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Robert Gordon

Serena Professor of Italian


Phone: +44 (0)1223 335426 (College), +44 (0)1223 337711 (Faculty)


Italian (MML)

Gonville & Caius College


Robert Gordon works primarily on modern Italian literature, cinema and cultural history. He is the author or editor over a dozen volumes, including a major study of the writer and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini (Pasolini. Forms of Subjectivity) and several books on the work of Primo Levi (e.g. Primo Levi's Ordinary Virtues, Auschwitz Report, The Cambridge Companion to Primo Levi). He has also published on the wider field of postwar cultural responses to the Holocaust, in the book The Holocaust in Italian Culture, 1944-2010, the co-edited collection Holocaust Intersections and a special issue of the journal Quest. He is co-editor of Culture, Censorship and the State in 20th-Century Italy and his work on cinema includes the book on Pasolini, the BFI Film Classics volume Bicycle Thieves, DVD and Blu-ray audio commentaries, and articles and essays on Holocaust cinema, early film and literature, 'Hollywood on the Tiber', and censorship. He is also the author of a general account of modern Italian literature, A Difficult Modernity: An Introduction to Twentieth-Century Italian Literature. He has taught at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2015.

Principal Publications

2013 & A. Bangert, L. Saxton (eds). Holocaust Intersections. Genocide and Visual Culture at the New Millennium. Oxford: Legenda

2012 The Holocaust in Italian Culture, 1944-2010. Stanford: Stanford University Press

2010 ‘Sfacciata fortuna’. La Shoah e il caso / ‘Outrageous Fortune’. Luck and the Holocaust. Turin: Einaudi

2008 Bicycle Thieves. London: Palgrave / BFI Film Classics

2007 (ed.). Cambridge Companion to Primo Levi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

2006 (ed.). Leonardo De Benedetti & Primo Levi, Auschwitz Report. London: Verso

2005 A Difficult Modernity: An Introduction to Twentieth-Century Italian Literature. London: Duckworth

2005 & G. Bonsaver (eds). Culture, Censorship and the State in Twenthieth-Century Italy. Oxford: Legenda

2001 Primo Levi’s Ordinary Virtues: From Testimony to Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press

2000 & M. Belpoliti (eds). Primo Levi, The Voice of Memory. Interviews 1961-1987. New York: New Press

1996. Pasolini. Forms of Subjectivity. Oxford: Oxford University Press


I completed my PhD at the University of York in 2017 with a thesis titled 'Working Together, Working Apart: Feminism, Art and Collaboration in Britain and North American, 1970–1981'. I was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. in 2014 and a Terra Foundation for American Art pre-doctoral researcher in 2014–5. After my PhD I won post-doctoral research grants from the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art and the Henry Moore Foundation.

I have taught Modern and Contemporary Art and Theory at the Universities of York and Birmingham, as well as at Goldsmiths, University of London, City and Guilds Art School and West Dean College. My research is published in British Art Studies, MIRAJ and Tate Papers and I have contributed chapters to Collaboration and its (Dis)Contents, (Courtauld Books Online, 2017), Other Cinemas: Politics, Culture and Experimental Film in the 1970s (IB Tauris, 2017), Feminism and Art History Now (IB Tauris, 2017) and A Companion to Feminist Art (Blackwell, 2017 [forthcoming]). I am also a co-editor of London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks 1960–1980 (Penn State University Press, 2018 [forthcoming]) with Jo Applin and Catherine Spencer. I co-edited The Art of Feminism (Chronicle and Tate, 2018) with Lucy Gosling, Helena Reckitt and Hilary Robinson. I am currently working on a monograph on feminism, art and sisterhood.

At Cambridge, I teach across the Tripos, and convene the special subject module 'Vision and Representation in Contemporary Art', which focuses on the politics of figuration, surveillance and censorship in recent art and visual culture.

Research Interests

My research interests include: the relationship between feminism, art practice and art history; art and queer theory; art and post-colonialism; art and critical race theory; British and American art in the 1970s and 1980s; experimental cinema and moving image art; collaboration, collectivity and community in Modern and Contemporary art.

I co-organise the project: Group Work: Art and Feminism' with Dr Catherine Grant (Goldsmiths) and Dr Rachel Warriner (Courtauld Institute of Art).

Key Publications


A Woman’s Place, exh. cat. London: Raven Row, 2017. Text available at:

Edited Books

With Jo Applin, Catherine Spencer, London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks 1960–1980, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018. Out Now:

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Women and Work: A Document on the Division of Labour in Industry 1974 by Margaret Harrison, Kay Hunt and Mary Kelly, Tate In Focus Research Publication, 2018. [forthcoming]

‘I’ll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Yours’, in the ‘Mediating Collaboration’ special edition of Tate Papers, edited by Catherine Spencer, Amy Tobin and Harry Weeks, no. 25, Spring 2016.

‘Moving Pictures: Intersections between Art, Film and Feminism in the 1970s’ in MIRAJ, Feminisms Special Issue, edited by Catherine Elwes, vol.4, no.1–2, Spring 2016: 118–135.

Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters

‘On Feminism, Art and Collaboration’ in A Companion to Feminist Art, edited by Hilary Robinson and Maria Buszek, Blackwell, 2018. [forthcoming]

‘Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair (1978)’ in Other Cinemas: Politics, Culture and British Experimental Film in the 1970s edited by Sue Clayton and Laura Mulvey, I.B. Taurus, 2017.

With Victoria Horne, ‘An Unfinished Revolution in Art Historiography, Or How to Write a Feminist Art History?’ Feminist Review, no.107, 2014: 75–83. Republished in Feminism and Art History Now: Writing, Curating and Caring for the Past, IB Taurus, 2017.

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