Catherine Davies appointed director of Institute of Modern Languages Research

Tuesday 22 July 2014

The Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR), one of the 10 institutes of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, has today formally announced the appointment of Professor Catherine Davies as its new director.

Currently Professor of Hispanic and Latin American studies at Nottingham University, Catherine Davies will succeed Professor Bill Marshall, who returns to the School of Languages, Cultures and Religions at the University of Stirling. She will assume the full-time directorship from 1 August 2014 on secondment from Nottingham. Dr Katia Pizzi will continue to serve as Acting Director until this date.  

A champion of modern languages research, Professor Davies said ‘I am taking on this new post with a great sense of responsibility and dedication. The UK has some of the world’s top experts in the languages, cultures and histories of other parts of the globe. This fact is well known in those countries, but generally not in the UK. It is my task to showcase our world-leading, and often pioneering, research to maintain the UK’s status in this field, and to grow and support quality research in modern languages.

‘The IMLR has a unique role in the UK to promote and to develop research excellence in these cognate language disciplines. I aim to work with colleagues at IMLR to strengthen and disseminate the collective knowledge and expertise of this country’s modern languages researchers, for the benefit of academia, government and civil society internationally.’

Professor Davies gained her PhD at the University of Glasgow in 1984 and has since taught at the universities of St Andrews, Manchester and Queen Mary. Her research interests include gender and nationalism in Cuba and Spain, particularly the formation and transmission of liberal thought in 19th-century Spanish and Spanish American literature and cultural history.  She has written a number of books including on abolitionism in Cuba and co-wrote South American Independence: Gender, Politics, Text, the first book to address gender in the history of the Wars of Independence.

During her time at Nottingham, Professor Davies took the lead role on two AHRC-funded projects, Gendering Latin American Independence 1790-1830 and Women and Independence in Latin America (WILA). The WILA initiative has been instrumental in the development of an interactive, community-driven online resource for academics and non-academics to share ideas and information about women’s involvement in independence in Latin America and its relevance today.

Professor Roger Kain, CBE FBA, Dean and Chief Executive of the School and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: ‘We are delighted to have been able to appoint Professor Davies. We believe her experience, knowledge and expertise will be vital as we continue our ambitious plans to extend the Institute of Modern Languages’ national leadership role.’

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Notes for editors:

1. For further information please contact Dee Burn at the School of Advanced Study, University of London at / 020 7862 8670. Images available on request.

2. The Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR) was established in 2004 through a merger of the Institute of Germanic Studies and the Institute of Romance Studies, founded in 1950 and 1989 respectively. Until August 2013, IMLR was known as the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies when it was renamed to emphasise its national research role and to embrace its wider remit. The Institute is committed to facilitating, initiating and promoting dialogue and research for the Modern Languages community.

3. The School of Advanced Study, University of London (SAS) is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2012-13, SAS: welcomed 833 research fellows and associates; held 2,231 research dissemination events; received 21.7 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 194,529 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.

4. Catherine Davies is Professor of Hispanic and Latin American Studies, at the University of Nottingham, where she specialises in 19th- and 20th- century Spanish and Spanish American literature and cultural history. Her research interests are gender, nationalism, 19th-century Spanish colonial politics and abolitionism in Cuba. She has also researched the literary and cultural production of Spanish, Cuban and Spanish American women authors as well as editions of literary texts. Her recent research explores the intersections between literature, history and ideology in Spain and Spanish America, particularly the impact of warfare, violence and militarisation on the social gender order in the Spanish Atlantic Empire. Her publications include Latin American Women's Writing. Feminist Readings in Theory and Crisis (ed. with Anny Brooksbank Jones, 1996); A Place in the Sun? Women's Writing in Twentieth-century Cuba (1997); Spanish Women's Writing 1849-1996 (1998), an edition of the Cuban feminist-abolitionist novel Sab [1841] by Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (2001), “Gender Studies” in The Cambridge Companion to the Latin American Novel (ed. by Efraín Kristal), and South American Independence: Gender, Politics, Text (with Claire Brewster and Hilary Owen, 2006), the first book to address gender in the history of the Wars of Independence. She was Principal Investigator on the AHRC research projects ‘Gendering Latin American Independence: 1790-1830’, 2001-2006, and ‘Women and Independence in Latin America: A New Multimedia Community-Contributed and Community-Driven Online Resource’, 2012-2013. 

5. The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in Higher Education. It consists of 18 self-governing Colleges of outstanding reputation, together with a number of prestigious central academic bodies and activities. Learn more about the University of London at