Bio and CV

I am a philosopher.
I got my first degree (in philosophy, of course) from the University of Bologna in 1984. I wrote a dissertation on the French Enlightenment and more specifically on the ethical theories of the Marquis de Sade. The fun part was spending weeks in Paris at the old Bibliothèque Nationale in Rue Richelieu. The not so fun part was the total lack of jobs for a new philosophy graduate. I waited for a few years for an opening at the University level---or at any level. Not a single one came up in five years. While I was waiting I got my credentials as a high school philosophy teacher, got married, and did 6 months of compulsory military service in the Italian Air Force. I also worked full time for West 80, an Italian software startup that was promoting a brand-new operating system to large corporations: Unix. West 80 was also promoting office automation, personal productivity tools, and relational databases. I did several things while there: I trained people to use DOS, Wordperfect, Word, and Excel, and I trained other, and not so much younger people on how to use Logo in ways that did not involve any kind of graphics. I even tried my hands at professional programming by building a small billing system using Informix, a newly minted relational database management system. That did not worked out too well---programming stops being fun when you have customers. One was one too many for me: in perfect Dilbert style I became a manager and supervised the development and installation of a hypertext-like system for my hometown, Bologna. That was fun and working with an hypertexts in 1987---when the web was still a glimmer in Sir Berners-Lee's eyes--- was kind of leading-edge.
As I said, I am a philosopher. I might have had a career in the software business, but philosophy's pull was much stronger. Since jobs in the Italian academia were still non-existent in 1988, I applied to Ph.D. programs in the United States, a country I had never been to (my preferred foreign location would have been France, but jobs or Ph.D. fellowships were as scarce as in Italy). I got accepted at the University of Illinois where my advisor, Kathleen Akins,  offered me the  (in retrospect, absolutely fortuitous and incredibly lucky) chance to transfer to Xerox PARC for a year. After my first day in the the Bay Area it became clear to me that I was not going to go back to the Midwest. I managed to transfer to Stanford University the following year, and I actually restarted my Ph.D. from square one, while still being an intern at PARC in the Embedded Computation Area led by Brian Cantwell Smith. I had a great time in both places, and gave a serious thought about becoming a student for life. Unfortunately that plan did not pan out and I had to graduate and get a job.
I worked for a couple of years at Stanford teaching philosophical classics to first-year students, while my wife finished her Stanford Ph.D. (she is a scholar in Italian Literature). We all moved to New Zealand when I got a job there, in the wonderful Dept. of Philosophy of the University of Auckland.
But, as I mentioned, I am a philosopher. And philosophers wander (see: Plato). So after a few years in New Zealand I moved to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where I still am (provisionally?) located and where I do my research in the Department of Hispanic Studies.
For a formal CV see here

Stefano-Franchi-CV-November-2013.pdf197.22 KB

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