Ombretta Frau


  • Dorothy Rooke McCulloch Professor of Italian
  • Chair of Romance Languages and Cultures
  • Chair of Classics and Italian
Ombretta Frau

Ombretta Frau is the Dorothy Rooke McCulloch Professor of Italian. Her scholarly interests include nineteenth and early twentieth-century Italian public intellectuals, Luigi Pirandello, and the material culture of literature. She has published extensively on Pirandello, Jolanda, Mantea’s Hawaiian journal, Sfinge, Mara Antelling, Annie Vivanti, Flavia Steno, Matilde Serao, Dacia Maraini, Aldo Palazzeschi, Vincenzo Cerami, Italian fascism, motherhood, the connection between language, gender and violence on the internet, and the relationship between fascism and culture. With Temple University’s Cristina Gragnani, she is the author of the critical edition of Luigi Pirandello’s Taccuino di Harvard (Mondadori, 2002) and Sottoboschi letterari. Sei case studies fra Otto e Novecento: Mara Antelling, Emma Boghen Conigliani, Evelyn, Anna Franchi, Jolanda, Flavia Steno (Firenze University Press, 2011). Her most recent publications include articles on the Giamatti Dante Collection at Mount Holyoke, and on Matilde Serao’s correspondence.  

Frau has taught at Boston College, Rice University, and Harvard University, where she received excellence in teaching awards. At Mount Holyoke, she teaches both language and literature courses, including courses on Children’s Literature, Travel Literature, the Short Story, Italian Food culture, Literature and Fascism; Italian Theatre, and Elena Ferrante. Her classes incorporate many pedagogical tools, including film, music and museum collections, and she believes in creating a relaxed and friendly classroom atmosphere that encourages discussion and communication.

Frau is the recipient of the 2022 Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship at Mount Holyoke.

Areas of Expertise

modern Italian literature; Italian women writers; history of Italian culture; Luigi Pirandello


  • Ph.D., A.M., Harvard University
  • M.A., Boston College
  • University of Cagliari, Italy, Laurea

Happening at Mount Holyoke

Recent campus news

Members of the Mount Holyoke community gathered recently to celebrate four professors at the annual Faculty Awards ceremony.

Mount Holyoke College and its professors received several grants and fellowships between November 2015 and March 2016.

Grants from the Fulbright Program will support Mount Holyoke winners’ graduate study and independent research, and send two to teach English in Europe and Asia.

Recent Grants

Received a grant from the Consulate General of Italy, Boston, to support an Italian tutor.

Recent Publications

Frau, O. (2024) The Making of Il Giorno. Matilde Serao’s Letters to Luigi Luzzatti. In Claire E. Martin, Clorinda Donato (eds.). The Palgrave Handbook of Transnational Women’s Writing in the Long Nineteenth Century (641-658). Palgrave MacMillan.

Frau, O. (2023). “From Il signorino to Tanino e Tanotto: Pirandello’s ‘double’ conflict.” PSA. The Journal of the Pirandello Society of America, XXXV, 2022-2023, 24-44.

Frau, O. (2023). Italo Calvino’s Lecture at Mount Holyoke College: Description and the Future of Literature. California Italian Studies Themed Issue Calvino’s Memos: Between the Old and the New Millennium, 12.

Ellen Alvord, Ombretta Frau. Old Things Considered: Museum Objects and the Study of 19th-Century Italian Literature (2023). In Heather Flaherty and Jodi Kovach (eds.). Language Learning in Academic Museums: New Paradigms for Cultural Study, Language Acquisition and Campus Engagement (pp. 65-80). Rowman and Littlefield.

Frau, O. (2023). Jolanda, Angiolo Orvieto, and Cosimo Giorgieri-Contri: Asymmetric Mentoring Relationships. In Catherine Ramsey-Portolano, Sharon Hecker (eds.), Female Cultural Production in Modern Italy (pp. 159-172). Palgrave MacMillan.

Recent Honors

Ombretta Frau. Organizer, curator and moderator for the inaugural American Association for Italian Studies' Giornata di Studio on Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's conservative feminism, January 27, 2023

Ombretta Frau. First-Generation Cording Ceremony Speaker, Mount Holyoke College, April 30, 2023.

Ombretta Frau. Lecture on XVIII century Venice and Carlo Goldoni’s Theatre for Professor Monika Schmitter, U. of Massachusetts Amherst, April 21, 2023.

Ombretta Frau. Rembrandt’s suggestions in Grazia Deledda’s early fiction. Ottocentismi Conference, Seton Hall University, March 30-31, 2023.

Ombretta Frau. “Trauma and Resilience in Pirandello’s L’altro figlio,” NEMLA Conference, March 23-26, 2023.

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