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Dr Elisabetta Girelli

Senior Lecturer in Film Studies

My most recent and current research focuses on silent film, stardom, performance, cultural analysis and discourses, sexuality and gender, subversion and difference. Prior to this development, I concentrated on the creation of identity on screen, and its link to cultural analysis. I especially worked on queer theory and theories of representation; on queer stardom and cinema; on screen constructions of normativity, and the demarcation of the ‘normal’ and abject body. A thread throughout all my research, past and present, is the interest in textual analysis, and in revisionist readings of filmic texts, to identify conflicting strands of available meaning and/or the formation of oppositional configurations.

My latest monograph is Montgomery Clift, Queer Star, a study of Montgomery Clift as a queer star and signifier. The book spans the whole of Clift’s career, providing a theoretically-informed analysis of the range of subversive configurations he brought to the screen: http://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/montgomery-clift-queer-star

My next project was a study of Rudolph Valentino’s erotic identity before his ‘Sheik’ persona, and centres on a close reading of his screen performance; it rests on a theoretical framework including the work of Leo Bersani and Sigmund Freud.

I am continuing to expand my interest in the creation of meaning in silent film performance; one of my latest published articles focuses on John Gilbert in The Merry Widow (1925), exploring the ways he performatively negotiates his dominance of the film text. My latest publication is on director/actor Erich von Stroheim in two of his silent films, Blind Husbands (1919) and Foolish Wives (1922).

I have recently completed two pieces. One is an essay on the film Hotel Imperial (Mauritz Stiller, 1927) and on the function of its star, Pola Negri, in the film’s anxiety-ridden WWI narrative. The second is a theoretically-informed study of the performance of the Russian star Ivan Mozzhukhin in The Late Mathias Pascal (Marcel L’Herbier, 1926).

I’m currently working on a new project, focused on Anna Pavlova in The Dumb Girl of Portici (Lois Weber, 1915).




The Male Body as Vacillation: Disability, Gender, and Discourse in The Men, in Screen Bodies, 3:1.


'Our Bravest and Most Beautiful Soldier': Pola Negri, Wartime, and the Gendering of Anxiety in Hotel Imperial (1927).


Recent publications:

'Beauty in the Lap of Horror': the Gothic Appeal of Erich von Stroheim in Blind Husbands (1919) and Foolish Wives (1922)' in Palgrave Communications, special issue on Studies in the Horror and the Gothic, 2017.


'Just Plain Danilo Petrovich': John Gilbert's Performance as Negotiation in The Merry Widow (1925)' in Screening the Past, 41.


'Before The Sheik: Rudolph Valentino and Sexual Melancholia' in Film International, 13:2.

Latest monograph: Montgomery Clift, Queer Star

Girelli, E 2017, '"Beauty in the lap of horror": the gothic appeal of Erich von Stroheim in Blind Husbands (1919) and Foolish Wives (1922)' Palgrave Communications: special issue on the Gothic., vol. 3, 17082. DOI: 10.1057/palcomms.2017.82
Girelli, E 2017, In your face: Montgomery Clift comes out as crip in The Young Lions. in G Austin & S Yu (eds), Revisiting Star Studies: Cultures, Themes and Methods.. Edinburgh University Press.
Girelli, E 2016, '‘Just plain Danilo Petrovich’: John Gilbert’s performance as negotiation in The Merry Widow (1925)' Screening the Past, vol. 41.
Girelli, E 2015, 'Before The Sheik: Rudolph Valentino and Sexual Melancholia' Film International, vol. 13, no. 2. DOI: 10.1386/fiin.13.2.6_1
Girelli, E 2014, 'Book review: 'Sexual Difference in European Cinema: the Curse of Enjoyment', by Fabio Vighi' Studies in European Cinema. DOI: 10.1080/17411548.2014.973695
Girelli, E 2014, 'Book review: 'Men’s cinema: masculinity and mise-en-scène in Hollywood', by Stella Bruzzi.' Scottish Journal of Performance, vol. 1, no. 2. DOI: 10.14439/sjop.2014.0102.07
Girelli, E 2013, Montgomery Clift, Queer Star. Wayne State University Press.
Girelli, E 2012, 'The traitor as patriot: Guy Burgess, Englishness and camp in Another Country and An Englishman Abroad' Journal of European Popular Culture, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 129-141. DOI: 10.1386/jepc.2.2.129_1
Girelli, E 2011, 'Man and boy: Montgomery Clift as a queer star in Wild River' Journal of Popular Film and Television, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 132-140. DOI: 10.1080/01956051.2011.555795
Girelli, E 2011, 'Subverting space: Private, public and power in three Czechoslovak films from the 1960s and 70s' Studies in Eastern European Cinema, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 49-59. DOI: 10.1386/seec.2.1.49_1
Girelli, E 2010, 'Review of The Passion of Montgomery Clift' Sight and Sound.
Girelli, E 2009, Stardom, Italianness and Britishness in Post-war Britain. in T Soila (ed.), Stellar Encounters: Stardom in Popular European Cinema. John Libbey.
Girelli, E 2009, Beauty and the Beast: Italianness in British Cinema. Intellect Books.
Girelli, E 2007, 'Transnational Orientalism: Ferzan Ozpetek’s Turkish Dream in Hamam (1997)' New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 23-38. DOI: 10.1386/ncin.5.1.23_1
Girelli, E 2006, 'The Power of the Masquerade: Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios and the Construction of Femininity' Hispanic Research Journal, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 251-258. DOI: 10.1179/174582006X119709
Girelli, E 2006, 'Beauty and the Beast: the Construction of Italianness in A Room With A View and Where Angels Fear to Tread' Studies in European Cinema, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 25-35. DOI: 10.1386/seci.3.1.25/1
Girelli, E 2006, Contributions to "Directors in British and Irish Cinema: a reference companion". in R Murphy (ed.), Directors in British and Irish cinema: a reference companion. British Film Institute.
Girelli, E 2005, 'Transnational Maleness: the Italian Immigrant in Hell Drivers' Cinema Journal, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 44-56. DOI: 10.1353/cj.2005.0028
Girelli, E 2004, 'Subverting Rules and Reinforcing Stereotypes: Italianness in Madonna of the Seven Moons' National Identities, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 157-171. DOI: 10.1080/1460894042000248413

Research supervision

I am interested in supervising doctoral theses on these broad topics: stars studies; performance and silent cinema; queer cinema and queer theory; sexual, gender, and national identity in British, European, and Hollywood cinemas, within frameworks of cultural analysis and theories of representation; crip theory; representations of normativity and its contestations.



I am currently supervising: