£1,000 awarded to fund an archival visit to Italy to undertake the project 'Women at the Theatre: Writers as Spectators in Early Post-Unification Italy, 1861-1914'. The study seeks to fill a gap in the existing historiography by identifying and describing a gendered public sphere in which women operated as critical cultural consumers of the theatre performances they attended during the period 1861-1914. It will examine female performance and its consumption as mediated through columns on theatregoing in women's journals, fan letters and diaries housed in archives throughout Italy to identify the beginnings of a female critical community with its own lexicon of cultural criticism by and for women, linking it to the emergence of women writers on the literary scene in the 1870s and the rise of
the movement for female emancipation in the 1890s. The study will demonstrate a burgeoning solidarity among women in the public eye which was specific to nineteenth-century European celebrity culture in contrast to the here and now, and which produced a significant degree of emancipation for female theatregoers, whose lives were typically confined to the domestic sphere.