A photo of Thomas Harrison

Thomas Harrison


E-mail: harrison@humnet.ucla.edu Office: Royce Hall 350

Office Hours: On sabbatical

Fields of interest: Italian, modernism and avant-garde, film studies, philosophy, poetry, music, comparative literature

Thomas Harrison, Ph.D in Comparative Literature from the Graduate Center, CUNY, is a Professor of Italian and has authored Of Bridges: A Poetic and Philosophical Account: https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/O/bo60514698.html.  He specializes in modern European intellectual history, literature, the comparative arts and film. He also researches contemporary Italian critical theory, music, aesthetics, the modernist novel and poetics.

He is the author of 1910: The Emancipation of Dissonance, a study of European expressionism across the arts, and of Essayism: Conrad, Musil and Pirandello. He has edited Nietzsche in Italy as well as The Favorite Malice: Ontology and Reference in Contemporary Italian Poetry. He has also published studies of Leopardi, Claudio Magris, Carlo Michelstaeder, Gianni Vattimo, Ungaretti, Montale, Zanzotto, Elsa Morante, Antonio Tabucchi and Gianni Celati. A bass and flute player, he has recorded music with the literary rock group Glass Wave.

Featured Works

Selected Publications


  • “Offscreen Space:  From Cinema and Sculpture to Photography, Poetry and Narrative,” submitted to California Italian Studies 7 (2017).
  • “Michelstaedter and Existentialist Authenticity Avant La Lettre:  From Heidegger and Sartre to Simone Weil,” forthcoming in Storia e storiografia di Carlo Michelstaedter, ed. Valerio Cappozzo, in the series Romance Monographs (Oxford, MI: University of Mississippi, 2016).
  • “In the Wake of Conrad and Musil:  The Story of History in Claudio Magris’ Alla cieca,” Compar(a)ison:  An International Journal of Comparative Literature 1-2, Narrative and Reflection, ed. Stefano Ercolino and Christy Wampole (2010 [2015]): 171-185.
  • “The Architectural Word,” Inquieto pensare: Scritti in onore di Massimo Cacciari, ed. Emanuele Severino and Vincenzo Vitiello (Brescia: Morcelliana, 2015): 271-282.
  • “No Novel is an Island:  Damiano Damiani’s L’isola di Arturo,” Elsa Morante’s Politics of Writing:  Rethinking Subjectivity, History, and the Power of Art, ed. Stefania Lucamante (Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2015): 161-172.
  • “The Essayistic Novel and Mode of Life: Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities,” Republics of Letters: A Journal for the Study of Knowledge, Politics, and the Arts 4.1 (2014): 1-14. http://arcade.stanford.edu/rofl/essayistic-novel-and-mode-life-robert-musils-man-without-qualities
  • “Autenticità o Auto-Parodia?” Carlo Michelstaedter:  Kunst – Poesie – Philosophie, ed. Yvonne Hütter (Tübingen: Narr Verlag, 2014): 49-62.
  • “Without Precedent:  The Watts Towers,” Sabato Rodia’s Towers in Watts: Art, Migrations, Development, ed. Luisa Del Giudice (NY: Fordham University Press, 2014): 91-101 and notes 432-435.  This is a new edition of the essay cited further below.
  • “Rhetoric of Youth, or Bridges to Nowhere,” Between, IV.7 (2014): 1-18. http://ojs.unica.it/index.php/between/article/view/1241
  • “Istrian Italy and the Homeland:  The Lessons of Poetry,” Forum Italicum:  Italy from Without 47:2 (2013): 324-35.
  • “Persuasive Discord:  Michelstaedter in the Light of Schoenberg, Buber, Rilke, and Lukács,” Humanitas. Rivista Bimestrale di Cultura 66:5 (Sept-Oct 2011): 793-801.
  • “Hidden in Open View:  The Poetry of Emilio Villa,” American Poet 41 (Fall 2011):  35-39.
  • “A Tale of Two Giannis:  Writing as Rememoration,” Annali d’Italianistica: Italian Critical Theory 29 (2011): 269-290.
