Francesco Brenna

Francesco Brenna

Visiting Lecturer, Italian


  • PhD, Italian, Johns Hopkins University, 2019
  • MA, Italian, Universit√† Cattolica di Milano, 2013
  • BA, Italian, Universit√† Cattolica di Milano, 2010

Research areas

  • Early modern Italian and English poetics and epic
  • Early modern sacred poetry
  • Scientific and poetic knowledge in the Renaissance
  • The relationship between music and literature
  • The relationship between film and poetry
  • Twentieth-century Italian poetry

About Francesco Brenna

After a BA (2010) and an MA (2013) in Italian at Università Cattolica in Milan, I obtained a PhD in Italian at Johns Hopkins University in May 2019. I currently hold a position as Visiting Lecturer in the French and Italian department at Indiana University Bloomington for 2019–2020.

My main research project is broadly dedicated to the questions of how the value of literature was defined in the Italian Renaissance and of literature’s place within human learning and the quest for knowledge and truth. I study these questions by examining early modern pedagogies, treatises on poetics, epic poems, reflections on the value of literature vis-à-vis music and science, sacred poetry, and John Milton’s work, which I take as the culmination of the previous Italian tradition. I am also keen to organize and participate in community outreach initiatives to discuss how Renaissance poetics can help us define the value of literature and the arts today.

My other area of interest is the Italian twentieth century, namely the relationships between poetry and film (Fellini and Antonioni) and between poetry and soccer (particularly the “poeti interisti”).

I am also interested in pedagogy: I have taught and designed a variety of language and literature courses, and I obtained the Johns Hopkins Teaching Academy Certificate and the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship.

Finally, I studied jazz piano, arrangement, and I took courses at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. While in Italy, I worked as a performer and as a piano teacher. In New York, I have been been collaborating as a composer with lyricists and librettists for musical theater projects in workshops run by the Dramatist Guild Institute.