Assistant 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), 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. This monograph 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.
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.
- 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.
- "Notes on the End of Rome Open City," The Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies 6, no. 3 (2018): 359-372.
- "'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.
Office: 309 Decio