David Ward

Professor Emeritus of Italian Studies

Pier Paolo Pasolini; Carlo Levi; Piero Gobetti; Italian antifascist culture; 21st century Italian mystery writers; contemporary Italian narrative; postmodern narrative; narrative theory

Professor of Italian in the Department of Italian Studies and Affiliated Faculty Member in the Program in Comparative Literary Studies, David Ward received his B.A. degree (with honors) in English and American Studies from University of East Anglia, Norwich, Great Britain. After a number of years teaching English and translating in Italy, including four years at the Università di Bologna, he came to the United States to pursue graduate studies. He received an M.A. in 1986 and a Ph.D. in 1988 from the Department of Romance Studies, Cornell University. After a year of teaching as a Lecturer in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, he was hired by Wellesley College in 1989, was awarded tenure in 1995 and was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in 2002.

He is author of five books: four in English, A Poetics of Resistance: Narrative and the Writings of Pier Paolo Pasolini (Madison, NJ and London: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1995); Antifascisms: Cultural Politics in Italy, 1943-46 Benedetto Croce and the Liberals, Carlo Levi and the Actionists (Madison, NJ and London: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996); Piero Gobetti's New World: Antifascism, Liberalism, Writing (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010); Contemporary Italian Narrative and 1970s Terrorism: Stranger than Fact (London: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2017); and one in Italian, Carlo Levi: Gli italiani e la paura della libertà (Milan: Rizzoli/Nuova Italia, 2002). He is also co-editor, with Sciltian Gastaldi, of a volume of essays on the writings of the children and relatives of the victims of terrorism, entitled Era mio padre: Italian Terrorism of the Anni di Piombo in the Postmemorials of Victims' Relatives, published in the Italian Modernities series by Peter Lang in 2018.

He has also published several articles and chapters in reviews and collections, including "Intellectuals, Culture and Power in Modern Italy," in The Cambridge Companion to Modern Italian Culture, eds. Zygmunt Baranski and Rebecca West (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 81-96; “Primo Levi’s Turin,” in The Cambridge Companion to Primo Levi, ed. Robert S. Gordon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 1-16, and “Massimo D’Azeglio’s Ettore Fieramosca: The Necessity & Joy of Fiction,” in New Perspectives in Italian Cultural Studies. Volume 2: The Arts and History, ed., Graziella Parati (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Cranbury, N.J., 2012), pp. 3-16.

Professor Ward was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1999.

He has been Chair of the Department of Italian Studies on many occasions and has served as Resident Director of the Eastern College Consortium Program (ECCO) on two occasions, 2006-07 and 2021-22. From the fall semester of 2015 to the spring semester of 2018 he served as interim chair of the French Department.

His scholarship is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on and approaching texts from a variety of sources: literature, history, film, and politics. His latest book--Contemporary Italian Narrative and 1970s Terrorism: Stranger than Fact--is a study of how young contemporary Italian writers, mostly in their 30s and 40s, have risen to the challenge of representing the right- and left-wing terrorism of the 1970s in their novels. He is currently engaged in a project that investigates contemporary Italian collective writing practices.

He teaches across the whole Italian Studies curriculum, from beginning and intermediate language, 200-level courses taught in Italian (The Construction of Italy; Italy in the 1960s; Twenty-First Century Italy) and 300-level courses also taught in Italian (Italian Narrative Tradition; Fascism and Resistance; Italian Mysteries). He has also taught courses ifor the Writing Program, on autobiography and graphic novels, as well as for the Program in Comparative Literary Studies, on postmodern narrative and global crime fiction.

As Chair of the Department of Italian Studies, he has supervised the development and implementation of Wellesley College's online Italian language courses.

He is a Co-Editor for Reviews at the Journal of Modern Italian Studies.

Italian Department Bio

Academia.edu Profile


  • B.A., University of East Anglia (England)
  • M.A., Cornell University
  • Ph.D., Cornell University