Romance Languages and Literatures

Rocco Rubini

Associate Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures, Theater and Performance Studies, and the College; Italian Graduate Adviser; Director of Graduate Studies


Wieboldt 118

Office Hours: 

Th 11:00-12:00

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PhD in Comparative Literature and Renaissance Studies, Yale University, 2009

MA in Comparative Literature and Renaissance Studies, Yale University, 2006

BA (Summa cum laude) in Comparative Literature, New York University, 2002

Program(s): Italian Studies

Rocco Rubini joined the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago upon completing his Ph.D in Comparative Literature and Renaissance studies at Yale University in 2009. His studies and early career were supported by a Baden-Württemberg Exchange Scholarship (2005-2006) and a Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities (2008-2009), both resulting in year-long stays in Germany, and, at the University of Chicago, a Franke Institute for the Humanities Fellowship (2011-2012) that allowed him to complete his first book, The Other Renaissance: Italian Humanism between Hegel and Heidegger (Chicago, 2014). This study is an intellectual history that seeks to re-evaluate the received narrative regarding the making of so-called Continental philosophy and its transformation into “theory” between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It explores modern Italian philosophy (1801-1947) through the lens of Renaissance scholarship and argues for a strong intellectual connection and solidarity between Italian Renaissance humanists and Italian nineteenth- and twentieth-century thinkers. In doing so it complicates our relationship to the origins of modernity and reveals the Italian intellectual tradition as a useful supplement to our modern and postmodern consciousness.

The Other Renaissance was awarded the American Association of Italian Studies Book Prize and the Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the Best Book in Intellectual History (by the Journal of the History of Ideas). Selected reviews: Renaissance and Reformation 38.3 (2015); Review of Metaphysics 69.2 (2015); Quaderni d’Italianistica 36.2 (2016); Annali d’italianistica 34 (2016); Forum Italicum 50.3 (2016); Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 37.2 (2016).

In collaboration with a group of graduate students in the Italian program, Rubini edited a companion volume of primary sources – The Renaissance from an Italian Perspective: An Anthology of Essays, 1860-1968 (Longo, 2014) – which includes never before translated texts by, among others, Bertrando Spaventa, Francesco De Sanctis, Benedetto Croce, Giovanni Gentile, Eugenio Garin, and Ernesto Grassi. 

Rubini’s current book-length project, tentatively titled The Literary Corpus: Addressing Posterity in Italian Intellectual (Auto)biography, extends and obversely complements his research program, leveraging the Italian intellectual tradition for a requalification of “humanism.” This humanism would look more like a living intellectual tradition, hewing more closely to its Renaissance archetype while moving freely through history and into our own times. Furthermore, this study examines how certain early modern figures envisioned their literary afterlives and, as it were, predisposed their work for retrieval. It investigates the interplay of creation and reception that constitutes the dialectic of “tradition”: the practice of retrieving and conserving, as well as the practice of revivifying hoary themes, institutions, and values that do not translate without adaptation. The study includes discrete chapters on Petrarch, Giambattista Vico and Carlo Goldoni, Giuseppe Ferrari and Jules Michelet, Francesco De Sanctis, and Benedetto Croce and Antonio Gramsci.

Rubini’s teaching and research interests include the history of Italian theater (especially comedy between Commedia dell’Arte and Goldoni) autobiography, philology, Vico and his reception, political theory from Machiavelli to Gramsci and, more generally, the idiosyncratic contribution of Italian thought to the making and unmaking of modernity.

Selected Articles

“Petrarchan Hermeneutics between (and beyond) Gadamer and Betti ,” In I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance. Forthcoming 2017

“A ‘Crisis’ in the Making’: The Hans Baron - P.O. Kristeller Correspondence (1932-1988),” The European Legacy 21:3 (2016), 266-89.

“The Vichian ‘Renaissance’ between Giuseppe Ferrari and Jules Michelet.” Intellectual History Review 26:1 (2016), 9-15.

“How Did We Come to Be Such as We Are and Not Otherwise? Petrarch, Humanism, and the History of Philosophy.” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 33:2 (2012), 403-36.

“Struever’s Rhetoric as Inquiry.” Review Article of Nancy S. Struever, Rhetoric, Modality, Modernity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009); and Nancy S. Struever, The History of Rhetoric and the Rhetoric of History (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009). Philosophy and Rhetoric 45:1(2012), 89-98.

“Humanism Is an Existentialism: Renaissance and Vichian Legacies in Italian Philosophy between Hegel and Heidegger,” in Italian Critical Theory, Annali d’italianistica 29 (2011), 431-58.

“The Last Italian Philosopher: Eugenio Garin (with an Appendix of Documents),” Review Article of Eugenio Garin, Interpretazioni del Rinascimento, edited by Michele Ciliberto, 2 vols. (Roma: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2009); and Eugenio Garin, History of Italian Philosophy, edited and translated by Giorgio Pinton, 2 vols. (Amsterdam-New York: Editions Rodopi, 2008). Intellectual History Review 21:2 (2011), 209-30.

“Humanism as Philosophia (Perennis): Grassi’s Platonic Rhetoric between Gadamer and Kristeller,” Philosophy and Rhetoric 42:3 (2009), 242-78.

“Philology as Philosophy: The Sources of Ernesto Grassi’s Postmodern Humanism,” in Humanisms, Posthumanisms, and Neohumanisms, Annali d’italianistica 26 (2008), 223-48.


Selected Recent Courses

Vichianism: The Italian (Counter-) Enlightenment
Philology as a Way of Life: Humanism and the Classics
Italian Comic Theatre: Ariosto to Goldoni
Italian Renaissance Humanism
Vico’s New Science
The Literary Republic of Italy: Spaventa, De Sanctis, Croce, Gentile
The Worlds of Harlequin: Commedia dell’Arte
Machiavelli and Machiavellism
Philosophical Petrarchism