Francesco Brenna, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor


Contact Info

LA 4210E
TTh 3:30pm - 5pm. Please send
an email to Professor Brenna


PhD, Italian, Johns Hopkins University, 2019
MA, Italian, Università Cattolica di
Milano, 2013
BA, Italian, Università Cattolica di
Milano, 2010

Areas of Expertise

Early modern Italian and English literature, especially epic, sacred poetry, and treatises on poetics. Other areas of interest include the relationship between poetry and Italian cinema and between contemporary Italian poetry and soccer.


My main research project is broadly dedicated to how the value of literature was defined in the Italian Renaissance and to what literature’s place within human learning was. 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 between poetry and soccer (particularly the “poeti interisti”). I am also interested in pedagogy: I have taught a variety of language and literature courses at Johns Hopkins University and Indiana University Bloomington, 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 collaborating as a composer with lyricists and librettists for musical theater projects in workshops run by the Dramatist Guild Institute.  I serve as the Coordinator of the Italian Program for the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures.

Fall 2023 Course Schedule

  • ITAL 101.001   Italian Elements I
  • ITAL 201.001   Italian Intermediate I
  • ITAL 370.101   Special Topics in Italian:  Epic - Italy to Game of Thrones