Dr Katharine Mitchell



Personal statement

I am a feminist media, literary, and cultural studies scholar with a specialism in Italian middle-class women and gender from the 1870s to the 1920s. In 2021 I was elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and 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 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.

My interdisciplinary research examines real and represented women performers, writers, readers, spectators and journalists, drawing on studies in celebrity culture, theatre, opera, silent film, print culture and life writings. 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 November 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 and Year Abroad (Erasmus+) coordinator for the School 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 sit of the Editorial Board of Italian Studies and the Advisory Board of Gender/Sexuality/Italy, 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 in 2021 I was elected to the Society for Italian Studies Executive Committee. 

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 report as the director of the Scottish Network for Nineteenth-Century European Cultures under the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework.

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


Has expertise in:

    • Gender and Feminism in Italy
    • The Fallen Woman trope
    • Female Spectatorships
    • Celebrity Culture
    • Nineteenth-Century Transnationalisms

Prizes and awards

Elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Election to the Society for Italian Studies Executive Committee
Society of Italian Studies Executive Committee
Finalist place awarded in the Edinburgh Gadda Prize 2019 (Vittoria Group) for my monograph, 'Italian Women Writers: Gender and Everyday Life in Fiction and Journalism' (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014)
Visiting Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford

More prizes and awards


Matilde Serao : International Profile, Reception, and Networks
Romani Gabriella, Fanning Ursula, Mitchell Katharine
Serao in France : pleasuring women spectators with Après le pardon
Mitchell Katharine
Matilde Serao International Profile, Reception and Networks (2021) (2021)
Gender, Writing, Spectatorships : Evenings at the Theatre, Opera and Silent Screen in Late Nineteenth Century Italy and Beyond
Mitchell Katharine
Nineteenth Century Literature Series Nineteenth Century Literature Series (2021)
La Duse, Aleramo et Serao spectatrices de la scène et du cinéma italiens au tournant du XXe siècle : rencontres parisiennes
Mitchell Katharine
Spettatrices! La femme au spectacle de l’Antiquité à nos jours (2021) (2021)
Silent diva directors as cosmopolitan ‘Visions of Italy’ for women : Eleonora Duse and Francesca Bertini a confronto
Mitchell Katharine
Society for Italian Societies Themed Annual Conference (2020)
'Envoicing' women on page, stage, and screen in early post-unification Italy
Mitchell Katharine
Con altra voce echi, variazioni e dissonanze nell'espressione letteraria (2020) (2020)

More publications


I teach and supervise across undergraduate and postgraduate classes/projects in Italian, Gender Studies and Journalism, Media and Communication on gender, celebrity culture, theatre, opera and film spectatorships, as well as translation. 

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 have been external examiner for an MPhil thesis (University of Glasgow, 2019) and have internally examined several PhDs and an MPhil. I recently supervised to completion (50%) an MRes dissertation on Denied and Disowned Motherhood in the Works of Annie Ernaux and Dacia Maraini.

I have taught classes internationally at California State University, Long Beach, and at Seton Hall University, New Jersey, during my time as a Visiting Fellow in 2014.

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, 2022) 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, 2022), 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 five 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), California State University, Long Beach (2014), and the University of Bologna (2014). 

Professional activities

Open Library of Humanities, Birkbeck, University of London (Journal)
Peer reviewer
Italian Studies (Journal)
Editorial board member
Italian Studies (Journal)
Peer reviewer
Open Library of Humanities (Journal)
Peer reviewer
Interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland's Lunchtime Live programme about the new Barbie modelled on Vaccineologist Prof. Dame Sarah Gilbert
Modern Language Review (Journal)
Peer reviewer

More professional activities


RSE-funded Workshop Grant 2018 - £8,000
Mitchell, Katharine (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, Katharine (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, Katharine (Principal Investigator)
29-Jan-2018 - 28-Jan-2019
Women at the Theatre: Writers as Spectators in Post-Unification Italy (1861-1914)
Mitchell, Katharine (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2014 - 31-Jan-2014
‘Italian Divas at the fin de siècle: Roles, Receptions and Transnational Legacies’
Mitchell, Katharine (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, Katharine (Principal Investigator)
21-Jan-2013 - 31-Jan-2013

More projects