Thank you, New York Times, for giving us some Franco Moretti. He is featured in the Times because of his idea of "text-free literary scholarship" which would involve analyzing all books that have been (and are) published as data points, guessing that things like gender shifts, the elevation of the novel, the gentrification, etc., are part of the same literary cycle. Next up for literature grad students: Brushing up on your Powerpoint skills.
As for Gothamist's interest, Moretti, current English and comparative literature professor at Stanford, used to teach at Columbia. Even though he cut an imposing figure as professor, everyone seemed to love him. Maybe it was because you could imagine him being played by Jean Reno (right) in the action film, "Comp Lit!"
Interestingly enough, Moretti's brother, Nanni, is a film director. He directed Caro Diario and The Son's Room.