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Before joining the Department of Italian at Columbia University, where he became the Giuseppe Ungaretti Professor in Italian Literature in 2005, Paolo Valesio retired as an emeritus professor from Yale University, where he taught for more than a quarter century, and where for most of this period he was Chair of the Italian Department. Prior to that he taught at New York University, after having studied general linguistics and literature at Bologna University and Harvard University. He has been a Fellow of the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan University, a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, and a Fellow of the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University. He has also been honorary president of the American Association of Italian Studies.
The author of numerous critical essays and articles, Valesio has published five books of criticism, fourteen collections of poetry, two novels, one collection of short stories, a novella, and a drama in verse which has been staged in Italy.
Paolo Valesio has founded and coordinated from 1993 to 2004 the "Yale Poetry Group." He collaborates with several Italian and American critical journals, as well as Italian magazines and newspapers. He founded and directed the journal Yale Italian Poetry (YIP) which will now be published at Columbia University and the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University with a new title, Italian Poetry Review.
Paolo Valesio's areas of teaching and research include the literature of the 19th and 20th century, rhetoric in its connection with literary analysis and with spirituality, as well as comparative approaches to contemporary Italian literature, and the theory and practice of creative writing.