Rachel  Johnson

Rachel Johnson

PhD Researcher in Italian Cinema

Summary: Italian cinema; film festivals; political cinema; ideology; psychoanalysis; discourse analysis; aesthetic theory; artistic legitimation

Location: Michael Sadler Building


My research

My PhD thesis is entitled 'Ethical Commitment and Ideology: A Psychoanalysis of Italian Festival Cinema' and analyses the relationship between political commitment and commercial success in contemporary Italian festival cinema. Using theories of ideology critique elaborated by, primarily, Slavoj Žižek, I aim to discover if and, if so, what, ideology is conditioning the awarding of 'Best Picture' to a select few Italian films at major film festivals. My research is funded by the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH), and I am supervised by Drs Alan O'Leary and Paul Taylor.

Conference papers and presentations

I have presented original research papers and the following conferences:

  • WRoCAH annual PGR conference (York, 2016)
  • Consuming Heritage: Identity, History, Culture (Leeds, 2016) 
  • Cross Cultural Crossings: LCS annual PGR conference (Leeds, 2016)


My co-authored report on the Italian Cinemas/ Italian Histories international workshop is forthcoming in the Journal for Italian Cinema and Media Studies (expected: Dec 2016).


I currently teach on the second-year undergraduate module, Italian Cinema: Genre and Social Change.

Other responsibilities and appointments

I am one of two interns appointed to develop the research culture in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, and sit on the WRoCAH Training & Engagement Committee as a postgraduate representative. I also co-direct the reading group Quilting Points 2016/17: Hannah Arendt in Dark Times.

About me

I previously studied at University College London (UCL) where I completed an MA in European Culture and Thought: Culture (2014-15). My dissertation was on the politics of the universal in contemporary Italian mafia movies. I was awarded a BA joint honours degree in English literature and Italian, and the Lucy Whitmell Prize for highest achievement in Italian, by the University of Leeds (2010-2014).

Research interests

My research interests include, but are not limited to: psychoanalysis - in partcular the work of Jacques Lacan and Slavoj Žižek; Theodor Adorno's aesthetic theory; Hannah Arendt's political thought; Italian political cinema; Italian contemporary cinema; film festivals; theories of ideology and discourse.