Dr Katharine Mitchell

Senior Lecturer



Personal statement

I am a feminist, interdisciplinary nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Italian literature scholar. I study actual and imagined women performers (screen)writers, readers, spectators, through close reading and analysis of their texts, including archival materials, such as journals, newspaper cuttings, letters, and diaries, and draw on a range of studies and theoretical frameworks in literature, film, media, theatre, poetry, and opera to interpret my findings (e.g., new historicism, and feminist literary and media theory).

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 literature 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), co-edited;

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), co-edited;

The Diva in Modern Italian Culture, Italian Studies 70:3 (2015), co-edited;

Rethinking Neera, The Italianist 30:1 (2010), co-edited.

I have held five prestigious Visiting Fellowships, including two at the University of Oxford (Harris Manchester College, Michaelmas Term, 2022 & Trinity Term, 2019; St. Catherine's College, Hilary 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 am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

I welcome MRes/MPhil/PhD proposals in nineteenth- and twentieth-century film, television, theatre, opera, narrative fiction, life writing & print media in the following areas: 

  • Spectatorship/audiences/readers;
  • Gender and celebrity culture;
  • Feminism and/or postfeminism;
  • Women screenwriters and the ‘female gaze’.

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I teach and supervise across undergraduate and postgraduate classes/projects in Journalism, Media and Communication and on an undergraduate elective and the CCEd in Italian.

I have over 23 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 supervised to completion an MRes on 'Denied and Disowned Motherhood in the Works of Annie Ernaux and Dacia Maraini' (2021) and I am currently supervising an MPhil on 'British Military Bands in Nineteenth-Century Scotland'.

I regularly supervise Masters dissertations for the MLitt in Media & Communications and the MSc in Applied Gender Studies.

I have guest-taught seminars and lectures nationally and internationally at California State University, Long Beach (2014), Seton Hall University, New Jersey (2014), Columbia University (2016), the University of Naples, "Federico II" (2021), and at the University of Oxford (2022).

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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). 

Professional Activities

Society for Italian Studies Interim Themed Conference
‘In Search of Girl Methods in Liberal Italy’ and ‘Meanness & Other Affects in Italian Domestic Fiction’
Invited speaker
'The (Anti?) Feminism of Matilde Serao?', ‘1922-2022: Italy One Hundred Years Later. Femminismi di destra’, Inaugural 'Giornata di studio' of the American Association for Italian Studies
Invited speaker
‘Matilde Serao, Screenwriter?’ Student-led one-day event to discuss work in progress at Harris Manchester College, Oxford
Modern Language Association International Symposium
Modern Language Association International Symposium

More professional activities


RSE-funded Workshop Grant 2018 - £8,000
Mitchell, Kate (Principal Investigator)
A collaboration between university-based scholars working in fields related to nineteenth-century European cultures and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, during 2018 I led a series of free academic workshops and one major public event that examined the inter-connections and exchanges between Scotland and Europe’s literary, performance, and scientific cultures in the past to ask how our understanding of these can better prepare the people of Scotland for a post-Brexit world.
29-Jan-2018 - 15-Jan-2018
Scotland and Europe: Politics, Culture and National Borders - A Public Event at the National Museum of Scotland
Mitchell, Kate (Principal Investigator)
Together with the Director of the Society for Antiquaries of Scotland, I hosted an afternoon of talks and discussion on Scotland's relationships with Europe past and present. Distinguished guests included Professor Sir Tom Devine OBE FRSE HonMRIA FBA FSA Scot., who presented a lecture titled:
'How Highlandism Conquered Europe: From Sir Walter Scott to Brexit'. There followed a Roundtable with speakers including Anthony Salamone, Research Fellow and Strategic Advisor of the Scottish Centre on European Relations think tank, as well as representatives of the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies at Durham University, the Society of Dix-Neuviemistes and the RSE-funded project Establishing SNNEC. Some 70 members of the public were in attendance.
29-Jan-2018 - 12-Jan-2019
Establishing SNNEC: Scottish and European Exchanges Then (1780-1914), and Now
Mitchell, Kate (Principal Investigator)
29-Jan-2018 - 28-Jan-2019
Women at the Theatre: Writers as Spectators in Post-Unification Italy (1861-1914)
Mitchell, Kate (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2014 - 31-Jan-2014
‘Italian Divas at the fin de siècle: Roles, Receptions and Transnational Legacies’
Mitchell, Kate (Principal Investigator)
The student will undertake a doctoral thesis on 'Italian Divas at the fin de siècle: Roles, Receptions and Transnational Legacies', in partnership with Scottish Opera. Focussing on the highly-acclaimed soprano singer Adelina Patti (1843-1919), who was renowned for her performances of Verdi's heroines, the student will work in conjunction with the Director of Outreach & Education at Scottish Opera during Verdi's bicentenary year (2013) and beyond, to commission performances of Patti's and other nineteenth-century Italian divas' most famous roles, which will be performed by young Scots singers enrolled on Scottish Opera's Emerging Artists Programme

Amount applied for: £53,594
31-Jan-2013 - 31-Jan-2016
Women at the Theatre: Writers as Spectators in Early Post-Unification Italy, 1861-1914
Mitchell, Kate (Principal Investigator)
21-Jan-2013 - 31-Jan-2013

More projects

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Dr Katharine Mitchell
Senior Lecturer

Email: katharine.mitchell@strath.ac.uk
Tel: 444 8202