Dr Charlotte Ross PhD


Senior Lecturer
Programme Lead for Italian Studies

Department of Modern Languages: Italian Studies

Charlotte Ross

Contact details

Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


Programme Lead and Admissions Tutor for Italian Studies; School Quality Officer.

Main research interests and areas of PG supervision: gender, sexuality and embodiment in modern and contemporary Italian culture.


I studied Combined Honours English and Modern Languages at Newnham College, Cambridge and for a Master of Studies in Modern Languages at Balliol College, Oxford before completing a PhD at the University of Warwick, under the supervision of Professor Ann Hallamore Caesar and Dr Jenny Burns.


I am Director of Education, Admissions Tutor and Undergraduate Programme Lead for Italian Studies. I teach modules on society and identity, and theatre for Italian Studies. I teach seminars on gender, sexuality and cultural theory for the MRes in Cultural Inquiry and the MRes in Gender Studies, as well as supervising PhD students.

Postgraduate supervision

I am currently supervising several postgraduate students working on issues relating to gender and sexuality in Italian culture. I would be happy to hear from prospective doctoral candidates wishing to pursue research in this area, or on other aspects of twentieth-century and contemporary Italian culture and society.


My research focuses on how bodies, gender and sexuality are understood, constructed and represented in socio-cultural contexts. I am particularly interested in elaborations of sexuality and identity, in cultural texts as well as in practices of social engagement and activism. I am currently working on an AHRC-funded project called Eccentricity and Sameness: Lesbian Cultural Identity in Italy, 1870 to the present day, which explores the discursive construction and representation of lesbian identities and desire in literature and film. For more information about this project, see my blog: http://charlotterossresearch.wordpress.com/. In previous work, I have focussed on issues of embodiment; my book, Narratives of Embodiment in the Work of Primo Levi: Containing the Human (Routledge, 2011), analyses Levi’s engagements with and representations of embodiment, from the imprisoned and abject body in the Lager to the posthuman technologized bodies of his science fiction writing. In 2008 I co-organized a conference entitled 'Gender and Sexuality Studies Italian Style', in Prato, Italy, which has led to a special issue of the journal Italian Studies on gender and sexuality (July 2010). I am also co-editor (with Dr Daniele Albertazzi, Dr Clodagh Brook and Dr Nina Rothenberg) of Resisting the Tide: Cultures of Opposition under Berlusconi 2001-06(Continuum, 2009).

Research groups

I am part of a university network of researchers with interests in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I am also on the editorial committee of the online journal 'altrelettere': http://www.altrelettere.uzh.ch/index.html. I am also part of the Editorial Committee of the series Altera. Collana di Intercultura di Genere, published by ETS Edizioni, Pisa: http://www.facebook.com/events/140128649385003/#!/altera.interculturadigenere?fref=ts

Other activities

I regularly attend conferences and give research seminars and public talks to discuss and present my work. Recent and forthcoming presentations include:

  • 'Framing "obscene" confessions: discourses of female same-sex desire in early 20th century Italy', University of Kent, February 2013
  • Presentation of the film The Hunger at 'Shout', Birmingham's festival of queer culture, 15 November 2012
  • 'Matrimoni Bostoniani', at 'Immaginaria' film festival, Milan, 5 October 2012
  • 'Self-same tongues of condemnation or approof:discourses around lesbian and female same-sex desire, 1870-1914' at the workshop 'Italian Sexualities Uncovered: The Long Nineteenth Century (1789-1914)', Bologna, 20-22 September 2012
  • 'Inverts, tribades, sapphists and the mannish lesbian: subversive desires in Italian cultural texts, 1877-1908' at the workshop ' "The Female ‘Other’: Subversive Women in 19th and 20th Century Literary and Cultural Production', University of Warwick, 18 May 2012
  • ‘Goliarda Sapienza: an eccentric revolutionary’, at the 18th Lesbian Lives conference, ‘Revolting, bodies, politics and genders’, University of Brighton, February 2011
  • ‘The “Body” in Fragments: anxieties, fascination and the ideal of “wholeness” ‘, presented at the conference 'Thinking in Fragments', University of Birmingham, December 2010
  • ‘Goliarda Sapienza e l’arte della fluidità sessuale’, presented at the conference ‘ “On ne naît pas, on le deviant”. Les Gender Studies et le cas italien, des années 70 a aujourd’hui. Entre libération sexuelle et nouveaux tabous’, University of Grenoble, November 2010
  • 'Discourses and Counter-discourses of lesbian subjectivity', presented at the conference 'Language, Space and Otherness', British School in Rome, June 2010
  • Invited keynote presentation, 'Queer bodies: fluidity, materiality and stickiness' at the interdisciplinary conference 'Queer Crossings', University of Palermo, June 2010


ross-charlotte italian-studies


  • Primo Levi's Narratives of Embodiment: Containing the Human (New York: Routledge, 2011)

