Charles L. Leavitt IV

Associate Professor of Italian


Ph.D., in Literature, University of Notre Dame

M.A., in Italian Studies, University of Notre Dame

B.A., in Comparative Literature, University of Oregon

Research and Teaching Interests

Modern and contemporary Italian literature, Italian film studies, Fascism and Resistance, Post-war Italian history, Literary criticism and theory, Comparative literature, Cultural intersections between the Italian and African-American experience


Professor Leavitt is a scholar of modern and contemporary Italy, with a particular research focus on the literary and cultural history of the post-war period. His work explores the efforts of artists and intellectuals to construct Italian histories, identities, and cultures with their creative and critical interventions across diverse media. Investigating these efforts through both formal and contextual analysis, he draws on and seeks to contribute to scholarship in literature, film studies, and history. While his disciplinary home is Italian Studies, his work adopts a comparative approach, tracing both the transnational configuration of cultural trends that have shaped the Italian scene and the routes of exchange that have conveyed Italian contributions to global culture. He is especially interested in the ways Italian writers and filmmakers have embraced international agendas and audiences when addressing local and national concerns.

His first book, Italian Neorealism: A Cultural History (University of Toronto Press, 2020), was awarded the 2020 Book Prize for Visual Studies, Film and Media from the American Association of Italian Studies. The monograph adopts a comprehensive, comparative, and interdisciplinary approach to describe and analyze a neorealist project encompassing film, literature, theatre, art and architecture, cultural criticism, and political and intellectual debate. Professor Leavitt's book examines the work of celebrated neorealist filmmakers, including Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti, as well as that of understudied directors such as De Santis and Vergano, alongside investigations of many of the influential artists and authors who similarly contributed to the development of Italian neorealism.

Professor Leavitt’s current research examines minoritized cultures in twentieth-century Italy. Working with the University of Notre Dame’s Primo Levi Collection, and co-directing the Primo Levi Digital Commentary, a joint collaboration with Cambridge University, Leavitt studies Italian Jewish culture, as well as the history and legacy of Italian anti-Semitism. A recent publication on these topics, “Deicide and the Drama of the Holocaust: Gian Paolo Callegari’s Cristo ha ucciso (1948),” was awarded the 2022 Italian Studies essay prize. Leavitt also continues to research and teach the intersections between Italian and African American history and culture. His current book project, provisionally entitled The War Between Black and White: Racial Conflict in American-Occupied Italy, examines the significant role played by African American soldiers during and after the Second World War in Italy. For more details, see the video below.

A Fellow of the UK’s Higher Education Academy, Professor Leavitt has received an Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Reading and a Kaneb Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award from the University of Notre Dame. He teaches a variety of courses on Italian and comparative literature and cinema, in Italian and translation, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He also supervises undergraduate and graduate research in modern Italian studies.

A Faculty Fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and a Research Fellow of the University of Reading (UK), Professor Leavitt serves on the editorial boards of the journals Italian Studies and the Italianist.

Representative Publications

  • “Deicide and the Drama of the Holocaust: Gian Paolo Callegari’s Cristo ha ucciso (1948),” Italian Studies 77, no. 3 (2022), 1-15.
  • Italian Neorealism: A Cultural History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2020)
  • "The Forbidden City: Tombolo Between American Occupation and Italian Imagination," in Cultural Change Through Language and Narrative: Italy and the USA, eds. Guido Bonsaver, Alessandro Carlucci, and Matthew Reza (London: Legenda, 2020), 143-155.
  • "An Entirely New Land?' Italy's Post-War Culture and its Fascist Past," Journal of Modern Italian Studies 21, no. 1 (Jan. 2016): 4-18.
  • "Impegno Nero: Italian Intellectuals and the African-American Struggle," California Italian Studies 4, no. 2 (2013): 1-34.

Phone: (574)-631-9302
Office: 372 Decio Hall
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:00pm - 2:00pm