Laura Benedetti


Laura and Gaetano De Sole Professor in Contemporary Italian Culture


Department of Italian
General profile




After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Rome "La Sapienza" with a thesis on Luigi Pirandello, Laura Benedetti moved to the University of Alberta, where sub-freezing temperatures helped her concentrate on the theme of the garden in Renaissance chivalric poem, which happened to be the topic of her M.A. thesis. From then on, her interests in Renaissance and contemporary culture have fostered each other, leading to a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University and to eight years as a junior faculty at Harvard University, where she became the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities. She joined the Georgetown University’s Italian Department in 2002, as the first Laura and Gaetano De Sole Professor of Contemporary Italian Culture, and served as Department Chair from 2009 to 2015, as well as director of the L’Aquila Community Based Learning Summer Program, which combines advanced language and culture learning and volunteer work. She is currently Book Review Editor and Associate Editor of "Italian Culture," the official journal of the American Association of Italian Studies.

Professor Benedetti’s publications include a monograph on Torquato Tasso ("La sconfitta di Diana. Un percorso per la «Gerusalemme liberata»", 1997), the proceedings of two conferences ("Gendered Contexts: New Perspectives in Italian Cultural Studies", 1996, in collaboration with Julia Hairston and Silvia Ross), and the edition of a Renaissance treatise (Giraldi Cinzio’s "Discorso dei romanzi", 1999, in collaboration with Enrico Musacchio and Giuseppe Monorchio). Published in 2007, her volume "The Tigress in the Snow: Motherhood and Literature in 20th-Century Italy" (winner of the 2008 Flaiano International Prize for Italian Studies) analyzes the evolving notion of motherhood in 20th-century Italy, as reflected in and shaped by literature. Her 2012 translation of Lucrezia Marinella’s "Esortazioni alle donne e agli altri se a loro saranno a grado" (Exhortations to Women and to Others if They Please), complete with an introduction and over five hundred notes, is the first modern edition of Lucrezia Marinella’s important and very rare work, which has survived in only three copies and had never been republished after its first edition in 1645. In 2015, Laura Benedetti published her first novel, "Un paese di carta," that traces the story of three generations of women between Italy and the U.S.

Laura Benedetti is also the author of over sixty articles that span 700 years, from Boccaccio to the most recent narrative production, and deal with topics as diverse as the fictional treatment of historical figures ("Reconstructing Artemisia: Twentieth-Century Images of a Woman Artist"; "L'amante di Orazio impazzì per Eleonora: avventure e sventure del personaggio Tasso attraverso i secoli"), intertextuality in the Renaissance ("Virtú femminile o virtú donnesca? Torquato Tasso, Lucrezia Marinella ed una polemica rinascimentale"; "Atlante, o i paradossi dell’amore", "La «vis abdita» della «Liberata» e i suoi esiti nella «Conquistata»", "Giardini di piacere e di pericolo"), and the representation of women ("I silenzi di Alatiel", "Vivere o essere vissuti: Amalia in Svevo’s «Senilità»"), as well as issues of narrative strategies and construction ("I riflessi di sé nelle storie degli altri: su alcuni sdoppiamenti sveviani"). From 2000 to 2009, Laura Benedetti authored the entry on Italian literature for the "Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year." She has been a guest on the RAI (Italian Public Television) and The Diane Rehm Show.

Laura Benedetti is the recipient of the Flaiano International Prize (2008), the “Wise Woman” award from the National Organization of Italian American Women (2014) and the Gold Medal from the Federazione Associazioni Abruzzesi U.S.A. (2015). She has been invited as Guest of Honor by the Women's Caucus of the American Association of Italian Studies (2016).


  • Ph.D. (1992) Johns Hopkins University,
  • M.A. (1988) University of Alberta,
  • Laurea in Lettere (1986) Università "La Sapienza" (Rome),


  • French (speak, read, write)
  • Italian (speak, read, write)
  • Latin (read)
  • Spanish (read)