Dennis Looney

  • Adjunct Professor, Department of French and Italian
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Classics


1317H Cathedral of Learning

Dennis Looney is Adjunct Professor in the Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures and an affiliate of the Department of Classics. 

For several summers in the mid-1980s, he taught in the Intensive Latin/Greek Institute at the City University of New York. He has received National Endowment for the Humanities grants for summer study. 

His general interest is in history of the classical tradition, with a particular focus on the connection between classical writings and the vernacular literature of medieval and Renaissance Italy. He has published articles on Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto, and Tasso, and a book on the reception of the classics in Ferrara from 1450-1600, Compromising the Classics: Romance Epic Narrative in the Italian Renaissance (Wayne State UP, 1996). His book was nominated the finalist for the Modern Language Association's Marraro Award for best book in Italian Studies, 1996-1998.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1987
  • M.A., Sacred Poetics, Boston University, 1980
  • B.A. (magna cum laude), Classical Greek, Boston University, 1978
  • University of Florence, Italy, with Middlebury College, 1975-6


  • James E. Alatis Founder’s Award, Joint National Committee for Languages, 2022
  • Ronco Scholarship, Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden, Wales, 2012
  • American Association of Italian Studies, First Prize, Book Award General Category, 2011, for Freedom Readers
  • Vatican Film Library Mellon Fellowship, St. Louis University, 2011
  • Compromising the Classics, honorable mention, MLA Marraro-Scaglione Prize, 1996-97
  • University of Pittsburgh’s nominee for Carnegie Foundation’s Professor of the Year, 1994; 1995
  • President's Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Pittsburgh, 1992
  • Rome Prize Fellowship, American Academy in Rome, 1990-91 (first alternate)
  • NEH Summer Institute on Ariosto and Tasso, Northwestern University, 1990
  • NEH Summer Institute on Petrarch and Petrarchism, Yale University, 1989
  • NEH Summer Seminar on Italian Archival Sciences, Newberry Library, 1988
  • Werner P. Friederich Fellowship in the Humanities, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1984-85

Representative Publications

  • Ariosto, Ludovico. Latin Poetry. Ed., intro., and trans. Dennis Looney and D. Mark Possanza. I Tatti Renaissance Library, vol. 84. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2018.
  • Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy. The Devers Series in Dante Studies. Notre Dame, Indiana: U of Notre Dame P, 2011.
  • Ariosto, Ludovico. ‘My Muse will have a story to paint’: Selected Prose of Ludovico Ariosto. Trans. and intro. Dennis Looney. Lorenzo da Ponte Italian Library Series. Toronto: U Toronto P, 2010.
  • Zatti, Sergio. The Quest for Epic: From Ariosto to Tasso. Ed. Dennis Looney. Trans. Sally Hill with D. Looney. Intro. Albert Russell Ascoli. Toronto: U Toronto P, 2006.
  • Phaethon’s Children: The Este Court and Its Culture in Early Modern Ferrara. Co-edited with Deanna Shemek. Tempe: Arizona State UP, 2005.
  • Compromising the Classics: Romance Epic Narrative in the Italian Renaissance. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1996.
  • “Tasso’s Allegory of the Source in Gerusalemme Liberata.” Cap. 5 of Compromising the Classics, rpt. in Literature Criticism, ed. T. Schoenberg, vol. 94 (Gale, 2004). 254-72. 
  • “Radical Neoclassicism in Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato.” Cap. 2 of Compromising the Classics, rpt. in Literature Criticism, ed. T. Schoenberg, vol. 168 (Gale, 2009). 48-64.

Research Interest Summary

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

Research Grants

  • ESC/UCIS, Faculty European Grant Competition, University of Pittsburgh, 2011
  • Research Abroad Program Grant, University Pittsburgh, 2002; 2009
  • Hewlett Grant, University of Pittsburgh, 2007; 2008; 2010; 2011; 2012
  • CWES/EUC Small Grant Award, University of Pittsburgh, 2005; 2009; 2010
  • Bowman International Grant, University of Pittsburgh, 2002; 2010
  • Small Grants Program, CRDF, University of Pittsburgh 1991; 1994; 2000
  • Research Grant, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, 1987; 1988

Research Category