• United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I welcome prospective MRes and PhD students in any aspect of modern Italian culture, especially in relation to women and gender and/or contemporary gender issues.

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Personal profile

Personal Statement

I am a feminist media, literary, and cultural studies scholar with a specialism in Italian middle-class women and gender from the 1880s to the 1920s. In 2021 I was elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

I was educated at state schools in the East Midlands, and worked in Italy during a gap year before studying for a BA (Hons) in Italian with French Literatures and Languages at the University of Leeds. I then taught English in Finland, followed by several years working in Arts Administration for major opera companies in London, Sydney, and Melbourne, while studying for an MA by Research in nineteenth-century Italian opera and gender at Leeds. I was awarded my PhD in nineteenth-century Italian women writers from the University of Warwick, and before joining Strathclyde I was a Junior Research Fellow at Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge.

Monographs and edited volumes:

Gender, Writing, Spectatorships: Evenings at the Theatre, Opera and Silent Screen in Late Nineteeth Century Italy and Beyond (London: Routledge, 2022)

Matilde Serao: International Profile, Reception, and Networks (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2022), edited with Gabriella Romani and Ursula Fanning

Italian Women Writers: Gender and Everyday Life in Fiction and Journalism, 1870-1910 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014)

Women and Gender in Post-Unification Italy (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013), edited with Helena Sanson

The Diva in Modern Italian Culture, Italian Studies 70:3 (2015), edited with Clorinda Donato

Rethinking Neera, The Italianist 30, sup. 1 (2010), edited with Catherine Ramsey-Portolano

I have held six prestigious Visiting Fellowships, including at the University of Oxford (Harris Manchester College (Michaelmas Term) 2022; St. Catherine's College (Hilary Term), and at Harris Manchester College (Trinity Term) 2019), Seton Hall University, New Jersey (2014), California State University, Long Beach (2014), and the University of Bologna (2014). I sit on the Editorial Board of Italian Studies and the Advisory Board of Gender/Sexuality/Italy. I was a member of the AHRC's Peer Review College from 2012-20, and in 2021 I was elected to the Society for Italian Studies Executive Committee. I regularly discuss gender equality on BBC Radio Scotland.

In 2018, I was Principal Investigator leading a Royal Society of Edinburgh-funded collaborative project with the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland on Scottish and European inter-cultural and transnational exchanges in the long nineteenth century. Our workshops established the Scottish Network for Nineteenth-Century European Cultures under the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework housed at National Museums of Scotland.

At Strathclyde, I am Deputy Director of Postgraduate Research for the Department of Humanities, a member of the University's Feminist Network and coordinator of the University's Society & Policy research theme sub-theme Communication, Language and Translation.

I would welcome MRes/MPhil/PhD proposals in the following areas: 

  • Spectatorship (in film, television, advertising)
  • Gender and celebrity culture
  • Feminism and/or postfeminism in media (film, television, narrative literature)
  • Women screenwriters and the ‘female gaze’

Research Interests

My interdisciplinary research on Italian middle-class women as protagonists, performers and spectators (of "women's opera, theatre and silent film" in the context of melodrama), draws on gender studies, cultural studies, women's studies, literary studies, opera studies, theatre studies, media studies and feminist film studies in late C19th and early C20th Italy and beyond (France, Britain and North America). I also have interests in contemporary celebrity culture and gender, as well as gender issues in the media.

I am currently working on the first cohort of female screenwriters in modern Italy, drawing on archival material evidence in film and women's journals, as well as accounts of stars and evidence in life writings (diaries, letters, biographies and autobiographies) from the 1910s to the 1920s.

My most recent book, Gender, Writing, Spectatorships: Evenings at the Theatre, Opera and Silent Screen in Late Nineteenth-Century Italy and Beyond (London: Routledge, 2022) examines middle-class Italian women as protagonists and consumers of literature, theatre, opera, and film. Using personal writing, journalism, and canonical texts, it analyses female performance and women’s responses. Its interdisciplinary analysis of female relationships involving admiration illuminates a vibrant Italian female culture industry during early feminism.

My first book, Italian Women Writers: Gender and Everyday Life in Fiction and Journalism, 1870-1910 (University of Toronto Press, 2014), adopted a new historicist approach to look at the domestic fiction and journalism of three of the most significant women writers of the period (La Marchesa Colombi; Neera; Matilde Serao). I showed how in spite of their anti-feminist public declarations, their work offered an implicit feminist intervention and a legitimate means of approaching and engaging with the burning social and political issues of the day regarding the "woman question". It won a Finalist place in the Edinburgh Gadda Prize 2019 (Vittorio Group). 

Teaching Interests

I teach and supervise across undergraduate and postgraduate classes/projects in Italian, Journalism, Media and Communication on gender issues in the media, celebrity culture, Italian film and women's writings.

I have over 20 years’ experience of teaching Italian literature, culture, and language in UK Universities (Leeds, 2000-01; Warwick, 2003-8; Manchester, 2008; Cambridge, 2008-10; Strathclyde, 2011-). In 2021, I was nominated by my students for my fourth Strathclyde Students’ Union Teaching Excellence Award (previous nominations were in 2012; 2013; 2017 & 2021) and for a HaSS Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in the category ‘Effective Sustained Contribution’.

I am External Examiner in Italian at Royal Holloway, University of London, and have externally examined MPhil theses at the University of Glasgow, (2019) the University of Birmingham (2022) and the University of Kent (2023). I have co-supervised to completion (50%) an MRes dissertation on 'Denied and Disowned Motherhood in the Works of Annie Ernaux and Dacia Maraini'. I regularly supervise Masters dissertations for the MLitt in Media & Communications and the MSc in Applied Gender Studies.

I have taught classes internationally at California State University, Long Beach, at Seton Hall University, New Jersey, in the United States, and at the University of Naples, "Federico II", Italy.

Expertise & Capabilities

  • Gender and Feminisms 
  • Female Screenwriters in Early Italian Film
  • The 'Fallen Woman' archetype in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century
  • Spectatorships
  • Celebrity Culture

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Between Domestic Realist Fiction and Journalism: La Marchesa Colombi, Neera, Matilde Serao (1866-1910), University of Warwick

1 Oct 200327 Apr 2007

Award Date: 27 Apr 2007

Master of Research, Female Role Models in Italian Tragic Opera from Rossini to Puccini (Part-time), University of Leeds

1 Oct 200030 Jun 2002

Award Date: 14 Aug 2002

Bachelor of Arts, Italian with French Languages and Literatures, University of Leeds

2 Sept 199530 Jun 1999

Award Date: 14 Jul 1999

External positions

Junior Research Fellow, University of Cambridge

1 Oct 20088 Jan 2011


  • Italian women writers
  • Italian tragic opera
  • representations of gender & sexuality in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italian culture
  • domestic fiction
  • female performers
  • feminine spectatorships
  • journalism
  • melodrama
  • realist fiction


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