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Gender studies

Gender Studies at Exeter include expertise in French, German, Italian and Iberian cultures, as well as developing work on Francophone and Lusophone Africa and Latin America.

Dr Vassallo organised the exhibition Algeria(s) in France: A Journey Through Identity (University of Exeter, October-November 2012), while Dr Zitzlsperger co-organised the international ‘Gender, Agency and Violence’ conference at the then Institute for Germanic and Romance Studies (now Institute for Modern Languages Research) in March 2010.

Current and future work includes Dr Nuria Capdevila's collaboration on 'Women under Suspicion' (Mujeres bajo sospecha), an interdisciplinary project led by sociologist Professor Raquel Osborne (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain).

Staff membersResearch areaEmail 
Dr Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles Modern and contemporary Spanish feminism, particularly representations of generic and sexual ambiguity and the relationship between woman and nation 
Dr Fiona Cox Reception of classical literature, especially Virgil and Ovid, in literature and culture since the nineteenth century; contemporary women’s writing in French.
Dr Danielle Hipkins
Gender and film audiences, Girl culture in postwar Italy and Europe, postfeminism and film, representations of prostitution
Dr Muireann Maguire Representation of maternity in literature generally. She is currently preparing a book (Hideous Agonies: Myths of Maternity in Russian and Comparative Literature) on how male authors write pregnancy and childbirth in prose fiction.
Dr Ana Martins Portuguese feminism and Lusophone postcolonial cultural studies
Dr Katharine Murphy Female characters in, and female readership of, early twentieth-century Spanish literature 
Dr Maria Scott French literature of the nineteenth century, particularly Baudelaire's poetry and prose poetry and the novels of Stendhal; thinking about the visual, about gender, and about reading/reception from the nineteenth century to the present
Dr Helen Vassallo Contemporary women's writing in French and the legacy of the Algerian War of Independence 
Dr Ulrike Zitzlsperger The culture and literature of twentieth-century Berlin, particularly in the 20s and 90s; the phenomenon of the Department Store 
Dr Eliana Maestri

Italian and French translations of autobiographical narratives in English by women writers; ideological and gender issues in translation; feminist approaches to translation; translation as movement of people and objects across continents; acts of translation displayed in visual arts by female migrants; female writers as migrants acting as translators and cultural mediators between generations and cultural settings.

Listed below are the projects associated with the Gender Studies research group that secured external funding. For information on other projects, please see individual staff pages or the research pages for each individual language.


Recent projectsStaff member 
Behind Closed Shutters: Unlocking Gender through the Figure of the Prostitute in Post-war Italian Cinema Professor Danielle Hipkins
The Body Besieged: Conflict and Trauma in Contemporary Francophone Women's Writing Dr Helen Vassallo
Gender, Islam and the 'Free Woman' in 'The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing' Dr Helen Vassallo

The work of staff from the gender studies research group has impacted on public policy. Dr Helen Vassallo was commissioned to write an article on gender and multiculturalism for the EU journal Public Services Review, a publication that informs EU gender policy.

At the University, Dr Helen Vassallo organised an exhibition of photographs from the photo-journal of Algerian author Leïla Sebbar, and opened the exhibit with an introductory talk. This was held in the Street Gallery, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Algerian independence in 2012 and as part of her project on 'Algeria in France 50 years on'.

Our staff have also brought the benefit of their research into schools. Dr Helen Vassallo has given talks to classes in Devon schools on the subject of gender and sexuality.

Student nameSupervisorsThesis topic
Elena Basilio Danielle Hipkins and Richard Mansell To understand the role played by translation in the diffusion of Anglo-American feminist ideas in the Italian feminist movement
Laura Dragomir Ricarda Schmidt and Ulrike Zitzlsperger Feminist perspectives in the writings of Annette Kolb: the politics of the female voyager
Marjorie Gehrhardt Ulrike Zitzlsperger and David Jones  The destiny of World War One facially disfigured soldiers during the inter-war period with special focus on France, Germany and Great Britain