Rocco Rubini

rocco rubini
Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures, Fundamentals, and the College
Wieboldt 118
Ph.D, Yale University, 2009

On leave for 2021-22

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.