Download This Sample
This sample is exclusively for KidsKonnect members!
To download this worksheet, click the button below to signup for free (it only takes a minute) and you'll be brought right back to this page to start the download!
Sign Me Up
Umberto Eco was an Italian author best known for novels that reflect his vast knowledge on subjects such as religion, literature, history, politics, and philosophy. Umberto has also excessively contributed to the science of semiotics through his studies, research, and other academic works.
See the fact file below for more information on the Umberto Eco or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Umberto Eco worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Born in the small town of Alessandria in Northern Italy on January 5, 1932, Umberto was the only son of Giovanna and Giulio Eco, an accountant.
- To escape the bombings during World War II, Umberto and his mother fled to a village in the Piedmontese mountainside, while his father served in the Italian army.
- Eco received primary and secondary education under the Salesian order, and later attended the University of Turin to study Law upon his father’s request who wanted him to become a lawyer.
- However, Eco decided to pursue his interests and soon shifted to a medieval philosophy and literature program, in which he wrote a thesis on St. Thomas Aquinas.
- During his stay at the university, Eco had lost faith in God and confidence in the Roman Catholic Church, so he decided to withdraw from it.
- After earning his doctorate in philosophy degree in 1954, Eco worked as an editor for cultural and historical programs in a state television network, where he was able to gain experience and learn a lot about modern culture and journalism.
- In 1956, he published his first book, The Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas, which was an extension to his doctorate dissertation. Eco also began his teaching career in the same year at the University of Turin.
- Following a brief period of service in the military, he released Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages, an extensive research-based book which gained Eco the reputation of an important medieval scholar.
- He continued working as an editor, this time for a prominent publication company in Milan named Casa Editrice Bompiani. In 1959, he began writing a monthly column of parodies for an avant-garde magazine.
Life in the Academe
- Throughout the 1960s, Eco’s scholarly work began to focus on semiotics, which holds that all intellectual and cultural activities can be interpreted as systems of signs.
- In 1962, he released a book on modern art entitled Opera Aperta (published as The Open Work in 1989), and continued to contribute to a number of academic publications particularly his work on semiotics.
- In this book, Eco argued for his developing view that because modern art is ambiguous and open to many interpretations, one’s responses and interpretations are an essential part of any text.
- He also continued to write for a wide variety of academic and popular publications, and taught at universities in Florence and Milan while broadening his interests to include the semiotic analysis of non-literary forms such as architecture, movies, and comic books.
- In 1971, Eco became the first professor of semiotics at Europe’s oldest university, the University of Bologna, and in 1974, he organized the first congress of the International Association for Semiotic Studies.
- Years later, he published a systematic examination of his views in A Theory of Semiotics in 1976.
- Eco’s writing career took a significant new turn in 1978, when he decided to write a detective story at a friend’s invitation. He realized that a novel would be a good way to demonstrate his own literary theories of an “open text” that would provide the reader with almost infinite possibilities for interpretation in the signs and clues the protagonist must decode in order to solve a mystery.
- The Name of the Rose, Eco’s first novel published in 1980, is set in a 14th-century monastery and tells the story of a monk who tries to solve several murders while struggling to defend his quest for the truth against church officials.
- Although the novel gives a murder-mystery feel, in essence, it is a questioning of “truth” from theological, philosophical, scholarly, and historical perspectives.
- The Name of the Rose’s global popularity skyrocketed as it sold more than 10 million copies and was translated into 30 different languages.
- Eco’s second novel, Il pendolo di Foucault (Foucault’s Pendulum), is an even more ambitious attempt to incorporate Eco’s ideas of the limits of interpretation into a mystery story.
- Three editors of a disreputable publishing company in contemporary Milan make up a fake conspiracy theory that the medieval Knights Templar had devised a plan for controlling all the energy in the universe.
- Published in 1988, the book also became a bestseller, although critical reception was mixed. The Vatican’s official newspaper denounced it for its “vulgarities,” and the late Pope John Paul II condemned Eco as “the mystifier deluxe.”
- Eco continued to write controversial pieces and his most recent works include Il Cimitero di Praga, published in 2010, which fictionalizes the creation of a fraudulent document that was claimed to be a plan for Jewish world domination and was used to counteract anti-Semitism.
- In 2015, he released Numero Zero, which centers on a journalist who was hired to work for a mysterious publication of a propaganda.
- Paying homage to Robinson Crusoe, Eco published L’isola del giorno prima (The Island of the Day Before) in 1994 which centers on the story of a seventeenth-century Italian castaway deserted on a ship in the South Pacific, who recalls fragments of his past as he explores the abandoned vessel.
- In the same year, he had also released The Search for the Perfect Language, an account of historical attempts to reconstruct a primal language, and Role of the Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts, in which he describes the “model reader” as “one who plays your game” and accepts the challenge of interpreting complex ideas.
- In addition to running the Program for Communication Sciences at the University of Bologna, he travelled frequently to speak and teach at conferences.
- Eco had became increasingly involved in the discourse of how electronic media and computer technologies will affect culture and society, believing that although the Internet will change the way people read and write, the fundamental problem posed by the new media is the sheer volume of unfiltered information.
- Despite the increasing technological advances, Eco strongly believed that books will remain the fundamental currency of language and will remain essential not only for literature but for “any circumstance in which one needs to read carefully, not only to receive information but also to speculate and reflect about it”.
- Aside from his speaking engagements, Eco also continued to publish scholarly treatises, contributed to several foreign and Italian newspapers, and edited a weekly column for the magazine L’Espresso.
Death and Legacy
- Eco died on the night of February 19, 2016 of pancreatic cancer, from which he had been suffering for two years.
- At the time of his death at the age of 84, Eco was a professor emeritus at the University of Bologna, a position that he had held since 2008.
- Critical of history, modern life, social networks, culture, and journalism, his passion for writing and encouraging critical thinking are the reasons why he is considered to be one of the brightest minds in Europe in the past century.
Umberto Eco Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Umberto Eco across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Umberto Eco worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Umberto Eco who was an Italian author best known for novels that reflect his vast knowledge on subjects such as religion, literature, history, politics, and philosophy. Umberto has also excessively contributed to the science of semiotics through his studies, research, and other academic works.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Authors Online
- Eco’s Pendulum
- Judge by the Cover
- Library Hunt
- Eco’s Echoes
- Eco Vocabulary
- Speak Up!
- My Library
- Mystery Misters
- Think Like Eco
Link/cite this page
If you reference any of the content on this page on your own website, please use the code below to cite this page as the original source.
Link will appear as Umberto Eco Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 20, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.