Daniel Leisawitz

Assistant Professor, Italian
Director of Italian Studies Program
Languages, Literatures & Cultures
Main Campus > Ettinger Building > 101D


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  • Ph.D., Yale University
  • M.A., University of Pennsylvania
  • B.A., Lafayette College


Teaching Interests

teach courses in Italian language, literature, art and culture. My language courses are based on "Spunti", a free, online curriculum that I have authored together with my colleague, Daniela Viale, specifically for Muhlenberg students, but open to anyone who wishes to use it.  We use an interactive, communicative approach that has students speaking Italian from the first day of class. I believe strongly in the importance of second-language study as the cornerstone of a liberal arts education and a crucial endeavor for students wishing to have an active and informed role in their career, in their community and in the world. 

I also teach a growing roster of courses on Italian literature, art and culture, including Italian Theatre in Translation, Jewish-Italian Literature & Culture, and Italian Cities in Italian Cinema. In these courses, students delve into Italian literature, art, music and thought—from Dante’s Divine Comedy to contemporary works—in order to arrive at a deep understanding of the great diversity and richness of Italian culture and to cultivate broader and more nuanced perspectives on the world and on our own society.

The study of Italian language, literature, art, and culture constitutes the foundation of the interdisciplinary Italian Studies Program.

Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests

My areas of scholarly research include Italian cinema, Italian Renaissance and 20th-century literature, Jewish-Italian culture, and the intersection of technology and the arts. In addition to my traditional print scholarship, I collaborate with student researchers in a long-term digital humanities project, “The Orlando Furioso Atlas”, a cartographic exploration and analysis of Ludovico Ariosto’s 16th-century epic romance, the Orlando Furioso. This online atlas allows students and scholars to investigate this fundamental Renaissance text in innovative ways.

Together with my colleague, Daniela Viale, I am the co-author of the free, online Italian texts, Spunti: Italiano elementare 1 and Spunti: Italiano elementare 2.  These open educational resources (OERs) are available online to everyone, free of charge. They present the study of Italian language in a communicative and culturally rich context and are designed specifically with Muhlenberg students in mind. 

My most recent scholarly publication appeared in the Italian Studies journal, Italica (97.2). It is an exploration and selected translation of the work of the Jewish poet and linguist Crescenzo Del Monte (1868-1935), who sought to preserve through his scholarship and poetry the particular dialect of the Jews of Rome, Giudaico-Romanesco.

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