Edited collections

  • Co-edited with Susanna Scarparo, special issue of Italian Studies: Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Italian Culture: representations and critical debates, Vol. 65 No. 2, July 2010
  • Co-edited with Daniele Albertazzi, Clodagh Brook and Nina Rothenberg, Resisting the Tide: Cultures of Opposition in the Berlusconi Years 2001-06 (London: Continuum, 2009)
  • Co-edited with Loredana Polezzi, In corpore: Bodies in Post-Unification Italy (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2007)
  • Co-edited with Rochelle Sibley, Illuminating Eco: On the Boundaries of Interpretation (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004)

Book chapters

  • 'Queer Embodiments: Fluidity, Materiality, Stickiness' in Silvia Antosa (ed.) Queer Crossings. theories, Bodies, Texts (Milan: Mimesis, 2012)
  • ‘Identità di genere e sessualità nelle opere di Goliarda Sapienza: finzioni necessariamente queer’ in “Quel sogno d’essere” nell’opera di Goliarda Sapienza. Percorsi critici nel caleidoscopio artistico di una delle maggiori autrici del Novecento italiano , ed.Giovanna Providenti (Rome: Aracne, 2012)
  • ‘Feminist Activism and Practice: Asserting Autonomy and Resisting Precarity’, co-authored with Manuela Galetto, Chiara Lasala, Sveva Magaraggia, Chiara Martucci, and Elisabetta Onori, in Daniele Albertazzi, Clodagh Brook, Charlotte Ross and Nina Rothenberg (eds), Resisting the Tide: Cultures of Opposition in the Berlusconi Years 2001-06 (London: Continuum, 2009)
  • ‘Collective Association in the LGBT Movement’, in Daniele Albertazzi, Clodagh Brook, Charlotte Ross and Nina Rothenberg (eds), Resisting the Tide: Cultures of Opposition in the Berlusconi Years 2001-06 (London: Continuum, 2009)
  • Chapter 7, 'Levi's Thought Experiments: Science-Fiction', in Robert Gordon (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Primo Levi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • 'Rita Levi Montalcini', in Angela Barwig and Thomas Stauder (eds) Intellettuali italiani fra il dopoguerra e l'inizio del ventunesimo secolo. Saggi sulla trasformazione dei rapporti fra cultura e potere (Frankfurt: Verlag für deutsch-italienische Studien, 2007)
  • 'Porno girl da fumetto' in Charlotte Ross and Loredana Polezzi (eds), In corpore: Bodies in Post-Unification Italy (Madison NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2007)
  • 'Who are you calling robot? Cyberfeminisms and fictions' in Alessia Ronchetti and Maria Serena Sapegno (eds) Dentro/ fuori/ sopra/ sotto (Rome: Longo, 2007)
  • (with Derek Duncan), 'Reading Allowed: Contemporary Lesbian and Gay Fiction in Italy' in Gillian Ania and Ann Hallamore Caesar (eds), Trends in Contemporary Italian Narrative, 1980-2007 (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007)
  • Chapter 8, 'The Serendipities of Semiotics, or Knowledge as a "theory of next Thursday"' in Charlotte Ross and Rochelle Sibley (eds) Illuminating Eco: On the Boundaries of Interpretation (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004)

Journal articles

  • 'Imagined Commuities: Issues around LGBTQ Ageing in Italy', Modern Itay, Vol.17, no. 4, 2012, 449-464 
  • ‘Critical Approaches to Gender and Sexuality in Italian Culture and Society’. Italian Studies, Vol. 65 no. 2, July, 2010, 164–77
  • 'Visions of Visibility: LGBT Activism in Turin', Modern Italy (Vol.13, no.3, August 2008: 241-260)
  • Incarnando la sessualità: performatività, parodia e piacere', in Omosapiens. Studi e ricerche sull'orientamento sessuale/1, ed. by Domenico Rizzo, DiGayProject ONLUS, Rome (Rome: Carocci, Oct. 2006)
  • 'Parallel Productions: Rita and Paola Levi Montalcini', Italian Studies, Vol. LIX, 2004, 132-51
  • 'Queering the habitus: lesbian identity in Stancanelli's Benzina', Romance Studies, Vol.22 (3), November 2004, 237-50
  • 'Creating the Ideal Posthuman Body? Cyborg Sex and Gender in Twentieth Century Italian Literature', Italica, Vol. 82, no. 2, Summer 2005, 222-47


  • 'Primo Levi: Lively Machines and Machinic Bodies', Arachnofiles, Issue 3, Spring 2004

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