Professor of Italian

Graduate Italian Language Advisor

erao@email.unc.edu | Dey 125

At UNC since 1973


Education

Ph.D., Columbia University, 1975
M.A., Fordham University, 1965
B.A., Fordham University, 1963

Bio

Born in Messina (Italy), Ennio Rao received his B.A. in Classics and Philosophy from Fordham University, where he went on to earn an M.A. in Classical Philology. He also holds an M.Phil. in Greek and Latin and a Ph.D. in Italian from Columbia University. Because of his strong background in the Greek and Latin classics, he was naturally drawn to the study of the fifteenth-century Italian Humanists, Petrarch’s disciples, who launched an energetic cultural and educational program which brought about the strongest revival yet of classical learning, culminating in the Renaissance.

The most compelling influence on his scholarly formation was his mentor, Paul Oskar Kristeller, who stressed the importance of accurate critical editions of the Humanists’ works as the basis for the study of Humanism and the Renaissance. Heeding his call, Rao published a critical edition of Bartolomeo Facio’s invectives against Lorenzo Valla and authored a comprehensive study of the humanistic invectives written between 1352 and 1453.  His interest in Italian linguistics and dialectology has produced two studies in the Sicilian vernacular in general and the language of Castroreale in particular. He is engaged in the study of Epicureanism in 15th-century Italy and the attempt by some Humanists to Christianize the Greek philosopher, and is close to completing a history of Sicilian literature from the 6th century B.C. to the age of Frederick II (Hohenstaufen) (13th century A.D.), encompassing works in Greek, Latin, Arabic, and the Sicilian vernacular.

At the undergraduate level, he teaches Renaissance literature in translation, Italian civilization, and a first-year seminar. At the graduate level he teaches courses and seminars on Humanism and Renaissance, Renaissance theater, Renaissance chivalric literature, Italian dialects, and History of the Italian language.

Publications

  • Castroreale: storia e lingua (Terme Vigliatore: Giambra Editori, 2015)
  • Sicilian Palimpsest (Mineola, NY and Ottawa: Legas, 2009
  • Curmudgeons in High Dudgeon: 101 Years of Invectives (1352-1453) (Messina: EDAS, 2007)
  • Bartolomeo Facio, Invective in Laurentium Vallam. Critical Edition with Introduction. Preface by Paul Oskar Kristeller (Napoli: Societa’ Editrice Napoletana, 1978)

Typical Courses

  • ITAL 830: Italian Renaissance Theater
  • ITAL 751: Italian Renaissance Literature: The Cinquecento
  • ITAL 741: Italian Renaissance Literature: The Quattrocento
  • ITAL 526: History of the Italian Language
  • ITAL 330: Italian Civilization
  • ROML 56: First Year Seminar: Italians in Search of Harmony

Awards & Honors

  • Tanner Teaching Award
  • Certificato di Benemerenza, Citta’ di Castroreale

Recently Directed Dissertations

He has directed dissertations on a variety of topics, such as Veronica Franco; Women’s Correspondence in Early Modern Italy; Luigi Pulci; Giordano Bruno; Ida Baccini; The Poetry of Salvatore Quasimodo, Bartolo Cattafi and Carmelo Aliberti; The Italian American Experience in Literature and Film;  Mafia Motifs in Andrea Camilleri.