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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. In 2015 she was elected Accademica Olimpica Corrispondente of the Accademia Olimpica in Vicenza.
From 1997 to 2003, Professor Barolini served as fifteenth president of the Dante Society of America.
Teodolinda 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.
Professor Barolini taught at the University of California at Berkeley from 1978 to 1983 and at New York University from 1983 to 1992. She returned to Columbia University as Chair of the Department of Italian in 1992. She served as Chair from 1992 to 2004, and again from 2011-2014. She was named Lorenzo Da Ponte Professor 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. 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 the Editor in Chief of the Columbia University website Digital Dante (http://digitaldante.columbia.edu), which was relaunched in December 2014. She is the author of the Commento Baroliniano, more than 600 pages of “idiosyncratic and personal” commentary to each canto of the Commedia, particularly committed to an Aristotelian and non-dualist reading of Dante’s poem. See http://digitaldante.columbia.edu/criticism-context/commento-baroliniano/
Barolini has edited three volumes: Medieval Constructions in Gender and Identity: Essays in Honor of Joan Ferrante (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005) and co-edited, with H. Wayne Storey, Dante for the New Millennium (Fordham, 2003), and Petrarch and the Textual Origins of Interpretation (Brill, 2007). The latter volume marks her interest in editorial history, reception, and what she calls “critical philology”, a form of investigation that has marked much of her current work.
She has recently edited a volume of essays on her father, the poet Antonio Barolini:
Antonio Barolini, Cronistoria di un'anima. Atti dei Convegni di New York e di Vicenza. A cura di Teodolinda Barolini. Firenze, Società Editrice Fiorentina, 2015. Pp. 335. €24.00
Barolini addressed many of her interests in the Spring 2008 Italian Studies piece “Historicism, Philology and the Text. An Interview with Teodolinda Barolini.” More recent work can be downloaded from this Columbia University webpage and from academia.edu.
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.
Last updated 01/16
Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture. New York: Fordham University Press, 2006. Pp. 475.
Petrarch and the Textual Origins of Interpretation. Eds. Teodolinda Barolini and H. Wayne Storey. Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition, 31. Leiden: Brill, 2007. Pp. xi+267.
Dante for the New Millennium. Eds. Teodolinda Barolini and H. Wayne Storey. New York: Fordham University Press, 2003. Pp. xxiii+498.
Dante’s Sympathy for the Other, or the Non-Stereotyping Imagination: Sexual and Racialized Others in the Commedia (orig. 2011, pub. 2014 with color images)
Dante and Reality (2013)
Sociology of the Brigata (2012)
The Essential Boccaccio (2010)
Editing Dante’s Rime and Italian Cultural History (2004, rpt. Dante and the Origins)
Medieval Multiculturalism and Dante's Theology of Hell (2000, rpt. Dante and the Origins)
Ulysses, Dante Encyclopedia (2000)
Hell, Dante Encyclopedia (2000)
Dante and Cavalcanti (1998, rpt. Dante and the Origins)
Guittone’s Ora parrà, Dante’s Doglia mi reca, and the Commedia’s Anatomy of Desire (1997, rpt. Dante and the Origins)
Minos’ Tail: The Labor of Devising Hell (1996, rpt. Dante and the Origins)
Forging Anti-Narrative in the Vita Nuova (1994, rpt. Dante and the Origins)
Dante and the Lyric Past (1993, rpt. Dante and the Origins)
Le parole son femmine e i fatti son maschi: Toward a Sexual Poetics of the Decameron (1993, rpt. Dante and the Origins)
Does Dante Hope for Vergil’s Salvation? (1990, rpt. Dante and the Origins)
Dante’s Heaven of the Sun as a Meditation on Narrative (1988, became chapter 9 of The Undivine Comedy)
Re-Presenting What God Presented: The Arachnean Art of the Terrace of Pride (1987, became chapter 6 of The Undivine Comedy)
Arachne, Argus, and St. John: Transgressive Art in Dante and Ovid (1987; rpt. Dante and the Origins)
The Wheel of the Decameron (1983; rpt. Dante and the Origins)
Bertran de Born and Sordello: The Poetry of Politics in Dante’s Comedy (1979; became chapter of Dante’s Poets)