Katharine Mitchell


  • 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.


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Personal Statement

I was educated at comprehensive schools in the East Midlands, and worked in Italy during a gap year before studying for a BA (Hons) in Italian with French Languages and Literatures at the University of Leeds. I then taught English in Finland, followed by several years in Arts Administration working for major opera companies in London, Sydney, and Melbourne, while studying for an MA by Research in Italian opera and gender at Leeds. I was awarded my doctoral thesis 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, Cambridge.

I am a gender historian of European literature and culture, with a specialism in middle-class women in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Italy. I carry out research on women performers, writers, readers, spectators and journalists, drawing on studies in celebrity culture, theatre, opera, silent film, print culture and life writings, and see the connection between my active research and teaching as vital for my students. My first book, Italian Women Writers: Gender and Everyday Life in Fiction and Journalism, 1870-1910  was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2014 and won a Finalist place in the Edinburgh Gadda Prize 2019 (Vittorio Group). Currently, I am writing my second monograph on the emergence of a feminine gaze among middle-class theatre, opera, and silent screen spectators of the melodramatic mode (forthcoming in 2021 with Routledge).

At Strathclyde, I am Director of Internationalisation for the School of Humanities, a member of the University's Feminist Network, and regularly discuss gender equality issues on BBC Radio Scotland. I was a member of the AHRC's Peer Review College from 2012-20, and recently I was elected to the Society for Italian Studies Executive Committee. I also currently sit on the University Senate and Court committees, and coordinate the University's Society & Policy research theme sub-theme Communication, Language and Translation.

In 2018, I was the PI 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, and in 2020 published a thematic Research Framework as the director of the Scottish Network for Nineteenth-Century European Cultures under the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework. In 2019, I was Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford (St. Catherine's College, Hilary Term; Harris Manchester College, Trinity Term).

I welcome prospective MRes and PhD students in any aspect of modern Italian or European history and/or literature, particularly in relation to women and gender.

Research Interests

My interdisciplinary research specialism on Italian middle-class women as agents of cultural and social change (e.g. as writers, performing artists, readers and spectators) draws on gender studies, women's studies, literary studies, opera studies, theatre studies, feminist film studies and cultural studies in late C19th and early C20th Italy and beyond (France, Britain and North America).

I am the author of Italian Women Writers: Gender and Everyday Life in Fiction and Journalism, 1870-1910 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014), which won a Finalist place in the 2019 Edinburgh Gadda Prize (Vittorio Group, out of 54 entrants). I am co-editor of Women and Gender in Post-Unification Italy (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013), and of special issues of the journal Italian Studies on The Diva in Modern Italian Culture (2015) and The Italianist (Rethinking Neera, 2010).

I am currently writing my second monograph entitled Gender, Writing, Spectatorships: Historical Evenings Out at the Theatre, Opera and Silent Screen in Italy and Beyond, 1880-1916 (forthcoming with Routledge) and collaborating with Dr Ursula Fanning (UCD, Ireland) and Prof. Gabriella Romani (Seton Hall University, NJ) on an edited book to be published with Classique Garniers in 2020, titled Matilde Serao: International Profile, Reception, and Networks.

In 2018, I was Principal Investigator on the RSE-funded project 'Establishing SNNEC: Scotland and Europe Then (1789-1914) and Now', which hosted a series of academic and public workshops and events and established the Scottish Network for Nineteenth-Century European Cultures. I am also working in collaboration with Prof. Gabriella Romani, Dr Morena Corradi (Queen's, CUNY) and Dr Silvia Valisa (Florida State University) to co-found the Interdisciplinary Network for Nineteenth-Century Italian Studies.

During Semester 2 of 2018-19, I held two Visiting Fellowships at the University of Oxford (at St. Catherine's College, Hilary Term, and at Harris Manchester College, Trinity Term).

