Lauren Jones

Photo of Lauren Jones

Department of Modern Languages
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD Title:  Rethinking Impegno: Emotion in Italian Cinema on Migration
Supervisors: Dr Charlotte Ross, Professor Rob Stone and Dr Alaina Schempp
PhD Modern Languages


  • BA (First Class Joint Honours) Ancient History and Archaeology and Italian studies – University of Birmingham, 2011
  • MA Italian Studies (Thesis with Distinction) – Georgetown University, 2015


I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham. My research focuses on the representation of migration in recent Italian cinema and the relationship between cinematic emotion, politics and impegno.

I completed a BA in Ancient History and Italian Studies at the University of Birmingham in 2011, during which time I spent a year studying in Italy at the Università degli Studi di Siena. In 2015 I obtained an MA in Italian Studies from Georgetown University and received a distinction for my thesis Cinema e le Ideologie Politiche alla Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia (Cinema and Political Ideologies at the Venice International Film Festival).

In 2020-2021 I served as Research Assistant for B-Film, the interdisciplinary research centre of film scholars at the University of Birmingham. I am also a Postgraduate Representative for the Association for the Study of Modern Italy (ASMI).


  • I taught the second-year undergraduate module Introduction to Translating from Italian into English, 2021.
  • I was an English language assistant in an Italian secondary school in Turin, as part of the British Council’s ELA programme, 2011-2012.


My research explores recent Italian cinema that engages with the subject of migration to Italy in relation to filmic emotion. The growing body of Italian films on migration demands attention for their representations of identity in Italy amidst a shifting social and political landscape.

The following questions are central to my thesis:

  • What is the relationship between a film’s emotional engagement and its ethical and political commitment?
  • How is emotion a tool to engage (impegnarsi) with discourses on migration and national identity.

To address these questions, I will analyse the relationship between aesthetics, emotional engagement, critical thinking and ethical experience, by combining two theoretical fields: firstly, the cognitive theories of cinematic emotion, which will support my analysis of the formal film techniques that encourage emotional engagement. Secondly, I will combine this with phenomenological understandings of empathy and the cinematic experience, to provide a more descriptive account of how emotion functions in relation to the socio-political subtexts of the films.

By bringing these theoretical frameworks together, I hope to demonstrate the importance of emotion in understanding contemporary works of impegno, or political and ethical engagement, which has remained largely unexplored in the Italian context.

Other activities

Research papers

  • ‘Rethinking Impegno: Emotion in Italian Migration Cinema’, B-Film PGR Research Seminar, online 2021
  • ‘Southern Journeys: The Self-Other relation in Crialese’s Terraferma’, B-Film Postgraduate Symposium, Birmingham 2019

Organisation of conferences

  • 2021: Association for the Study of Modern Italy PGR Summer School, University of Birmingham/online, 23-24 September
  • 2021: 4th Annual B-Film PGR Symposium, University of Birmingham, 5 May
  • 2020: Association for the Study of Modern Italy PGR Symposium, online 25-26 November