume marks her interest in editorial history, reception, and "the crossroads of hermeneutics and philology."

She addresses all her interests in the Spring 2008 Italian Studies piece "Historicism, Philology and the Text. An Interview with Teodolinda Barolini."

Barolini is currently working to rehistoricize the Divine Comedy (possible once we have detheologized), as well as to write volume II of her commentary to Dante's lyrics for the Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli. Ongoing projects also include books on Petrarch as a metaphysical poet and a gendered history of early Italian literature. See publications section for full listing.

Last updated 08/09

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