Valentine Giamatti and students

The Valentine Giamatti Lecture and Dante Collection

Italian has been part of the Mount Holyoke curriculum at least since 1893. But it was in 1940, when Valentine Giamatti joined the Mount Holyoke College faculty, that Italian language and culture became a vital part of the College.

Professor Giamatti was born in 1911 and received a Ph.D. from Harvard University and a laurea from the University of Florence, Italy. A beloved professor, he taught at Mount Holyoke until 1973, when he retired. He died in 1982 at the age of 71.

Professor Giamatti and his wife Mary Walton (1914-2006), a graduate of Smith College, had three children. Their son Angelo Bartlett “Bart” Giamatti (1938-1989) became President of Yale University in 1978 and Baseball Commissioner in 1989, only months before his sudden death. Angelo is the father of actor Paul Giamatti.

His collection survives in the Mount Holyoke Archives.

2023-24 Valentine Giamatti Lecture

Italo Calvino. The Writer in the Trees
A documentary screening and discussion with director Duccio Chiarini

2022-23 Valentine Giamatti Lecture

Italian author, Dacia Maraini in conversation with Professor Michelangelo LaLuna ( University of Rhode Island) on writing, travel and Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Dante at 700

Three members of the Italian faculty on a Zoom screen to introduce a video

To mark the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, the Italian program at Mount Holyoke College is proud to present a complete reading of the Divine Comedy in Italian by current and former faculty, students, and staff.

Watch the video

Please note that this complete video is 15 hours and 45 minutes long and is not captioned. A translation of the text is available.

Note that the video file is very large. Depending on your download speed, it could take several minutes for the video to start playing once you click on the play button.

2021-22 Valentine Giamatti Lecture

A talk by author Neil Proto, with an introduction to the Mount Holyoke College Valentine Giamatti Dante collection by Leslie Fields.

2020-21 Valentine Giamatti Lecture

"Dante's Afterlife in 2021" on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri's death. A lecture and discussion by Guy Raffa, The University of Texas at Austin.

Giamatti Lecture Series archive


Italian author Dacia Maraini in conversation with Professor Michelangelo LaLuna (University of Rhode Island) on writing, travel and Pier Paolo Pasolini.


The Divine Comedy Marathon Launch A talk by Neil Proto, author of Fearless: A. Bartlett Giamatti and the Battle for Fairness in America [2020]

An introduction to the Valentine Giamatti Dante collection by Leslie Fields, Head of Archives and Special Collections, MHC


The Color Line
Art & Struggle for Freedom Across Continents
Novelist Igiaba Scego in conversation with Candice Whitney’15, moderated by Professor Ombretta Frau

Dante’s Afterlife in 2021 on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s Death Lecture and discussion by Guy Raffa, The University of Texas at Austin


Author, Jhumpa Lahiri on Italian Short Stories, edited by J. Lahiri, Penguin, 2019


To Commemorate Ten Years of L’Aquila’s Earthquake
Cultural Responses to Natural Disasters: The Case of L’Aquila
Laura Benedetti, Laura and Gaetano De Sole Professor of Italian, Georgetown University


Amir Issaa Vivo per Questo (This is what I live for)
Book presentation and mini concert


Amara Lakhous, Italian author, anthropologist and journalist
Narrating the Mediterranean-with Originality-My journey as a Bilingual Writer in Arabic and Italian


Jhumpa Lahiri on her book, In alter parole/In Other Words (2015)


Carmine Abate Write and Live as a Global Citizen


Dacia Maraini Chiara of Assisi: in Praise of Disobedience


Lucia Annunziata, RAITV journalist and former editor, Huffington Post Italy
“Italy from Eat, Pray, Love to Politics. The way the world sees us now”


New Italians. A Symposium on 21st century Italy, with:

  • Giovanna Bellesia, Smith College “ The Power of the Arts in the Fight against Xenophobic Rhetoric
  • Calvin Chen, Mount Holyoke College, “Made in Italy (by the Chinese): Economic Restructuring and the Politics of Migration”
  • Shelleen Greene, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee,. “Haile Gerima's Adwa: An African Victory and Isaac Julien's Western Union: small boats: Italy and the African Diaspora”
  • Vetri Nathan, University of Massachusetts, Boston, “Ridere (per non piangere?): Humor in the Italian Literature of Immigration”


Paola Gambarota, Rutgers University, “The Genius of Language and National Character”


2010 Valeria Finucci, Duke University
Clothes, Cosmopolitan Polish and Excess: Italy through the Illustrated Albums of Foreign Students Spring

2009 Luca Somigli, U of Toronto
“A Poet in Search of a Poetics: On F. T. Marinetti's Pre-Futurist Criticism.”

Spring 2008

Angelo Mazzocco, MHC Emeritus, “Dante, Leonardo Bruni and the Issue of Fiorentinità”.

Spring 2007

Robert Edwards, The Pennsylvania State University, “ ‘Lessons meete to be Followed’: the European Reception of Boccaccio’s ‘Questioni d’amore’’’.

Spring 2006

Millicent Marcus, Yale U., “Laura Mulvey and the Uses of Feminist Film Theory: Case Studies in Italian Cinema.”

Spring 2005

Ellen Nerenberg, Wesleyan U., “Bad Girls/Behind Bars: Italian Fascism, Gender, and the Spaces of Confinement”

Spring 2004

Giuseppe Mazzotta, Yale U., “Luigi Pulci’s Representations of Islam”

Contact us

The Department of Classics and Italian oversees programs in ancient studies, classics, Italian, Greek and Latin.

Denise Falk
  • Academic Department Coordinator