Kate Driscoll

Ph.D. Student


Kate Driscoll is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Italian Studies, with a Designated Emphasis on Renaissance and Early Modern Studies. Her research interests include the literary, social, and political histories of early modern Italy and Europe; issues of gender and women’s studies; and the history of music and the performing arts.

Kate’s dissertation, titled “Torquato Tasso among the Muses: Gendered Communities of Readership and Response in Early Modern Italy,” traces how the poet’s artistically innovative interactions with women writers, performers, and patrons reflect social and gendered dynamics inherent in Tasso’s writings, intended readership, and literary legacy. Through an interdisciplinary methodology informed by literary analysis, gender studies, musicology, and culture and performance history, her project demonstrates the centrality of Tasso’s contacts with women in various contexts, bringing these gendered communities to the foreground in order to enhance critical understanding of the sixteenth-century rise of new opportunities for men and women to collaborate as cultural protagonist. Before starting her doctoral studies at Berkeley, Kate received her Master’s degree in Italian at New York University in 2012, with a thesis titled “Rome’s Revival and Accoglienza of Torquato Tasso, Poet and Pilgrim.” In 2011, she earned her a double degree in Music Performance and Italian also from NYU.

For her dissertation, Kate has received the American Council of Learned Societies Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Venetian Program Research Grant, and travel grants won through the Renaissance Society of America and the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender. Her publications include a review essay (in Italian) of Jason Lawrence’s Tasso’s Art and Afterlives: The Gerusalemme liberata in England (Manchester University Press, 2017) (forthcoming with Studi tassiani), and in-progress manuscripts on staged adaptations of Ariosto’s Alcina and Tasso’s Armida in seventeenth-century Italy and France, and the figure of Marfisa d’Este as an “heiress to fiction” in Ferrara from literary texts to macabre fantasies.

Kate is also currently at work on her second project related to female performance and poetic fiction adapted for musical-theatrical productions, with particular attention paid to the rise of opera, the professionalization of the female singer and actress, and questions of embodied vocality. Kate has presented on her work related to this project and her dissertation at conferences in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, and Italy.