Dr Charlotte Ross PhD

Photograph of Dr Charlotte Ross

Department of Modern Languages
Reader in Gender, Sexuality and Cultural Studies

Contact details

Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Head of Section and Admissions Tutor for Italian Studies; Head of PGT for the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music.

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 teach modules on literature, society, identity and translation for Italian Studies. I teach seminars on gender, sexuality and feminism for the MRes in Sexuality and 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.

Recent PhD theses supervised include:

  • Dr Alex Standen, ‘Re-thinking the victim : representations of gender violence in the narratives of Dacia Maraini’;
  • Dr Luca Malici, ‘Watching queer television: a case study of the representation, circulation and reception of sexual dissidence on Italian mainstream TV from 1990 to 2012’;
  • Dr Holly Pike (co-supervision with Dr Monica Jato), ‘No / Bodies: Carcerality, Corporeality, And Subjectivity in the Life Narratives by Franco's Female Prisoners’.

Find out more - our PhD Italian Studies  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


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. Recently, I have been involved in several collaborative projects. With Silvia Antosa (Enna 'Korè'), I am currently working on a BA/Leverhulme-funded project entitled 'Cultural Discourses on Desire between Women. A Queer Comparative Analysis’, which explores transversal relationships between discourses on female sexuality in Italy, France and the UK between the 1870s and the 1930s. Together with Julia Heim (Baruch College, CUNY) and SA Smythe (UC Irvine), I recently led an AHRC Research Network Project, called the 'Queer Italia Network (QuIR). See our website for details of the workshops and events we organised: www.queeritalia.com. 

Previously, I completed an AHRC-funded project called Eccentricity and Sameness: Lesbian Cultural Identity in Italy, which explores the discursive construction and representation of lesbian identities and desire in literary and cultural texts. This has led to the publication of a monograph,  Eccentricity and Sameness. Discourses on Lesbianism and Desire between Women in Italy, 1860s-1930sFor more information about this project, see my blog: http://charlotterossresearch.wordpress.com/

Other activities

  • Visiting Professor at the University of Palermo, Spring 2015
  • '"Cunnilingui" and "l'amore lesbiano" in late 19 and early 20th century Italy' at the American Association of Italian Studies conference, Zurich, May 2014
  • Keynote presentation: 'Goliarda Sapienza's French Connections' at the conference 'Goliarda Sapienza in Context', IGRS, University of London, May 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
  • '‘Goliarda Sapienza: an eccentric revolutionary’, at the 18th Lesbian Lives conference, ‘Revolting, bodies, politics and genders’, University of Brighton, February 2011
  • ‘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
  • Invited keynote presentation, 'Queer bodies: fluidity, materiality and stickiness' at the interdisciplinary conference 'Queer Crossings', University of Palermo, June 2010


ross-charlotte italian-studies


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

  • ‘Pathologies and Eroticism: Paolo Mantegazza’s Ambiguous Reflections on Female Same-sex Sexuality’. In Homosexuality in Italian Literature, Culture, and Society 1789-1919, edited by Lorenzo Benadusi, Paolo Luca Bernardini and Paola Guazzo (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, forthcoming 2017).
  • ‘Goliarda Sapienza’s “French Connections”. In Goliarda Sapienza in Context: Intertextual Relationships with Italian and European Culture. Eds Alberica Bazzoni, Emma Bond and Katrin Wehling-Giorgio (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016).
  • ‘Italian medical and literary discourses around female same-sex desire, 1877-1906’. In Discourses of Italian Sexualities Uncovered, edited by Valeria Babini, Chiara Beccalossi and Lucy Riall (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)
  • '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

  • ‘La carezza incompiuta’. Queer Aesthetics, Desire And Censorship In Ticchioni’s Il suicidio di un esteta, MLR, Vol. 111 (2), 2016, 390-412
  • Donne nate male, amicizie colpevoli e quelle profonde come una parentela. Marise Ferro’s queerly desiring women. Italian Culture, Vol. 34 (2) 2016, 63-80.
  • 'Imagined Commuities: Issues around LGBTQ Ageing in Italy', Modern Italy, 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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