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Ms Emmanuela Wroth

B.A (Cantab), M.A (Cantab), MPhil (Cantab)

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Member of the Department of Music  


Emmanuela Wroth is the recipient of an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award between Durham University's French and Music departments, and the Bowes Museum. Taking as a point of entry the career of the museum’s founder Joséphine Bowes at the Théâtre des Variétés in Paris, her research focuses on nineteenth-century female actors and courtesans on the French popular stage. Her work encompasses the historic association between female actors and sex workers, the sexualisation and racialisation of female performer bodies, and theories of celebrity, costume, visual and material culture.

Emmanuela works closely with the Bowes Museum collection and archives, rethinking the museum’s displays related to Josephine and making issues at the forefront of intersectional feminist politics accessible to its wide audience.

Emmanuela teaches at Durham University and leads a Decolonisation Research Group, which drives research agenda and engages with questions around decolonial pedagogical practices. Emmanuela holds a BA (Hons), MA and MPhil from the University of Cambridge, where her research similarly focused on feminist and critical race theory.

Conference Papers

Sept 2021: ‘Rose Chéri’s “Spectacular Disappearances” in Le Demi-monde and Beyond’ (Modern Visuality in Nineteenth Century Performance, Exeter University)

March 2021: ‘Rose Chéri, Créatrice du Demi-monde’ (Society of Dix-Neuviémistes, University of St Andrews)

Nov 2020: ‘The Art of Playing the “Tart with a Heart”: Eugénie Doche as La Dame aux Camélias’ (The Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies Postgraduate Conference, Durham University)

Oct 2020: ‘The Revelation of Marion de Lorme as a Penitent Magdalene’ (Cultural Practices of Staging in Nineteenth-Century France, University of Lausanne)

July 2020: ‘Fleshing Out the Rivalry Between Mlle Mars and Marie Dorval’ (Joint Conference of the Society for French Historical Studies and George Rudé Seminar, University of Auckland)

July 2020: ‘Celebrity Disenchanted: Public Intimacy and Consent Behind the Scenes of the Nineteenth-Century Parisian Popular Stage’ (Durham University Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster)

Oct 2019: ‘Look but don’t Touch? Mapping Consent in the Demi-monde’ (Nineteenth-Century French Studies Conference, Florida State University and the John and Mable Ringling Museum)

Sept 2019: ‘Sex, Song and Self-fashioning: Women on the Popular Parisian Stage’ (Second International Conference on Women’s Work in Music, Bangor University)

June 2019: ‘Sex, Song and Self-fashioning: Women on the Popular Parisian Stage’ (Conference of the International Association of Women in Music and Feminist Theory, Berklee College of Music)

Events and Exhibitions

In July 2020 Emmanuela co-organised a seminar on Consent in French History and Culture for the Durham Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster.

In 2019 Emmanuela collaborated with artists from the #Untitled10 exhibition at the Bowes museum, providing research for various exhibition pieces, live performances and contributing to a podcast (link here).

In August 2019 Emmanuela organised a conference with Marianne Mulvey at the Tate Modern (London) entitled When Exhibitionism meets Exhibition which staged conversations and experiments around where, when and how exhibitionism and voyeurism intersect with different sites of exhibition and display, from the museum to the theatre and beyond.

Between October 2018–February 2019 Emmanuela researched and co-curated the All Male no More exhibition at Hatfield College at Durham University, which celebrated 30 years of women being admitted to the college.

Invited Talks

April 2021: ‘From Critical Thinking to “Critical Fabulation”: Saidiya Hartman and Narrating Beyond the Limits of Nineteenth-Century History’ (Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, Durham University)

March 2021: ‘Eugénie Doche and the Fashioning of Marguerite Gautier’ (Cambridge Seminar Series in Nineteenth-Century French Studies)

Jan 2021: ‘Interdisciplinary Methodologies in Historical Musicology’ (Durham University Music Research Seminar)

Jan 2020: ‘Stage (Dis)appearances Can Be Revealing: The Triplicitous Marie Dorval as Marion Delorme’ (Durham University French Research Seminar)

July 2019: ‘Joséphine Bowes: a Kept Woman or a Keeper of the Arts?’ (The National Gallery and Bowes Museum Research Forum)

Research Groups
School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Selected Publications

Journal Article

Emmanuela Wroth (2024) The Fashioning of La Dame aux Camélias: Eugénie Doche’s creation of Marguerite Gautier. French Studies 78(2).

Chapter in book

Clare Siviter & Emmanuela Wroth (forthcoming, 2022) “New Approaches to Female Celebrity Actors in Nineteenth-Century France”, in A New History of French Theatres, ed. by Clare Finburgh (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Book review

Emmanuela Wroth (2021) Courtesan and Countess: The Lost and Found Memoirs of the French Consul's Wife. Modern & Contemporary France, 29(4): 453-454.

Translated article

Emmanuela Wroth (2015) Italian to English translation of joint-authored article by Leonella Grasso Caprioli, Dinko Fabris and Giuseppe Silvestri and Federica Riva in the Journal of Arts and Humanities in Higher Education (special issue: Reflective Conservatoire Conference).

Translated chapter 

Emmanuela Wroth (2020) Italian to English translation of Franco Piperno's chapter “Italian Opera and the Concept of “Canon” in the Late Eighteenth Century” in the Oxford Handbook of the Operatic Canon (New York: Oxford University Press).


The Francophone Imaginary: Legacies of Colonialism in Literature and Culture (Seminar leader)

The F-word: Feminism and Intersectionality in Contemporary Francophone Writing (Lecturer)

French Language 1 (Teacher)

Emmanuela is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research interests

  • Female actors
  • Popular theatre
  • Queer theory
  • Nineteenth-Century France
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Theories of Gender and Sexuality
  • Theatre Studies
  • Celebrity Theory
  • Sex Work
  • Nineteenth-Century Britain
  • Material Culture
  • Costume History
  • North-East England