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.

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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 Literatures and Languages 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 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.

I am a gender, media, literary and cultural scholar with a specialism in Italian middle-class women's everyday lives from the 1870s to the 1920s. 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 (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). My second monograph, Gender, Writing, Spectatorships: Evenings at the Theatre, Opera and Silent Screen in Late Nineteenth Century Italy and Beyond (Routledge), will be published in September 2021. It 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.  

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 2021, I was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

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 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, women's studies, literary studies, opera studies, theatre studies, media 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 Gender, Writing, Spectatorships: Evenings at the Theatre, Opera and Silent Screen in Late Nineteeth Century Italy and Beyond (London: Routledge, 2021 forthcoming) and Italian Women Writers: Gender and Everyday Life in Fiction and Journalism, 1870-1910 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014). I am also co-editor of Matilde Serao: International Profile, Reception, and Networks (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2021 forthcoming), Women and Gender in Post-Unification Italy (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013), and co-guest editor of special issues of the journal Italian Studies on The Diva in Modern Italian Culture (2015) and The Italianist (Rethinking Neera, 2010).

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. In 2019, together with Prof. Gabriella Romani, Dr Morena Corradi (Queen's, CUNY) and Dr Silvia Valisa (Florida State University), I founded the Interdisciplinary Network for Nineteenth-Century Italian Studies.

I have held four prestigious Visiting Fellowships, including at the University of Oxford (2019 - at St. Catherine's College, Hilary Term, and at Harris Manchester College, Trinity Term), Seton Hall University, New Jersey (2014), and the University of Bologna (2014). 

Teaching Interests

I teach undergraduate and postgraduate classes on gender, celebrity culture, theatre, opera and film spectatorships, as well as translation. 

Expertise & Capabilities

  • Gender and Feminism in Italy
  • Fallen Women
  • Female Spectatorships
  • Celebrity Culture
  • Nineteenth-Century Transnationalisms

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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