Maristella de Panizza Lorch was educated first in a classical school in the Alto Adige-Sudtirol between the two world wars. She earned a doctorate in classical philology in 1942 at the University of Rome with the Accademico d’Italia Professor Vincenzo Ussani, Sr. After fifty years of teaching, she is now Professor Emerita of Italian and Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Barnard and Columbia.
Among her books: the critical edition of Lorenzo Valla’s De Voluptate (1431-44), its English translation On Pleasure, the edition of Ziliolo Zilioli’s Michaelida (1431), A Defense of Life (a study of Renaissance Epicureanism) and, with the philosopher Ernesto Grassi, Folly and Insanity in Renaissance Literature, an interpretation of humanistic literature and chivalric poetry. Albert Rabil’s four-volume collection of essays on Renaissance Humanism was dedicated to her in recognition of her promotion of Medieval and Renaissance Studies in America.
Maristella Lorch is known at Columbia for her courses (given throughout fifty years in English) on Dante, Petrarca, Renaissance Humanism, Renaissance Theatre, Machiavelli and Ariosto; in Europe, particularly Italy and France, as an active promoter of international exchange. She founded and directed the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Center for Italian Studies, the Center for International Scholarly Exchange, and the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America (1991). She founded La Scuola New York Guglielmo Marconi, is a member of the Advisory Board of the Lycee Francais de New York, Vice-President of EPIC (the fellowship of Emeriti Professors in Columbia), and was until recently a teaching faculty member in the M.A. in Liberal Arts Program at Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Since 1996, as Founding Director Emerita of the Academy for Advanced Studies, she has completed a memoir trilogy based on her Euro-American identity (she recently published the third volume, The Other Shore) while at the same time offering courses for adults on Dante, Homer, Virgil, and Ovid.