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Population: 58,126,212 (July 2009 est.)

Government: republic; Chief of State: President Giorgio Napolitano (since May 15, 2006); Head of Government: Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (since May 8, 2008)

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Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures


Dennis Looney

Associate professor of Italian and department chair
Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures
Secondary appointment in Department of Classics
office: 412-624-6264
home: 412-343-5011
Faculty bio

For assistance in reaching this Pitt faculty member, contact Patricia Lomando White
office: 412-624-9101
cell: 412-215-9932

Areas of expertise

Renaissance studies, reception of the classical tradition in European literature and culture, vernacular classicism, Dante, Ariosto

Through a Research Abroad Program grant from Pitt's University Honors College and University Center for International Studies, Looney and a team of students are working this summer (2009) on a research project that focuses on the reception of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso in North Italy in the 16th century. Their project includes spending several weeks in libraries in Modena and Ferrara before moving to the town of Mel in the Veneto to study the frescoes (ca. 1545) inspired by Ariosto in Mel’s town hall and to work in the local municipal archives on the origin of the paintings.

Among Looney’s writings are The Quest for Epic: From Ariosto to Tasso, edited by Looney and translated by Looney and Sally Hill, (University of Toronto Press, 2006); Phaethon’s Children: The Este Court and Its Culture in Early Modern Ferrara, coedited with Deanna Shemek (MRTS, 2006); Compromising the Classics: Romance Epic Narrative in the Italian Renaissance (Wayne University Press, 1996); My Muse Will Have a Story to Paint: Selected Prose of Ludovico Ariosto, edited and translated with introduction and notes by Looney, forthcoming from University of Toronto Press in 2010 for Lorenzo da Ponte Italian Library Series; and, submitted to the press, Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy.

department of history of art and architecture

Franklin Toker

Professor of art history, Department of History of Art and Architecture, School of Arts and Sciences
office: 412-648-2419
home: 412-421-7134

For assistance in reaching this faculty member, contact Sharon Blake
office: 412-624-4364
cell: 412-277-6926

Areas of Expertise

Roman and Early Christian archaeology, Gothic and Renaissance architecture

Franklin Toker, professor of art history, has spent decades excavating and studying thousands of artifacts from beneath the magnificent Duomo of Florence—the famous Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. His inspection of the bones, coins, and shards of ceramic and glass unearthed from the ruins revealed sixteen centuries of earlier structures below the Cathedral, concluding with a Roman palace that had been the temporary home of Saint Ambrose of Milan.

In 1980, the College Art Association awarded Toker's Art Bulletin article on the Florence Cathedral the Porter Prize for the best essay on any branch of art. Toker’s four-volume Florence Duomo Project (Harvey Miller/Brepols) has been called the most ambitious American publication on medieval archaeology in decades. The first volume, On Holy Ground: Liturgy, Architecture and Urbanism in the Cathedral and the Streets of Medieval Florence, will be published in October 2009.