  • “Smaller and Larger Families:  Lina Wertmuller’s The Seduction of Mimi,” Mafia Movies:  A Reader, ed. Dana Renga (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2011): 261-269.
  • “The World Outside the Window:  Antonioni’s Architectonics of Space and Time” (co-authored with Sarah Carey),  Italian Culture 29:1 (March 2011): 37-51.
  • “Without Precedent:  The Watts Towers,” California Italian Studies 1:2 (2009-2010), 16 pages <http://escholarship.org/uc/ismrg_cisj>  Publisher:  University of California and The California Digital Library.
  • “Carlo Michelstaedter e la metafisica della volontà,” Carlo Michelstaedter tra nichilismo ebraismo e cristianesimo, ed. Sergio Sorrentino and Angela Michelis (Troina:  Città Aperta Edizioni, 2009): 105-126.
  • “Laughter and the Tree of Knowledge,” Italy and France: Imagined Geographies, special issue of The Romanic Review 97: 3-4 (May-November 2006): 501-515.
  • “Robert Musil: The Suspension of the World,” The Man Without Qualities, ed. Harold Bloom (Philadelphia: Chelsea, 2005).  31 pages.
  • “Overcoming Aestheticism,” Italian Modernism:  Italian Culture between Decadentism and Avant-Garde, ed. Mario Moroni and Luca Somigli (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2004): 167-190.
  • “Tempus tacendi, tempus loquendi,”  Poesia 172 (May 2003).
  • “Fine della lotta fra poesia e filosofia,” La lotta con Proteo, ed. Luigi Ballerini, Gay Bardin and Massimo Ciavolella (Florence:  Casalini, 2000): 467-477.
  • “Playing with Plato’s Shadows,” Critic Eye 1 (April 2000).
  • “Regicide, Parricide and Tyrannicide in Il fu Mattia Pascal:  Stealing from the Father to Give to the Son,” Luigi Pirandello:  Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Gian-Paolo Biasin and Manuela Gieri (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999): 189-213.
  • “Leopardi, Unabomber,” Giacomo Leopardi:  Poeta e filosofo, ed. Alessandro Carrera (Florence:  Cadmo, 1999): 51-60.
  • “The Michelstaedter Enigma,” Differentia:  Review of Italian Thought 8-9 (Spring/ Autumn 1999): 125-141.
  • “De ethiek van het misverstand:  Een twintigste-eeuws dilemma bij Michelstaedter, Lukács en Wittgenstein” (An Ethics of Misunderstanding), Nexus 20 (May 1998): 66-91.
  • “Thinking in the Absence of Image,” Introduction to Michelangelo Antonioni, Unfinished Business:  Screenplays, Scenarios and Ideas (New York:  Marsilio Publishers, 1998): xi-xvii.
  • “Filosofia dell’arte, filosofia della morte,” Filosofia ’95, ed. Gianni Vattimo (Bari:  Laterza, 1996): 7-31.
  • “Stanley Fish,” La critica in America, ed. John Picchione (Rome:  Bulzoni Editore, 1993): 97-113.
  • “Alfredo Giuliani,” Twentieth Century Italian Poetry:  An Anthology, ed. John Picchione and Lawrence R. Smith (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 1993): 371-381.
  • “The Lyric and the Antilyric,” Shearsmen of Sorts:  Italian Poetry 1975-1993 (Forum Italicum, Italian Poetry Supplement, 1992): 109-130.
  • “Carlo Michelstaedter and the Metaphysics of Will,” MLN 106 (December 1991): 1012-1029.
  • “Deconstruction and Reader-Response:  The Pedagogical Essay,” Italian Literature in North America, ed. John Picchione and Laura Pietropaolo (Ottawa:  The Canadian Society for Italian Studies, 1990): 131-138.
  • “D’Annunzio’s Poetics:  The Orphic Conceit,” Annali d’Italianistica 5 (1987): 60-73.
  • “Have I Been Understood?  The Eternal Nowhere of Nietzschean Existence,” Stanford Italian Review 6 (1986): 181-198.
  • “Andrea Zanzotto:  From the Language of the World to the World of Language,” Poesis 5 (1984): 68-85.  Reprinted in The Empty Set, ed. Maurizio Godorecci (New York:  Queens College Press, 1984): 66-78, and in Poetry Criticism 65 (2006): 272-278.
  • “Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Language of Contemporary Italian Poetry,” in The Favorite Malice: 19-55.


