Dennis Looney

  • Adjunct Professor of Italian
  • Secondary appointments in the Departments of Classics and Philosophy


1317 H Cathedral of Learning


PhD, Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina (1987)
MA, Sacred Poetics, Boston University (1980)
BA, Classical Greek, Boston University (1978)

Curriculum vitae (PDF)

Research Interests & Fields of study

Renaissance Studies; reception of the classical tradition in European literature and culture; vernacular classicism; Dante; Ariosto; Medievalisms

Selected Teaching

  • Italian Cultural Heritage I: Middle Ages to Renaissance, ITAL 0080
  • Italian Cultural Heritage II: From Early Modern to Contemporary Italy, ITAL 0081
  • Italian Renaissance Literature, ITAL 1082
  • Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, ITAL 1085
  • The Poetics of Dante's Commedia, ITAL 2200
  • From Hell to Harlem: African American Responses to Dante from 1850 to Today, ITAL 2210
  • Ariosto's Orlando Furioso and Vernacular Classicism, ITAL 2320
  • Introduction to the Study of Literature, ITAL 2710/ FR 2710/ GER 2110
  • The Discourse of Science in Italian Literature, ITAL 2750
  • History of the Language, ITAL 2801

Selected Publications


Ariosto, Ludovico. Carmina: Ariosto’s Lyric Poems.  Ed., intro., and trans. Dennis Looney and Mark Possanza.  I Tatti Renaissance Library.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2018. 

Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy, U of Notre Dame Press, Devers Series in Dante Studies, 2011.

'My Muse Will Have a Story to Paint': Selected Prose of Ludovico Ariosto, U Toronto P, Lorenzo da Ponte Italian Library Series, 2010.

Zatti, Sergio. The Quest for Epic: From Ariosto to Tasso. Ed. Dennis Looney. Trans. Sally Hill and Dennis Looney. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2006

Phaethon's Children: The Este Court and Its Culture in Early Modern Ferrara. Co-edited with Deanna Shemek. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies. Tempe: Arizona State UP, 2005.

Compromising the Classics: Romance Epic Narrative in the Italian Renaissance. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1996.


“Ariosto’s Dialogue with Authority in the Erbolato.”  MLN 128.1 (January 2013): 20-39.

DOI: 10.1353/mln.2013.0002  

“The Reception of Herodotus in and around the School of Guarino Veronese.”  Annali Online Lettere VII/1 (2012): 167-83.

“Le postille al codice del volgarizzamento di Erodoto di Matteo Maria Boiardo, Biblioteca Estense, Modena, α.H.3.22.”  In Hérodote à la Renaissance.  Eds. Susanna Gambino Longo and Laurence Boulègue. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2012. 67-85. 

"Dante Abolitionist and Nationalist in the 19th Century: The Case of Cordelia Ray."  In Dante in the Long Nineteenth Century: Nationality, Identity and Appropriation.  Eds. Nick Havely and Aida Audah.  Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012.

"Marvelous Vergil in the Ferrarese Renaissance."  In A Companion to Vergil’s Aeneid and its Tradition (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World).  Eds. Joseph Farrell and Michael C.J. Putnam. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.  158-72.

"The Beginnings of Humanistic Oratory: Petrarch’s Coronation Oration." In Petrarch: A Critical Guide to the Complete Works. Eds. Victoria Kirkham and Armando Maggi. U of Chicago P, 2009. 131-40.

"Epoch-making Letters: Hiram Powers in the Gabinetto Vieusseux." In The Politics of Writing Relations: American Scholars in Italian Archives. Eds. Deanna Shemek and Michael Wyatt. Florence: Olschki, 2008. 139-63.

"'Flame-coloured Letters and Bugaboo Phraseology': Hiram Powers, Frances Trollope and Dante in Frontier Cincinnati." In Hiram Powers a Firenze: Atti del Convegno di studi nel Bicentenario della nascita (1805-2005). Ed. Caterina Del Vivo. Florence: Olschki, 2007. 135-52.

"Il mito di Fetonte ed altri miti luttuosi nel rinascimento ferrarese." In Lucrezia Borgia. Storia e mito. Eds. Michele Bordin and Paolo Trovato. Firenze: Olschki, 2006. 151-61.

"Collodi and Ariosto: Episodic Misadventures in Pinocchio." In Approaches to Teaching Collodi's Pinocchio and Its Adaptations. Ed. Michael Sherberg. NY: MLA, 2006. 34-40.

"Leopardi's Il Copernico and Paradigm Shifts in Art." Annali d'italianistica 23 (2005): 133-46.

"Fragil arte: tradurre e governare nei volgarizzamenti boiardeschi ad Ercole I d'Este." Il Principe e la storia. Eds. S. Matarrese and C. Montagnini. Novara: Interlinea Edizioni, 2005. 117-30.

"Spencer Williams: An African American Filmmaker at the Gates of Hell." In Dante and Cinema. Ed. Amilcare Iannucci. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2004. 129-44

"Ariosto and the Classics." In Ariosto Today. Eds. D. Beecher, M. Ciavolella, and R. Fedi. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2003. 18-31.

Awards and Honors

Ronco Scholarship in 19th-Century Studies, Gladstone’s Library, St. Deiniol’s, Wales, 2012

American Association of Italian Studies, First Prize, Book Award General Category, 2011, for Freedom Readers

ESC/UCIS, Faculty European Grant Competition, U Pittsburgh, 2005, 2010, 2011

Vatican Film Library Mellon Fellowship, St. Louis University, 2011

Central Research Development Fund, U Pittsburgh, 1991, 1994, 2000

FAS Research Grant, U Pittsburgh, 1987, 1988, 2003–04

Research Abroad Program Grant, U Pittsburgh, Summer 2002, 2009

Compromising the Classics, Honorable Mention, Marraro-Scaglione Prize in Italian, 1996-97

President's Distinguished Teaching Award, U Pittsburgh, 1992

NEH Summer Institutes, 1988, 1989, 1990

Professional Service

MLA, Division of Medieval and Renaissance Italian Literature, Executive Committee, 2006-10

Assistant Dean, Humanities, 2004-06

ADFL, Executive Committee, 2002–04; President, 2004

Profession, Editorial Advisory Committee, 2002–03

Chair, Department of French and Italian, 1996-2003; 2006-2010