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Rachel Love

  • Visiting Assistant Professor in Italian


  • PhD, Italian Studies, New York University
  • MA, Italian Studies, New York University
  • BA, English Literature and International Relations, Smith College

Rachel Love’s research engages with Italian cultural history, media, and politics, with an increasing focus on transnational networks of exchange. 

Her current book project, Songbook for a Revolution: Popular Culture and the New Left in 1960s Italy, analyzes how an Italian leftist music collective, the Nuovo Canzoniere Italiano (NCI), used folk music and radical performance to create the soundtrack of 1968. Through over 160 recorded albums and disruptive live shows like Bella ciao at the 1964 Spoleto Festival, the NCI argued that oral histories and lower-class voices offered a radical form of cultural and political expression. This critical history also evaluates the wider tensions of this pivotal historical period, including the splintering of traditional political parties, the proliferation of student and worker movements, and the rise of mass culture and television. Using original interviews with NCI members, it explores how grief of personal loss intertwines with grief of a revolution manqué.

Love has also published articles on folk music as transatlantic exchange and the anti-fascist and anti-colonialist organizing of Giovanni Pirelli in the journals Popular Music, Modern Italy, and Interventions.

Her next book project, Black Power and the Italian Radical Left, traces how Black American movements provided a rich source of inspiration for Italian leftists in the 1960s and 1970s and questions to what extent Italian leftists identified their domestic political struggles with those of anti-colonial and anti-racist activists abroad. Through an examination of documentary films, recorded albums, and the translation of works by Black activists, it explores the potential and limits of these cross-border solidarities. 

Love’s most recent research extends into gender and sexuality studies. Before coming to Pitt, she collaborated as a Research Fellow at the University of St. Andrews on a project about transnational AIDS activism in western Europe in the 1980s and 1990s. Using oral history interviews and archival media, she examined how queer communities harnessed the international circulation of AIDS-related information to produce a counterdiscourse, in Italian translation, that confronted both the virus and its related stigmas. In addition to her forthcoming publications from this project, she co-created the project’s oral history database and comic book.

“Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Canzoniere italiano and the People without History,” California Italian Studies (accepted for publication in Volume 12, 2023).

“Il Nuovo Canzoniere Italiano, The Songbook of 1968 in Italy,” Forum for Modern Language Studies Special Issue: Reviewing 1968: The Wider Lenses of the Cultural Review (accepted for July 2023 publication).

“Talking Italian Blues: Roberto Leydi, Giovanna Marini, and American Influence in the Italian Folk Revival, 1954-1966.” Popular Music 38.2 (2019): 317-334.

“A Fragmented Transformation: Giovanni Pirelli’s War Writings, 1940-1944.” Modern Italy 21.3 (2016): 261-272.

“Anti-Fascism, Anticolonialism and Anti-Self: The Life of Giovanni Pirelli and the Work of the Centro Frantz Fanon.” Interventions 17.3 (2015): 343-359.


Research Interests

Contemporary Italian Cultural Studies; Italian Media and Film in the 20th century; Transnational Studies; Performance and Popular Music Studies; Oral History