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Joseph Luzzi

Fee Range: $3000 - $5000

Award winning author, teacher and scholar




New Jersey


Joseph Luzzi

Award winning author, teacher and scholar

Joseph Luzzi is an award-winning author, teacher, and scholar. He is Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College, where he also teaches courses on Italian Studies and Film. His awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, NEH Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Dante Society of America Essay Prize. An internationally recognize author, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Italian, German, Portuguese, and Korean.

An active critic and cultural commentator, Luzzi’s essays and reviews appear frequently in the New York Times, Times Literary Supplement, and Chronicle of Higher Education, among many others. His books include In a Dark Wood, a reflection on the power of great literature to help us through our darkest moments, which was a Vanity Fair’s “Must-Read” selection; My Two Italies, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s choice; A Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film, a Finalist for the Book Award “The Bridge,” from the American Initiative For Italian Culture Foundation; and Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy, winner of the Modern Language Association’s Book Prize for Italian Studies.

Luzzi has spoken about the power of literature, Italian culture, and film to audiences all over the world, for organizations including One Day University, the 92nd Street Y, IVY: The Social University, the Dante Society of America, the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, the University of Rome, Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania. He lives with his family in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley.


The Healing Power of Art

How can the great books of the past help us through life’s greatest challenges? How can a beautifully written story provide an indispensable guide to the biggest questions we face? And how can a magnificent writer’s wisdom provide hope and healing when we most need it? Drawing on the experiences I describe in my memoir, In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love, I will explore with you how we can see literature as the greatest means we have for love, relationships, aging, and other defining elements of our personal lives that, I hope to show you, can find breathtaking expression on the written page. 

Four Books Every Book Lover Should Read

What four books are a must for every lover of literature? Award-winning scholar and teacher, Professor Joseph Luzzi will explore this question of the riches of literary expression. He will discuss such renowned classics as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.

Professor Luzzi will show how these fascinating works help us understand some of the most pressing concerns today, including the nature of religious faith, questions of personal identity, even the quest for the American Dream. The audience will be encouraged to develop their own list of “essential reading,” as Professor Luzzi helps them acquire the skills necessary for enriching their encounters with books of all kinds.

From Twain to Toni Morrison: A Literary Journey Through America

What does it mean to be “American”? What are the books that have had the greatest impact on U.S. history and culture? This presentation will lead audiences through the fascinating world of American literature, as it explores how masterpieces ranging from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, and Philip Roth’s American Pastoral reveal the characters and conflicts of the American spirit. 

The Genius of Shakespeare

Where would we be without Shakespeare? The romantic love of the “star-crossed” Romeo and Juliet, the Oedipal complex of the eternally indecisive Hamlet, the “vaulting ambition” (Shakespeare’s phrase) of the tortured Macbeth…all of these characters and so many more are an integral part of our collective memories. Shakespeare’s surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems embedded into the plays themselves. It is indeed impossible to imagine the English language and Western literature without Shakespeare, who many believe to be the greatest writer of all time. However we rank him, one thing is certain: when we read Shakespeare we encounter genius; an inventiveness and intellectual energy that will change our understanding of language—and literature—forever.

A Grand Tour of Italy: Art, Film, Music and Literature

“You may have the universe, if I may have Italy.“ – Giuseppe Verdi

Anyone who is familiar with Italy-its glorious architecture, epic history, exquisite fine arts, and majestic landscape understands Verdi’s passionate words above. For centuries, Italy has been an irresistible magnet for people from all corners of the world, attracting the most illustrious men and women of every age as well as visitors from every walk of life. Today, it remains a very special  mecca —  uplifting, fascinating, and enchanting all who travel there.

But what is behind Italy’s remarkable appeal? What makes this country such an inexhaustible place of discovery, unforgettable to so many? Award-winning author, teacher, and Italian scholar Joseph Luzzi leads participants on a whirlwind tour of Italy’s “greatest cultural hits,” as we explore the fascinating world of Italian art, music, film, architecture, literature, and even food and wine! We will learn how Italy has been a “grand tour” travel destination for centuries as we discover the fine art of living, Italian style.

Oval Office Book Club

How has the reading of our greatest presidents shaped American life as we know it today? In this talk we will explore the books that influenced six of the most powerful men ever to sit in the Oval Office. We will discuss why George Washington was obsessed with a play about a Roman freedom fighter who opposed Julius Caesar; how Thomas Jefferson came to have the largest personal library in the country; what drew Abraham Lincoln to Shakespeare so obsessively (and which Shakespeare play he loved most!); which British poet Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorized as a child and read throughout his life; why John F. Kennedy was devoted to a spy novelist whose books would create one of the greatest film franchises in history; and how Barack Obama came to understand his American identity and spirit through two favorite authors. Together, we will see how presidential action and presidential reading are intimately linked, as we explore the momentous events in these presidents’ lives in light of the books that inspired their thoughts and guided their actions. Professor Luzzi will also summarize his “ALL” (American Library List) detailing the sometimes surprising books and literature which influenced many other U.S. leaders.


To book this speaker please visit or call 508.485.8996