Profile

Teodolinda Barolini is the 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.

Barolini received her B.A. in Classics in 1972 from Sarah Lawrence College, her M.A. in Italian in 1973 from Columbia University, and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 1978 from Columbia University.

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.

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, 2012) explores the origins of Italian literary culture through four prisms: “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 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4lfPpRMEj0).The first volume of Barolini’s commentary to Dante’s lyric poetry, Rime giovanili e della ‘Vita Nuova’ (Lyrics of Youth and of the Vita Nuova) came out with Rizzoli in 2009(http://www.bur.eu/libri/rime-2/). This commentary reconstructs Dante’s poetic and ideological itinerary from its courtly beginnings to the Paradiso. The expanded and revised English edition, which won the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award of the Modern Language Association for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies in 2012, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2014.

Barolini is currently writing volume 2 of her commentary to Dante’s lyrics for the Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli. Ongoing projects also include books on Petrarch as a metaphysical poet. See publications section for full listing, and for pdfs of selected recent essays.