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Joseph Luzzi is a Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College. He holds a PhD in Italian Literature from Yale University.

He is the author of five books, including My Two Italies (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014), a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing & the Mysteries of Love (HarperCollins, 2015), a Vanity Fair “Must-Read” selection that has been translated into Italian, German, and Korean. His writings on film include the books A Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2014), which was a finalist for The Bridge Book Award; and his edited anthology Italian Cinema: From the Silent Screen to the Digital Image (Bloomsbury, 2019).

An active critic, his work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Chronicle of Higher Education, Times Literary Supplement, and many others. His media appearances include a profile in London’s Guardian and interview on National Public Radio. He received the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association for the book Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy (Yale Univ. Press, 2008).


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Memoirs With A Mystery

What are some recent memoirs that not only tell a poignant life story, but also remind us of the “mystery” of some of the most complicated and consequential questions we face? How have writers from many different parts of the world and from many varying points of view described those common human elements – love, death, a sense of calling, the devotion to a cause – that for so many of us represent a defining part of existence?

In this course Professor Joseph Luzzi, himself a memoirist as well as a Professor of Comparative Literature, will explore a range of “life narratives” that remind us why the first-person insights of the memoir and the autobiographical genre have long been a staple of the literary tradition and that have attracted devoted readers across the centuries and throughout the globe.

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Five Came Back:
Classic American Cinema After World War II

We live in an era with a female Vice President and Speaker of the House; where women chair four Senate committees. But for much of the last century, the Office of the First Lady housed the highest-profile women in American politics. Though the position doesn’t exist in the Constitution, the term has been widely used since the late 19th century. This seminar will explore the growth of the office by examining the lives of the most significant First Ladies, while also examining how the office has changed over time. While focusing on the Office of the First Lady, each session also will include commentary on the growing political power of women in the period under discussion.