Ombretta Frau

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

A blogger for the Italian Huffington Post, Ombretta Frau's scholarly interests include Luigi Pirandello, as well as nineteenth and early twentieth-century Italian journals, modern philology, and women writers. At Mount Holyoke, she teaches both language and literature courses, including Sorelle di penna; Literature and Fascism; Liars, Pranksters and Jesters on the Italian Stage; and Travellers in Modern Italian Literature. Her classes incorporate many pedagogical tools, including film and music, and she believes in creating a relaxed and friendly classroom atmosphere that encourages communication.

Frau has taught at Boston College, Rice University, and Harvard University, where she received excellence in teaching awards. She has published articles on Pirandello, Vincenzo Cerami, Mantea, Jolanda, Mara Antelling, Italian fascism, motherhood in literature and Licinio Cappelli.  With Cristina Gragnani (Temple University) she is the author of the critical edition of Luigi Pirandello's Taccuino di Harvard (Mondadori, Milano 2002). In 2007, she published an introduced and annotated edition of Mantea’s Espatriata: da Torino a Honolulu (Salerno Editrice). Her new book--co-written with Cristina Gragnani--is Sottoboschi letterari. Sei case studies fra Otto e Novecento: Mara Antelling, Emma Boghen Conigliani, Evelyn, Anna Franchi, Jolanda, Flavia Steno (Firenze University Press, Florence, 2011).

Frau is the former president of the Women's Studies Caucus of the American Association for Italian Studies.

Photo: Piazza Salvatore Satta, Nuoro, Italy, 'Sculpture by Costantino Nivola'


Pirandello, Luigi,1867-1936. Taccuino di Harvard, ed. by Ombretta Frau, Cristina Gragnani, Mondadori, Milan, 2002

Introduced and annotated by Frau and Gragnani. This critical edition of a previously unknown manuscript literary notebook by Pirandello contains notes for plays, novels and short stories, together with Pirandello's own reading lists. The manuscript is almost entirely undated, but the editors were able to date most of it between 1898 and 1902. Harvard's Houghton Library owns the original manuscript. With some illustrations.

Mantea, Espatriata. Da Torino a Honolulu, ed. by Ombretta Frau, Salerno Editrice, Rome, 2007

This introduced and annotated critical' edition of Mantea's own travel journal to Honolulu in 1887 contains the intimate account of a marital crisis and an adventurous journey through Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the United States and the Pacific. Mantea [Baroness Gina Sobrero, 1863-1912] married Hawaiian native Robert William Wilcox in Turin and then followed him to an ill-fated journey to Hawaii. She returned to Italy two years later, without her husband and daughter . Mantea became a well-known Italian miss manners while Wilcox was the first Hawaiian delegate to the United States.

O. Frau, C. Gragnani, Sottoboschi letterari. Sei case studies fra Otto e Novecento. Mara Antelling, Emma Boghen Conigliani, Evelyn, Anna Franchi, Jolanda, Flavia Steno, Firenze University Press, Florence, 2011

Sottoboschi letterari brings together essays about six female writers from the period between the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first world war: Mara Antelling, Emma Boghen Conigliani, Evelyn, Anna Franchi, Jolanda, and Flavia Steno. Through the metaphor of the undergrowth, which recalls certain features of Deleuze's rhizome, the book explores the way in which the chosen writers made headway in the literary scene of Italy at the end of the nineteenth century through contributions in the form of narrative, essays, sociology and literary criticism. Apparently conservative, and subscribing to the dominant vision of the role of women in society and in the family, these writers nevertheless made a decisive step towards the modern concept of the female intellectual.


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