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Laura Benedetti


Professor and Chair
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 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 has been Chair of the Italian Department since 2009. She is the founder and director of the Georgetown University L’Aquila Summer Program, that combines intensive language studies with a variety of initiatives (such private lectures, film screenings, guided tours, cooking lessons and wine tastings) that enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of Italian culture (see After the April 6, 2009 earthquake that devastated the town of L’Aquila, the program relocated to Rome.

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. Professor Benedetti’s last book is the 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. This 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.

The subjects of Laura Benedetti's articles 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). Laura Benedetti also contributed for ten years--from 2000 to 2009--the piece on Italian literature to the annual update of the Encyclopedia Britannica.


  • 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)