Joseph Luzzi
Book Speaker
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Joseph Luzzi

Fee Range1: $ 5000 - $7500

Award winning author, teacher and scholar




New York


Joseph Luzzi

Joseph LuzziAward 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.


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.  

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. 

The Story of America in Seven Books

In 1869, as our nation was recovering from the devastations of the Civil War, the critic John William DeForest described the quest for “the Great American Novel,” suggesting how difficult it was to capture the complexity and diversity of the American experience in a single book. The past century and a half has seen many remarkable attempts by a wide range of authors to meet this challenge and distill the essence of U.S. history into the pages of unforgettable writing. In this presentation, seven books that best represent this quest to tell the American story will be explored.  The talk addresses such questions as: What does it mean to be “American”? What are the books that have had the greatest impact on U.S. history and culture? How can fiction illuminate the hard truths of American life? This presentation will lead audiences through the fascinating world of American literature, exploring 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, and more, reveal the characters and conflicts of the American spirit.

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.

The Reader’s Edge: The 7 Principles of Great Literature that Lead to Happier, Healthier, and More Productive Lives

Why do readers earn considerably more money than non-readers over their lifetime? How can reading improve brain health, reduce stress, increase empathy, deepen sleep cycles, and strengthen memory? How can classic authors from Dante and Shakespeare to Toni Morrison and Philip Roth provide lessons in leadership, decision-making, and ethics that lead to long-term success at work and in your career? And why are reading skills so essential in the new Internet-dominated world? Based on his 30 years of teaching and research, Literature Professor Joseph Luzzi, a winner of the Yale College Teaching Prize and a New York Times “Editors’ Choice” author, will reveal his “7 Principles” of effective reading that can lead to happier, healthier, and more productive lives.

The Power of Literature

As we’ve seen increased participation in online dance parties, workouts and other gatherings a little mentioned growing community is that of reading groups. As the pandemic deepens and all of us feel the desire to escape, it is logical that these communities would expand. But what is it about literature that brings people together during terrible circumstances? How does a catastrophe shape our understanding of the power of great literature?



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