Peter Carravetta

Alfonse M. D'Amato Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies.
Department of European Languages and Literatures
Stony Brook University

Academic Interests:

Italian and French Critical Theory, Postmodernism, Italian American Studies, Migration and Post-Colonial Studies,Early Modern Europe, Poetics.


Ph.D., New York University, 1983 (Thesis title: The Problem of Method and the Hermeneutic Perspective); 

M.A. in Italian, City College/CUNY, 1975; 

B.A. in English, City College/CUNY, 1973. 

Studies in aesthetics and poetics at University of Bologna (1973-74) and linguistics and comparative literature at University of Chicago (1975-76)



Theory, Methods and History of Interpretation (in literature, philosophy, history); Italian Literary History;  Postmodernism, Technology and the Arts; Italian-American Studies; Hermeneutics and Semiotics; Post‑Colonial Critique; Migration Studies; Early-Modern and Contemporary European Thought; Geography and History; Global & Interdisciplinary Studies; Translation Studies; Travel Literature; Contemporary Poetics.


Fulbright Senior Lectureship Award, Madrid, Spain, Spring 2003.

President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Queens College, October 2001.

U.S. Department of Education two‑year Title VI Grant to renew World Studies Program, Languages and Cultures in Global Education, Co‑Director, 1997‑99.

Grants from Board of Education  (NYC), co‑directed with Jack Zevin (Dept.of Sec. Ed.) East Meets West, and Global Studies in the Humanities, to train  28 English &  Social Studies High School teachers, Spring semesters 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000

Eleven  PSC/CUNY Research Awards (summer grants) between 1987 and 2005 for research on Italian philosophy, postmodernism, colonialism in Africa, and migration.

Fulbright Junior Research Grant, Rome, Italy, January‑June 1991

American Philosophical Society travel grant to conduct research in Turin (1986) on contemporary Italian philosophy

Penfield Fellowship, thesis research, New York Univ., 1979

Martin Luther King, Jr., Fellowship, New York Univ., 1977

COURSES (most often taught)

Introduction to Literary Criticism

The Philosophy of Interpretation

Eco and Foucault; Postmodernism

The Enlightenment and Vico

Encounters between Civilizations

Twentieth Century Poetry

Literature and Politics

Italian American Literature

Various Topics in Italian area studies from nationalist prose to avantgardism to colonialism

The Formation of European Identities

American Poetics and Criticism

Great Books in Translation


--The Elusive Hermes. Method, Discourse, Interpreting (Aurora (CO), Davies Group Publishing, 2012; 486 pp). Entirely rewritten and augmented versions of the 1996 Il fantasma di Hermes, and the 2002 Dei parlanti, this book is a general theory of interpretation that explores the co-enabling relation between method and rhetoric, and is anchored on the trichotomy Interpreter, Work, Interpreting process. Tested through additional studies on Sophists, Hegel, Peirce, and contemporary authors on the philosophy of rhetoric.

-- Sulle tracce di Hermes. Migrare, narrare, riorientarsi (Milano, Morellini, 2012; 192 pp). Three long papers dealing with the phenomenology of the journey, the theory of migration (transl. from English), and the origins of Italian emigration to the United States. Previously published and now expanded, with Introduction.

Del postmoderno. Critica e cultura in America all'alba del Duemila (Milano, Bompiani, 2009; 620 pages) Studies in Poetics, Politics and the Future of Critique, with chapters on the schools of criticism which dealt with postmodernism, cultural to post-colonial studies, feminism, new historicism, reception theory, poetics, higher education, ethnic boundaries, globalization, utopias, continental philosophy and the writing of history. It includes 25 Theses on the sense of Postmodernity

- Dei Parlanti. Studi e ipotesi su metodo e retorica dell’interpretare. Torino: Marcovalerio, 2002 (300 pp). Continuation & conclusion of Hermes project (see next entry), with studies in the rhetorical hermeneutics present in the work of  Hartman, Pareyson, Ricoeur, Vico)  

‑  Il fantasma di Hermes. Saggio su metodo, retorica, interpretare Lecce: Milella, 1996 (420 pp.) New analyses of the notions of method, theory and rhetoric, and implications for hermeneutics; from Aristotle and Plato and through Descartes, Husserl, Gadamer, Perelman, De Man; English version ready by summer 2007). 

Prefaces to the Diaphora. Rhetorics, Allegory, and the Interpretation of Postmodernity. W. Lafayette: Purdue Univ. Press, 1991 (350 pp). With studies on avant-gardes vs postmodernism, a rethinking of rhetoric and allegory through Nietzsche, D'Annunzio, Vattimo, Lyotard, Vico and Heidegger. 

Co‑Edited Books 

Poesaggio. Poeti italiani d'America (with P. Valesio). Treviso: Pagus, 1994 (302 pp; wrote Introduction, poems, and essay on poetics. First assemblage of 12 Italian poets living in the US). 

Postmoderno e letteratura. Percorsi e visioni della critica in America (with P. Spedicato). Milano: Bompiani, 1984 (340 pp; chapter on Yale Critics, translated four of 14 authors). 

Translated Books 

ANAPHILOSOPHIA by Martino Oberto.  Bilingual Edition.  Udine: Campanotto, 1993  (transl. from rare 1975 Futura edition, with essay "High Fidelity", pp. 530‑38).  

Flavia Pankiewicz, Eclissi Americane/American Eclipses.W.Lafayette, Bordighera, 1999. Bilingual Edition, 60 pp.  

-  Gian Carlo Pagliasso, Déjà Chimera. Writings 1987‑1990,  Editions d’Afrique du Nord, Tanger, 2001, Bilingual edition, 96 pp. 

Works Edited 

Founding Editor of DIFFERENTIA review of Italian Thought, studies, essays, reviews, art

No. 1, 1986, 326 pp.;  “The Place(s) of the Subject”

No. 2, 1988, 336 pp.;

No. 3/4, 1989, 400 pp.; “Modernity/Postmodernity, Humanism”

No. 5, 1991, 232 pp.;  “Language and Logic”

No. 6/7, 1994, 340 pp.; “On Italian/American Culture”

No. 8/9 1999, 448 pp.;  

"Poessay VI: Voices from the Italian Diaspora, " in RLA. Romance Languages Annual, West Lafayette (IN) : Purdue Research Foundation, 1991:13‑42.

"Poessay IV: Italian and Italian/American Poets in America," with "Introduction,"  in RLA. Romance Languages Annual, W. Lafayette (IN) Purdue Research Foundation, 1990:7‑27.

Selected papers from Symposium on "The Critique of Ideology and Hermeneutics in Contemporary Italian Thought" (NYU, Nov. 1983) in Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal. Vol. 10, No. 1 (Spring 1985):99‑177 (with T. Harrison). 

Book in press 

The Elusive Hermes. Method, Discourse, and the Critique of Interpretation (Aurora (CO), The Davis Group Publishers, 2010). A complete rewriting and augmentation of the 1996 book Il fantasma di Hermes, this work proposes a radically new theory of interpretation predicated upon the primacy of discourse as founding and co-enabling element of the indissoluble bond between method and theory in any critical enterprise. It offers the first sustained critique of method from the Presocratics and the Sophists down to Perelman, Ricoeur, Grassi and Foucault.

Open the following file for a complete bibliography: Carravetta Bibliography.docx