Ombretta Frau

Dorothy Rooke McCulloch Professor of Italian; on leave Spring 2022
modern Italian literature; Italian women writers; history of Italian culture; Luigi Pirandello

Ombretta Frau is the Dorothy Rooke McCulloch Professor of Italian. Her scholarly interests include nineteenth and early twentieth-century Italian public intellectuals, modern philology, and Luigi Pirandello. She has published extensively on Pirandello, Vincenzo Cerami, Aldo Palazzeschi, Jolanda, Mantea, Sfinge, Mara Antelling, Italian fascism, motherhood, internet verbal violence against women, and Italian material culture. She has a blog on the Italian Huffington Post and she is former president of the Women’s Studies Caucus of the American Association for Italian Studies. 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).

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, Literature and Fascism; Liars, Pranksters and Jesters in Italian Theatre, and Elena Ferrante. Her classes incorporate many pedagogical tools, including film and music, and she believes in creating a relaxed and friendly classroom atmosphere that encourages communication.

Recent Campus News

Faculty and administrators on a Zoom call, smiling into the camera.

Four faculty members honored

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

Ombretta Frau, Chair and Professor of Classics and Italian, Chair of Theatre Arts Steering Committee

“Material Culture and Memory"

The Italian professor from Mount Holyoke gave two talks at University College Cork, Ireland.

Mount Holyoke College Library reading room. Photo by Michael Malyszko

New grants to Mount Holyoke and its faculty.

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

Recent Grants

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

Recent Publications

Frau, O. (2021). Tazenda. The Italian Song.

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.

Frau, O. (2020). “La mia azienda:” Matilde Serao e Il Giorno. Lettere inedite [‘My company’: Matilde Serao and Il Giorno. With unpublished correspondence]. Oblio. Osservatorio Bibliografico della Letteratura Italiana Otto-Novecentesca, 36 (2019), 122-138.

Recent Honors

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.

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

On 9 March, Ombretta Frau was 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, 9 March 2022

Was invited to deliver the following two lectures in Italy: 1. “American Dante: The Divine Comedy Revisited”, Centro Studi Americani, Rome, 13 September 2021 2. “Una congiura di buoni. L’esilio dell’anima in Una fra tante”, University of Rome La Sapienza, 15 September 2021 She also delivered a paper on “Archaeological Recollections in Pirandello’s Sicilian short-stories” at The Tales of Archaeology. Towards a Literary 'Memory Map' of the Mediterranean Space Conference at the Academia Belgica in Rome on 16-18 September 2021.


Was invited to speak at an event to “Celebrate Dacia Maraini on International Women’s Day” at the University of Rhode Island on March 5, 2021.