Research publications since REF 2014

'Priming Spectators for Pirandello's Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore (1921) through Puccini from 1884', in Pirandello studies 37 (2017)

with Danielle Hipkins, ‘Le traviate: Suffering heroines and the Italian state between the 19th and 21st centuries’ in Prostitution and Sex Work in Global Visual Media: New Takes on Fallen Women, eds Danielle Hipkins and Kate Taylor (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 195-217

'Ottocento Italian Dive Between the Woman's Stage and Page’ in Women and the Public Sphere in Modern and Contemporary Italy. Essays for Sharon Wood, eds Simona Storchi, Marina Spunta and Maria Morelli (Leicester: Troubadour, 2017), 1-13

‘Evenings Out: Female Spectators of Opera and Theatre in Late Nineteenth-Century Italy’, eds Jennifer Burns and Gabriella Romani, The Formation of a National Audience: Readers and Spectators in Italy, 1750-1890 (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2017), 259-80

‘Beauty Italian Style: Gendered imaginings of, and responses to, stage divas in early post-Unification literary culture’, in ‘The Diva in Modern Italian Culture’, eds, Katharine Mitchell and Clorinda Donato, special issue of Italian Studies 70:3, (2015), 330-46

with Clorinda Donato, eds, ‘The Diva in Modern Italian Culture’, special issue of Italian Studies 70:3 (2015)

‘Literary and Epistolary Figurations of Female Desire in Early Post-Unification Italy, 1861-1914’ in Italian Sexualities Uncovered: The Long Nineteenth Century,eds, Valeria Babini, Chiara Beccalossi, and Lucy Riall (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

Italian Women Writers: Gender and Everyday Life in Fiction and Journalism, 1870-1910 (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2014) -- ‘In this groundbreaking study, Mitchell analyzes some domestic fiction and some non-fiction pieces – especially journalism and essays – of three middleclass Italian women who were professionally active between 1870 and 1910’. (C. De Santi, Choice Magazine, vol 52:2 (2015)

Forthcoming research publications 

Gender, Writing, Spectatorships: Evenings Out at the Theatre, Opera, and Silent Screen in Late Nineteenth Century Italy and Beyond (Routledge, 2021)

‘Pleasuring Women Spectators: Historical Responses in French Periodicals to the Parisian Staging of Matilde Serao’s Dopo il perdono (1907, adapted with Pierre Decourcelle)’, in Matilde Serao: International Profile, Reception, and Networks, eds Ursula Fanning, Gabriella Romani and Katharine Mitchell (Paris: Classique Garniers, 2020/21)

‘Envoicing’ Women on Page, Stage, and Screen in Early Post-Unification Italy’, in ‘Con Altra Voce:Echi, variazioni e dissonanze nell'espressione letteraria’, eds G. Bassi, I. Duretto, A. Hijazin, M. Riccobono and F. RossiEdizioni della Normale (Pisa) 

Matilde Serao: International Profile, Reception, and Networks, eds Gabriella Romani, Ursula Fanning and Katharine Mitchell (Paris: Classiques Garniers, 2020)


Teaching Interests

I am convenor of all Level 3 classes and teach undergraduate and postgraduate classes on celebrity culture, theatre, opera and film spectatorships, and women writers in post-Unification Italy. I also teach Italian writing skills at Level 3 and translation into English at Honours level.

Taught Undergraduate Classes

Yr 1: Basic Italian Language; Italian Literature and Film.

Yr 2: Translation into English

Yr 3: Writing in Italian; Italian Stage and Screen; Gender and Celebrity Culture; Italian History Through Film.

Yr 4: Women, Celebrity Culture, and Emancipation in Post-Unification Italy; Translation into English; Gender and Celebrity Culture; Italian History Through Film

Taught Postgraduate Classes

MSc in Interdisciplinary English Studies module: Writers, Female Performers and Audiences in the Long Nineteenth Century, 1789-1914

MSc in Applied Gender Studies (2018-ongoing) class: Gender and Employment in Italy

Research Student

Francesca Marsciullo - AHRC-funded MRes (2019-20): 'Denied and Disowned Motherhood in the works of Dacia Maraini and Annie Ernaux'


Expertise & Capabilities

  • 19th & 20th-century Italian middle-class women writers 
  • Italian tragic realist opera and the figure of the diva
  • Literary and cultural representations of gender & sexuality
  • 19th & early 20th-century celebrity culture, including theatre, opera and silent film spectatorships
  • Scottish and European transnational and inter-cultural exchanges and connections in the long nineteenth century

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Warwick

1 Oct 200327 Apr 2007

Award Date: 27 Apr 2007

Master of Research, University of Leeds

1 Oct 200030 Jun 2002

Award Date: 14 Aug 2002

Bachelor of Arts, University of Leeds

2 Sep 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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