Ombretta Frau

  • Dorothy Rooke McCulloch Professor of Italian
  • Chair of Romance Languages and Cultures
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. (2022). “Vagliami il lungo studio e il grande amore. Valentine Giamatti’s Dante Collection at Mount Holyoke College.” CoSMo. Comparative Studies in Modernism, 18, Spring 2021: 231-248.

Frau, O. (2021) “Maraini’s Isolina Thirty-Five Years Later”, in (M. La Luna ed.), A Life Devoted to Writing. Festschrift in Honor of Dacia Maraini,  ConSenso Publishing, 169-185.

Frau, O. (2020). Prefazione (Foreword). In Flavia Steno, La nuova Eva (5-40). Papero Editore.  

Frau, O. (2020). “Le Memorie di Collegio di Mantea: Un Cuore ribelle nella Torino Fin de Siècle”, Special issue of Il lettore di provincia, L (153), 63-78.

Recent Honors

Delivered the following 2 talks:

• “Catabasi e anabasi in Una fra tante di Emma,” American Association for Italian Studies Conference Bologna, May 29-1June 2022

• “Lo sguardo di Anna. La vacanza di Dacia Maraini sessant’anni dopo,” Molestias textuales. Escritoras contra la violencia conference, Universidad de Sevilla, 19-21 May, 2022

Discussed her work on material culture and literature at a round table on Lettrici italiane tra arte e letteratura dall'Ottocento al modernismo at the Society for Italian Studies conference, Warwick University, UK, 20-22 April, 2022.

Gave a talk at the NEMLA conference: “A ‘double’ class conflict in Tanino e Tanotto” NEMLA Conference, March, 10, 2022.

Invited to lecture on “Regulating Prostitution in Nineteenth Century Italy: the Cavour Law,” University of Rhode Island’s Women’s Day Celebration with author Dacia Maraini, March 9, 2022

Invited to lecture on “Regulating Prostitution in Nineteenth Century Italy: the Cavour Law,” University of Rhode Island’s Women’s Day Celebration with author Dacia Maraini, March 9, 2022

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