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Jo Ann Cavallo

514 Hamilton Hall
1130 Amsterdam Avenue, Mail Code: 2835
New York , NY 10027

work: +1 212-854-4982
fax: +1 212-854-5306


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Jo Ann Cavallo
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Columbia University




Douglass College/Rutgers (B.A., triple major in Italian, Spanish, and French, 1981);

Università di Firenze, Università di Perugia, Italy (academic year 1979-80);

Universidad de Valencia, Spain (summer 1980);

Institut d'Études Françaises d'Avignon, France (summer 1982);

Yale University (M.A., 1984; Ph.D., 1987).


Following a year at the University of Washington in Seattle, Professor Cavallo has been on the faculty of Columbia's Department of Italian since 1988. Her field of specialization is the Renaissance romance epic (primarily Boiardo, Ariosto, and Tasso). Other courses she has taught in the department include Petrarch and Boccaccio, fifteenth century civic humanism and Neoplatonism, Machiavelli, Castiglione, the history of the Italian language, Italian cinema, allegorical literature, political literature, and forgotten best-sellers of the Renaissance. In 1995 she founded the Columbia University Summer Program in Scandiano, which she directed for seven consecutive years. She has taught Literature Humanities regularly since 1993 and more recently has team-taught the two-semester interdisciplinary colloquium "Nobility and Civility."


Professor Cavallo's most recent book, The World beyond Europe in the Romance Epics of Boiardo and Ariosto (University of Toronto Press, 2013), received the 2011 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies.  She is also the author of Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato: An Ethics of Desire (Associated University Presses, 1993), The Romance Epics of Boiardo, Ariosto, and Tasso: From Public Duty to Private Pleasure (University of Toronto Press, 2004), and co-editor of Fortune and Romance: Boiardo in America (MRTS, 1998).  Her articles focus on early Christian and gnostic literature (the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Truth),  Italian authors from the medieval to the modern period (Dante, Petrarch, Boiardo, Ariosto, Castiglione, Machiavelli, Tasso, Giordano Bruno, and Elsa Morante), and folk traditions that dramatize epic narratives (Sicilian puppet theater and the epic Maggio of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines). In 2002, she filmed and edited a full-length documentary about the epic Maggio tradition, Il maggio emiliano: ricordi, riflessioni, brani (DVD, 2003).  She has served as the Italian literature editor of The Literary Encyclopedia ( since 2008. Her current project is a co-edited volume of essays entitled "Speaking Truth to Power in Medieval and Early Modern Italy" scheduled to be published as a special issue of Annali d'Italianistica in 2017.   

Creative projects:

Professor Cavallo has adapted several episodes from Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato into comedies that have been performed in various regions of Italy (2000-2006), and in English translation in New York City (Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon Park, September 2003; Central Park's Naumburg Bandshell, July 15-17, 2006).She has also written a bilingual young readers' version of Boiardo’s poem, Orlando Innamorato per ragazzi (2001), and collaborated on scripts for the Emilian epic Maggio and Sicilian puppet theater.

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