Leonard Barkan is the Class of 1943 University Professor and chair of the Department of Comparative Literature. He has been a professor of English and of art history at universities including Northwestern, Michigan, and N.Y.U. Among his books are The Gods Made Flesh: Metamorphosis and the Pursuit of Paganism; Transuming Passion: Ganymede and the Erotics of Humanism; and Unearthing the Past: Archaeology and Aesthetics in the Making of Renaissance Culture, which won prizes from the Modern Language Association, the College Art Association, the American Comparative Literature Association, Phi Beta Kappa, and the PEN America Center. He is the winner of the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Barkan has been an actor and a director; he is also a regular contributor to publications in both the United States and Italy, where he writes on the subject of food and wine. In 2006 he published Satyr Square, which is an account of art, literature, food, wine, Italy, and himself. Recent publications include Michelangelo on Paper, recording the life of the artist via the sheets of paper on which he both wrote and drew, and Mute Poetry, Speaking Pictures, a study of the relations among words, images, and pleasure from Plato to the Renaissance. He is currently writing a book about the relations between food culture and high culture from antiquity to the Renaissance and another, not so scholarly book about his love for the city of Berlin. At Princeton, he has taught courses on subjects including Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Narcissus, word and image, and comedy.