Teodolinda Barolini

Da Ponte Professor of Italian

Columbia University

Teodolinda Barolini is Lorenzo Da Ponte Professor of Italian at Columbia University. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2001), the American Philosophical Society (2002), and the Medieval Academy of America (2000).

Elected foreign member of the Accademia Olimpica (Vicenza) in 2015, in 2018 Professor Barolini was elected to Italy’s National Academy, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.

From 1997 to 2003, Professor Barolini served as fifteenth President of the Dante Society of America.

Teodolinda Barolini received her B.A. in Classics from Sarah Lawrence College in 1972, her M.A. in Italian from Columbia University in 1973, and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University in 1978. She began her career as Assistant Professor of Italian at the University of California at Berkeley in 1978. She subsequently moved to New York University, where she taught from 1983 to 1992. She returned to Columbia University as Chair of the Department of Italian in 1992, serving as Chair from 1992 to 2004 and again from 2011-2014. She was named Lorenzo Da Ponte Professor of Italian in 1999.

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. LaCommedia senza Dio: Dante e la creazione di una realtà virtuale, Feltrinelli, 2003) examines how Dante goes about constructing a virtual reality in language. Barolini 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. Il secolo di Dante, 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).

Barolini’s commentary to Dante’s early lyric poetry, Rime giovanili e della ‘Vita Nuova’, was published by 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. Her expanded and revised English edition, with translations of Dante’s poetry by Richard Lansing, Dante’s Lyric Poetry: Lyrics of Youth and of the ‘Vita Nuova’, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2014. It was awarded the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award of the Modern Language Association for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies in 2012.

Editor of the website Digital Dante (https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/), Barolini is also the author of the Commento Baroliniano, the first digital commentary to the Commedia: https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/

Edited books include Medieval Constructions in Gender and Identity: Essays in Honor of Joan Ferrante (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005). With H. Wayne Storey she has co-edited two volumes: Dante for the New Millennium (Fordham, 2003), and Petrarch and the Textual Origins of Interpretation (Brill, 2007). With Maria Luisa Ardizzone she has co-edited Vita nuova: Archeologie di un testo (Studj Romanzi 2018).

Professor Barolini has also edited and contributed to a volume of essays on her father: Antonio Barolini, Cronistoria di un'anima. Atti dei Convegni di New York e di Vicenza(Società Editrice Fiorentina, 2015). With her sister, Susanna Barolini, she has edited and annotated the editorials and diary that her father wrote during World War II. The volume Antonio Barolini, poeta nonviolento. Diario di clandestinità ed editoriali vicentini (1943-1945) will be published by Neri Pozza Editori.

Ongoing is The Global Dante Project of New York, in collaboration with Professor Maria Luisa Ardizzone of New York University and featuring a yearly conference on a work of Dante’s. Beginning with the Monarchia in 2015 and proceeding through the Vita nuova (2016), De vulgari eloquentia (2017), and Convivio (2018), the Project will culminate with a conference on the Commedia in Dante’s centennial year of 2021.

Barolini’s work can be downloaded from this Columbia University webpa