  • Cristina Perissinotto and Charles Klopp, eds., Cronache dal cielo stretto.  Scrivere il Nordest, Annali d’italianistica 33 (2015):  485-487.
  • Emma Bond, Disrupted Narratives:  Illness, Silence and Identity in Svevo, Pressburger and Morandini, Quaderni d’italianistica 34:2 (2013):  166-167.
  • Luciano Nanni, Communication:  The Power of Location.  Essays on Adespotic Aesthetics, Quaderni d’italianistica 23:2 (Fall 2002): 152-154.
  • Michelangelo Antonioni, The Architecture of Vision:  Writings & Interviews on Cinema, Film Criticism 22:2 (Winter 1997-98): 66-71.
  • Claudia Monti, La metafora della scienza, Musil-Forum 17-18 (1991-92): 344-48.
  • Beverly Allen, Verso la “Beltà.” Gli esordi della poesia di Andrea Zanzotto, L’anello che non tiene 3 (1989): 76-78.
  • F.J. Jones, The Modern Italian Lyric, Italica 66 (1989): 361-64.
  • Jacques Taminiaux, Recoupements, Review of Metaphysics 39 (1985): 172-73.
  • Stephen Kern, The Culture of Time and Space, Review of Metaphysics 39 (1985): 162-63.
  • Thomas Sheehan, Heidegger:  The Man and the Thinker, Review of Metaphysics 37 (1983): 146-48.


  • Lucio Mariani, “Poets,” American Poet 41 (Fall 2011): 39.
  • Andrea Zanzotto, “Come ultime cene,” “Soprammobili e gel” and “(Anticicloni, inverni),” in The Selected Poetry of Andrea Zanzotto:  A Bilingual Edition, ed. Patrick Barron (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2007), pp. 216-219 and 228-239.
  • Gianni Vattimo, The Adventure of Difference:  Philosophy After Nietzsche and Heidegger (assistant translator).  Baltimore:  The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.
  • Jean-Luc Nancy, “Dei Paralysis Progressiva,” in The Birth to Presence (Stanford:  Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 48-57.
  • Gianni Vattimo, “Italy Revolts,” The New York Times, June 2, 1993, p. 19.
  • Giorgio Agamben, Jean-Luc Nancy, Claudio Magris, Mazzino Montinari, Giorgio Colli, Anacleto Verrecchia, Gianni Vattimo and Jean-Luc Nancy: seven essays in Nietzsche in Italy, ed. T. Harrison, 1988.
  • Gianni Vattimo, “Dialectics, Difference, Weak Thought,” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 10 (1984): 151-164.
  • G. Vattimo, “Difference and Interference:  On the Reduction of Hermeneutics to Anthropology,” Res 4 (1982): 85-91.
  • G. Vattimo, “Bottle, Net, Truth, Revolution,” Denver Quarterly 16 (1982): 24-34.

Courses commonly taught

  • Italian Cinema and Culture (Italian 46, a General Education course)
  • Modern and Contemporary Italian Literature in Translation (Italian 150)
  • Graduate Courses in Italian Film (Antonioni, Commedia all’italiana, Neorealism)
  • The Border Culture of Trieste
  • Svevo, Pirandello, Calvino
  • Rock Music (freshman seminars, on lyrics, progressive rock, Pink Floyd, Italian progressive rock, Zappa)

Radio, Television, and Music

  • Invisible Cities: An Opera for Headphones (Los Angeles:  The Industry).  LA–Area Emmy Award Winner, 2014.  Interviewee. http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/los-angeles/artbound-wins-la-area-emmy-for-invisible-cities-documentary.html
  • Pink Floyd, one-hour interview, Entitled Opinions, KZSU Radio, Stanford.  Broadcast May 11, 2010.
  • “Jimi Plays Rome:  Text and Photos by Thomas Harrison,” UniVibes 60 (2010): 26-28.Glass Wave (literary musical ensemble).  Music CD, issued April 2010.
  • 1910, one-hour interview, Entitled Opinions, KZSU Radio, Stanford.  Broadcast March 7, 2006.
  • Mussolini’s Secret War, one-hour documentary for The History Channel, 2001.  Interviewee.
  • Cool, RAI Tre, 1998.  With Paolo Fabbri and Jean Baudrillard.  Interviewee.
  • Evening in Italy.  Week-long television special for Group W-KYW Television, Philadelphia, 1990.  Production Coordinator.
  • Conversazione con Richard Rorty.  Interview with the American philosopher on RAI, Italian National Broadcasting Corporation:  America from Coast to Coast, Terzo Programma, 1984.