About me

Luca Cottini 1

Associate Professor of Italian Studies – Italian Studies Program, Villanova University, 800 E Lancaster Ave., SAC 339, Villanova PA 19085 luca.cottini@villanova.edu (610) 519-3763


Luca Cottini is a scholar of modern Italian Literature, and a cultural historian. He received his training in Classical Philology and Literary Criticism at University of Milan (BA, 2003) and he specialized – at Notre Dame (MA, 2007) and Harvard (PhD, 2012) – in Italian modernist literature, and in the early industrial culture. He also holds a certificate in Digital Marketing from the Yale School of Management (2020).

His research on the 19th and 20th centuries combines a traditional literary focus (on authors like D’Annunzio, De Amicis, Pirandello, Palazzeschi, Marinetti, Papini, Alvaro, Calvino, Fenoglio, and Pavese) with a broader interdisciplinary horizon, including visual studies (on Italian early photography, abstract painting, and silent cinema), social history (the reception of industrialism, the development of advertising and early industrial design), innovation studies, and entrepreneurial strategy.

His book I passaggi obbligati di Italo Calvino. Autobiografia, memoria, identità (Longo 2017) makes a compelling case about the unity of Calvino’s unfinished autobiography, later published as La strada di San Giovanni.

His second book, The Art of Objects. The Birth of Italian Industrial Culture, 1878-1928 (University of Toronto Press, 2018) focuses on the emergence of industrial modernity in Italy at the turn of the 20th century. His method consists in observing this culture from the perspective of its iconic objects of mass consumption, as they create new social practices, and as they shape, in ads and in the arts, a new imagery of the modern.

His third book, Il fabbricante di cioccolato. Nel mondo di Michele Ferrero (Piemme, 2023), is a biography of chocolate tycoon Michele Ferrero. The book reconstructs the cultural and entrepreneurial roots of Ferrero, combining literary imagination and business strategy, and explores the creative process that underlies the company’s most successful products (from Nutella to Rocher, from Mon Cheri to the Kinder Egg).

Luca Cottini is also the host and creator of the YouTube show “Italian Innovators“, featuring profiles of great Italian entrepreneurs and industry pioneers in the fields of science, technology, design, music, and education, interviews with leading Italian academics and entrepreneurs, and lessons of Italian cultural history and modernity.

He is regularly invited as a speaker in academic and corporate venues, and as a contributor or interviewee in the Italian and American press and media.