Clare Watters

PhD title Making Space for Satire: Italian Comedians in the Berlusconi Era

Supervisors Dr Clodagh Brook and Dr Charlotte Ross

I am in the third year of a PhD in Italian Studies under the supervision of Dr Clodagh Brook and Dr Charlotte Ross.

I completed my undergraduate degree in Combined Languages at the University of Hull, before completing the joint Warwick-Birmingham MA in Italian Studies: Culture and Communication. My MA dissertation focused on comic representations of Berlusconi in Nanni Moretti's Il caimano and Dario Fo's L'anomalo bicefalo.

Research project

My thesis examines the work of Italian political and satirical comedians since the start of Berlusconi’s second government in 2001, focusing on their use of performance spaces and their position within the cultural opposition to Berlusconi’s centre-right governments. The project draws on humour, media and performance studies to assess the comic strategies employed on television, stage, film and the internet, and at protest events.

My research has been funded by a University of Birmingham Humanities Research Scholarship. I was awarded the 2010 Graduate Student Award by the International Society for Humor Studies.


Watters, Clare, ‘Fascisti su Marte: Parodying the Past to Satirize Contemporary Crises’, Italian Studies, 67.2 (July 2012), pp. 201-13

Napoleoni, Loretta, Contagion, trans. by Clare Watters, Dom Holdaway, Alex Standen and Susanne Thuermer (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2012 forthcoming)

Watters, Clare, ‘Standing up for Italy: An interview with Filippo Giardina’, Comedy Studies, 2.1 (April 2011), pp. 83-87

Watters, Clare, ‘Being Berlusconi: Sabina Guzzanti’s impersonation on stage and screen’ in: Popa, D. and Tsakona, V. (eds.) Studies in Political Humour, (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011), pp. 167-89.

Watters, Clare, ‘Challenging Berlusconi’, New York Times [online] (25 January 2011).

Selected conference papers

‘Standing up for Italy: Contemporary comedians in a new satirical space’

Society for Italian Studies Biennial Conference

University of St Andrews, July 2011

‘Standing up for Italian politics: Comedians versus the political elite’

Italy United, Italy Divided? Identity and Citizenship in Italy

Open University, April 2011

‘To the Streets: Italian Comedians and Social Protest’,

22nd International Society for Humor Studies Conference

City University of Hong Kong, June 2010

‘“The Most Persecuted Man in History”: The Comedic Fate of the Italian Prime Minister’

So Funny It Hurts, 4th Annual International Comedy Conference University of Salford, June 2010

‘Fascisti su Marte: Parodying the Past and the Present’

Da Sodoma a 'Gomorra': Framing Crisis and Rebirth in Italian Cinema University of Warwick, January 2010

'Being Berlusconi: Satirical Impersonation in Contemporary Italy’ 

ASMI Postgraduate Conference, University of Edinburgh, July 2009

'Joking Aside: Stand-up Comedians in the Berlusconi Era'

DENUNCIA: Speaking Up in Modern Italy

New York University, March 2009

Guest speaker

Chair of Cineforum for the presentation of the films: ‘Citizen Berlusconi’ and ‘Shooting Silvio’
University of Warwick, November 2009

Presentation of the film ‘Viva Zapatero’
University of Hull, May 2008

Conference co-organisation

Gendering impegno in Modern Italian Culture
Department of Italian Studies, June 2012

Association for the Study of Modern Italy (ASMI) Postgraduate Conference
Department of Italian Studies, June 2010

GCfE Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Conference – Europe: Inside Out
Graduate Centre for Europe, March 2010

Birmingham-Warwick Postgraduate Forum
Department of Italian Studies, May 2009

A New Berlusconi Era: Lessons for Italy and Europe
Department of Italian Studies and Graduate Centre for Europe, February 2009