A photo of Thomas Harrison

Thomas Harrison

Professor, Vice Chair of Undergraduate Studies

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

Office Hours: Tues & Thurs 10:00-11:00 + Tues 3:45-5:00 + by appointment

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 who has most recently 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 also 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


  • “A Plumb Line to the Soul:  Method and Self-Transcendence in Georg Simmel’s Rome,” submitted to Theory, Society & Culture.
  • “L’Outsider Art di Alessandro Dal Lago,” introduction to A cosa servono le scienze sociali. Conversazione con Alessandro Dal Lago, ed. Marco Traversari (Dueville VI: Ronzani Editore, 2023).
  • “Thoughts on Adaptation and Transmediality Illustrated by the Blues of Roberto Ciotti, a Film on Carlo Michelstaedter, and Several Other Case Studies,” forthcoming in Adaptation as a Transmedial Process: Theories and Practices, ed. Mimmo Cangiano and Filippo Luca Sambugaro (Venice: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari, 2023).
  • “Pirandello and Suicide,” forthcoming in Pirandello in Context, ed. Patricia Gaborik (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2020).
  • “Towards a New Ecological Imagination: Post-Anthropocentric Leopardi,” Costellazioni 4: 10 (October, 2019): 125-38.
  • “A Tale of Two Giannis:  Nihilism, Appearances, and Writing as Remoration,” in Gianni Celati, Towards the River’s Mouth (Verso la foce): A Critical Edition, ed. Patrick Barron (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2019). Pp. 165-186.
  •  “Poetry, Between Alpha and Omega,” California Italian Studies 8: 1 (2018): 1-7. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/7sz3j2r6.
  • “Offscreen Space:  From Cinema and Sculpture to Photography, Poetry and Narrative,” Moving Images, ed. Marguerite Waller and Aine O’Healy, California Italian Studies 7: 1 (2017): 1-20.     https://escholarship.org/uc/item/2w40187f.
  • “L’emancipazione della dissonanza,” Le parole e le cose, 24 September, 2017.  http://www.leparoleelecose.it/?p=29059.
  • “Michelstaedter and Existentialist Authenticity Avant La Lettre:  From Heidegger and Sartre to Simone Weil,” in Storia e storiografia di Carlo Michelstaedter, ed. Valerio Cappozzo (Oxford, MI: University of Mississippi, 2016). Pp. 25-46.
  • “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,” in Inquieto pensare. Scritti in onore di Massimo Cacciari, ed. Emanuele Severino and Vincenzo Vitiello (Brescia: Morcelliana, 2015). Pp. 271-282.
  • “No Novel is an Island:  Damiano Damiani’s L’isola di Arturo,” in Elsa Morante’s Politics of Writing, ed. Stefania Lucamante (Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2015). Pp. 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
  • “Without Precedent:  The Watts Towers,” in Sabato Rodia’s Towers in Watts: Art, Migrations, Development, ed. Luisa Del Giudice (NY: Fordham University Press, 2014). Pp. 91-101 and 432-435.  This is a new edition of the essay cited further below.
  • “Rhetoric of Youth, or Bridges to Nowhere,” Between. Journal of the Italian Association for the Theory and Comparative History of Literature 4:7 (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.
  • “Smaller and Larger Families:  Lina Wertmuller’s The Seduction of Mimi,” in Mafia Movies:  A Reader, ed. Dana Renga (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2011). Pp. 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.
  • “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.
  • “Overcoming Aestheticism,” in Italian Modernism:  Italian Culture between Decadentism and Avant-Garde, ed. Mario Moroni and Luca Somigli (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2004). Pp. 167-190.
  • “Regicide, Parricide and Tyrannicide in Il fu Mattia Pascal:  Stealing from the Father to Give to the Son,” in Luigi Pirandello:  Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Gian-Paolo Biasin and Manuela Gieri (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999). Pp. 189-213.
  • “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). Pp. xi-xvii.

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