Anthony DiRenzo

Anthony DiRenzo

Professor, Department of Writing
Faculty, School of Humanities and Sciences

Specialty:Professional and Technical Writing (PTW)
Phone:(607) 274-3614
Office:426 Smiddy Hall
Ithaca, NY 14850


As a teacher, I specialize in classical rhetoric and professional writing. As a writer, I chronicle a fading world—a notary public recording depositions from immigrant ghosts. My work forms an open coroner's inquest in which an entire community examines the overwhelming evidence of its own demise and asks if it was murder, suicide, or accidental death. This ghastly business is relieved only by the participants' sardonic humor. Culturecide does that, turns ordinary people into self-mocking skeletons. Each time I press a keyboard, I hear the rattle of bones.

Guilt and grief haunt me. When I worked in advertising in the early eighties, I learned how capitalism transubstantiates bits and pieces of my heritage into bumper stickers, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and fast food. Such commodification parodies the Eucharist and borders on cannibalism. One campaign for Hormel Heartland Hard Salami, in fact, used Lewis Hine's classic photos of Ellis Island to package immigrants as cold cuts. The free market may serve the American Dream but it also consumes its consumers.

This Thyestean banquet resembles the cuccagnas of my great-great grandmother's time, those horrible spectacles of greed and hysteria that the Bourbon aristocracy of Naples and Palermo staged for their own amusement. A gigantic bonfire of choice meats, fine desserts, and other delicacies would be assembled in the cathedral square. At a prearranged signal, starving peasants would clamber on this stockpile and try stealing whatever they could, while hooded figures set the heap on fire. Those who escaped being burned could keep whatever they had snatched.

Bigotry and betrayal have made me a satirist in the classical mode. I tend to write about and lecture on American business with the same irony Tacitus reserved for the Caesers. Even the emperor Heliogabulus, who encased his victims in a bronze cow before roasting them alive, was less crass than McDonald's founder Ray Kroc. America, paisan: billions and billions served. Save a burger for Trimalchio.



  • Ph.D. American Literature, Syracuse University, 1990
  • M.A. English, Villanova University, 1986
  • B.S. Telecommunications, Syracuse University, 1982





  • "Quality is Your Right." Finalist in The Normal School 2010 Fiction Contest.
  • "The White City." Forthcoming in The Baffler 20.
  • "Te Deum." Voices in Italian Americana 19.1 (Fall 2008)
  • "Eternal Death." Feile-Festa 3 (Spring 2008)
  • "Risorgimento." Syracuse Scholar  (Fall 1988)
  • "Election Eve." Syracuse Poems and Stories (Winter 1987)
  • "Buon Natale." Il Caffe: An International Journal of Italian Culture (December 1986)
  • "All Souls' Day." Il Caffe (November 1985)

Creative Nonfiction









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School of Humanities and Sciences  ·  201 Muller Center  ·  Ithaca College  ·  Ithaca, NY 14850  ·  (607) 274-3102  ·  Full Directory Listing