Program Director
PhD in Italian Literature, University of Chicago - IL, USA
MA in Italian Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison - WI, USA
Laurea in Lettere e Filosofia, Universita' di Roma LUMSA - Rome, Italy
BA in Italian Language and Literature, University of Tennessee, Knoxville - TN, USA


Catherine Ramsey-Portolano received her Ph.D. in Italian Literature from the University of Chicago and is currently Associate Professor and Program Director of Italian Studies at The American University of Rome in Rome, Italy.  Her principal areas of research are Gender Studies, 19th & 20th century Italian women writers and Italian film, particularly from the early and fascist periods. 

She has published articles on Italian cinema, such as Luchino Visconti’s 1941 film Ossessione and Carmine Gallone’s 1917 film Malombra, Igino Ugo Tarchetti’s novel Fosca, the representation of masculinity in Pietro Aretino’s Renaissance play Il Marescalco and Italian women writers, particularly Neera but also Sibilla Aleramo, Fausta Cialente and Dacia Maraini. 

She co-edited a special issue of The Italianist dedicated to Neera, entitled Rethinking Neera (2010) and edited the volume The Future of Italian Teaching: Media, New Technologies and Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives (2015).

Ramsey-Portolano has recently published Performing Bodies: Female Illness in Italian Literature and Cinema (1860-1920) - a publication exploring how female illness was portrayed in Italian literature and early cinema, making the case that being sick had its advantages - sometimes even offering the female protagonist a way to become the master not only of her body but also of her story and destiny.
You can read more about the publication here.

Professor Portolano is currently participating in the AHRC-funded Fellowship 'Reading Bodies: Narrating Illness in Spanish and European Literatures and Cultures (1870s to 1960s and Beyond).' The project analyses representations of bodies and minds in Spanish and European literature and cultures. Drawing together specialists in Modern Languages and Medical Humanities, Creative Writing, Public Health, and Psychology, the project will trace the development of narratives of illness from the 1870s to the 1960s and their legacy in the present day, with particular attention to gendered representations of psychological and physical conditions. Foregrounding Hispanic Studies alongside French, German, Italian, and Portuguese, the project seeks to foster collaboration and shared insights across languages and other academic disciplines.
You can find out more about the fellowship at