It is with great sadness that the Faculty has to bring you news of the recent death of John Woodhouse, a Faculty member from the 1970s to his retirement in 2001, former Fellow of St Cross, Pembroke and Magdalen Colleges, and Fiat Serena Professor of Italian from 1990 to 2001.
John was a generous and loyal colleague and will be remembered as a gifted lecturer, a devoted tutor and supervisor, and a prolific researcher in several fields of Italian studies. He was Oxford’s first Fiat Serena Professor of Italian, as the Chair was then known (later the nomenclature was modified to become the Agnelli Serena Professorship), and he played a key role in securing the funding that allowed Oxford’s Italian Chair to be ‘unfrozen’.
He was also the founder and Chair of The Oxford Italian Association (TOIA), which organizes lectures and events for Italophiles in the University and in the wider community in Oxford. His scholarship was extraordinarily wide-ranging, with major volumes on Renaissance writers (Castiglione, Borghini) and on modern authors: he was the first to write a monograph in English on Italo Calvino, and in the latter part of his career he became an authority on Gabriele Rossetti and Gabriele D’Annunzio of whom he wrote a major biography.
Not surprisingly, his expertise was recognized with a number of honours and prizes: he was a Fellow of the British Academy, a member of Italy’s prestigious Accademia della Crusca, and he did sterling service for the Society for Italian Studies and the Modern Humanities Research Association.
His legacy lives on in his many learned books and in the several brilliant doctoral students he supervised who subsequently went on to have major academic careers.