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Joseph Luzzi

Fee Range: $4000 - $6000

Award winning author, teacher and scholar




New Jersey


Joseph Luzzi

Award winning author, teacher and scholar

Joseph Luzzi is an award-winning author and widely sought after speaker whose recent books include My Two Italies, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, History, and the Mysteries of Love, a Vanity Fair “Must-Read” selection that has been translated into Italian, German, and Korean. He received his PhD from Yale and is Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College. Luzzi’s honors and awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, Dante Society of America Essay Prize, and fellowships at the National Humanities Center and Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. 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. Recent speaking engagements include 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 University, Cambridge University, and Villa Il Palmerino in Florence, Italy.



  1. The Presidential Library: Books That Shaped Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Others

In this new brand new presentation, award-winning Literature Professor Joseph Luzzi will guide audiences through a fascinating “Presidents’ Library,” as we explore the books that shaped 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. 


  1.  Timeless Lessons from Classic Books

What can business leaders today learn from some of the greatest books ever written? Why have world-changing entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Peter Thiel passionately turned to literature for their groundbreaking innovations? In this unique first presentation, Joseph Luzzi, winner of the Yale College Teaching Prize and New York Times “Editors’ Choice” author, shows how literature can provide “case studies” for effective leadership, idea generation, conflict resolution, and better understanding of commercial cultures. His “10 Commandments” for the world of business will analyze how history’s premier minds, from Dante and Machiavelli to Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Nietzsche, can spark essential entrepreneurial insights for our global marketplace. 


  1. Five Books That Changed the World 

What books are a must for every lover of literature? Award-winning scholar, teacher, and New York Times “Editors’ Choice” author Professor Joseph Luzzi will explore this question with participants in an intimate seminar devoted to exploring the riches of literary expression. We 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—as well as a few other literary surprises. 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. Participants 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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 we explore 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.


  1. A Tale of Two Renaissance Men: Steve Jobs and Leonardo Da Vinci 

In two recently acclaimed biographies, Walter Isaacson pointed out the parallels between the towering geniuses of Renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Jobs. In this talk, winner of the Yale College Teaching Award and New York Times “Editors’ Choice” author Joseph Luzzi explores in depth the fascinating connections between these two world-changers separated by centuries but linked by common creative and intellectual qualities. Luzzi will show what Renaissance typographer inspired Steve Jobs to create Apple’s legendary interface, and how like Leonardo he sought to combine many fields and disciplines—from architecture and design to art and literature—in creating what is now the world’s largest and most profitable company in world history. 


  1. 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 described in his memoir In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love, Joseph Luzzi (New York Times Editors’ Choice” author) will explore how we can see literature as the greatest means we have for love, relationships, aging, and other defining elements of our personal lives that, he will propose, can find breathtaking expression on the written page. 


  1. 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.

  1. A History of American Literature in Four Heroines

In this fascinating new presentation, award-winning Literature Professor Joseph Luzzi takes you on a tour of the most important women characters in American history. Beginning with Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter and Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind and continuing with Scout Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Beloved in Toni Morrison’s novel by that same name, Professor Luzzi will show how some of the most crucial moments in American history—the rise of women’s rights, the crushing legacy of slavery, the struggle for equality, and the quest for the American Dream—can all be traced to these four unforgettable heroines. As part of our conversation, Professor Luzzi will also summarize his “AWL,” “All-American Women’s Library, a list of the key books that have shaped women and their destinies throughout our nation’s history.


  1. The First Ladies Book Club: Books That Shaped Jackie O, Eleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, and the Women Who Transformed American Politics

The reading habits of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and other transformative presidents have long been on the radar of historians and enthusiasts of presidential history. But what about the women who occupied the White House with these men—and in some cases left their indelible mark on the presidency, event changing the course of American history?

In this new brand new presentation, award-winning Literature Professor Joseph Luzzi will guide audiences through a remarkable “First Ladies Book Club,” as we explore the books that shaped some of the most influential women in the history of the Oval Office. We will discuss how Jacqueline Kennedy left a promising career in publishing to join her husband in the White House—and how her devotion to books remained a lifelong constant, even influencing what her husband read; what books fueled Eleanor Roosevelt’s passionate interest in peace and human rights, making her into one of the world’s most important humanitarians; and why a love of literature was so essential to Abigail Adams in her promotion of women’s rights and their central place in U.S. government. We will also see how the office of the First Lady was essential to the creation of the first permanent White House Library in 1850, and why the influence of First Ladies (especially through the books they read) led to some of the most important policy decisions in American history. Professor Luzzi will also summarize his “FLL” (First Lady Library), detailing the sometimes surprising books and literature of these extraordinary women.


  1. Are Books Obsolete? The Future of Reading in the Internet Age

In this brand new presentation, award-winning Literature Professor Joseph Luzzi explores one of the most intriguing questions Americans face today: are books, the act of reading itself, becoming “yesterday’s news”? Studies show that Americans consume three hours of social media a day, compared to the nineteen minutes they read daily. Meanwhile, our kids read only eight minutes a day while averaging a full hour playing video games, and last year one in four Americans did not read a single book, a three hundred percent increase in illiteracy from thirty years ago. What are the technological changes that are relegating reading and books to the margins? How are “images” and “media” replacing “classics” and “great books”? And what, if any, is the place of great literature in the 21st century and beyond? Professor Luzzi will explore all these questions and more as together we confront the fascinating question of what our children and grandchildren will (and will not) be reading in the cultural revolution sparked by the Internet Age.




To book this speaker please visit or call 508.485.8996