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Research Expertise and Interest

Renaissance Europe, early modern Europe, Atlantic History, History of Books and Reading, colonialism, history of science and technology

Research Description

Diego Pirillo (Ph.D., Scuola Normale Superiore) is Associate Professor of Italian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently serving as the director of REMS, the Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (, and he is affiliated faculty in the Center for the Study of Religion, the Institute of European Studies, and the Program in Critical Theory.

His work focuses on early modern Italy, Europe, and the Atlantic world, with a strong interest in intellectual history, the history of books and reading, religious and migration studies, and the history of diplomacy and political thought. In addition to Renaissance and early modern studies, Professor Pirillo is also interested in modern Italian intellectual history (including Croce, Gramsci, Italian theory). He has been a fellow at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, and his work has been supported by many institutions (The John Carter Brown Library, the American Philosophical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, The Hellman Foundation, The UC Berkeley Institute of International Studies, the Newberry Library, The Rare Book School at UVA, and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, among others).

In addition to many articles and book chapters, he has published two books and two edited volumes. His latest book The Refugee-Diplomat: Venice, England and the Reformation (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2018, awarded the 2019 MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies). 

He is currently working on two new book projects. The first is entitled 'The Atlantic Republic of Letters: Knowledge and Colonialism in the Age of Franklin' (forthcoming with the University of Pennsylvania Press), engages with the transnational history of books, readers, and information and studies the transatlantic circulation of knowledge in the long eighteenth-century, framing the Republic of Letters as an international community that stretched across the Old World and the New just as it traversed religious borders in confessional Europe.

The second book project is entitled 'Renaissance Refugees: Religious Displacement in Early Modern Italy' (under contract with Cambridge University Press), and comes out of his interest in migration and refugee studies and traces the histories of the many religious minorities who arrived in, passed through, or fled from Italy during the early modern period, including Byzantine émigrés, Sephardic Jews, Italian philo-Protestants, English Catholics, and Moriscos.

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