Maurizio Viroli is retiring this year after twenty-six years on the faculty of the Department of Politics. He is a scholar of political theory and the history of political thought. He combines an interest in the analysis of theoretical texts with a concern for the historical setting in which these texts originate and to which they respond. An expert on Jean Jacques Rousseau, Niccolò Machiavelli, and the relationship between religion and politics, Maurizio has published numerous books, which have been translated into a variety of languages.
Maurizio attended the University of Bologna, where he graduated in 1976 with a Laurea degree in philosophy. In 1985, he received his Ph.D. in social and political sciences from the European University Institute in Florence. His dissertation on Rousseau’s political thought (originally written in French) was published by Cambridge University Press in 1988 as Jean Jacques Rousseau and the Well-Ordered Society.
Following fellowships at Cambridge University (Clare Hall) and the European University Institute (Florence), Maurizio came to Princeton in 1987 as an assistant professor of politics. In 1990, the University named him to a Bicentennial Preceptorship (the Arthur H. Scribner Preceptorship). In 1993, he was promoted to associate professor, and, in 1997, he was promoted to the rank of full professor. Throughout his years at Princeton, Maurizio has held visiting faculty or fellowship positions at a variety of other institutions, including Georgetown University, the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, the University of Trento, and the University of Ferrara, among others. Currently, Maurizio also holds an appointment with the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano, Switzerland, as director of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies and professor of political communication. Starting in 2013, Maurizio will begin teaching political theory every fall term at the University of Texas–Austin, while retaining his appointment in Lugano.
Maurizio served as an adviser to the president of the Italian Republic during the presidency of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi (1999-2006), and on May 30, 2001, he was appointed Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito of the Italian Republic. An out-of-state panel of humanists chose Maurizio to receive a New Jersey Governor’s Fellowship in the Humanities in 1989, in recognition of outstanding past scholarly achievements and in anticipation of major contributions to knowledge, understanding and learning in the humanities. In 2002, President Shirley M. Tilghman named Maurizio a Cotsen Faculty Fellow in recognition of his outstanding teaching of undergraduates. His many professional activities throughout his career have included roles as a consultant, newspaper contributor, and coordinator for such events as the USA-Europe Locarno Seminar on Politics and Society (1994-1996) and such committees as the National Committee for the Improvement of the Republican Culture within the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Maurizio’s numerous books include From Politics to Reason of State: The Acquisition and Transformation of the Language of Politics (1250-1600) (1992); For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism (1995); Niccolò’s Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli (1999), which was designated a 2001 Honor Book by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities; Machiavelli’s God (2006); The Liberty of Servants: Berlusconi’s Italy (2011); and As If God Existed: Religion and Liberty in the History of Italy (2012).