Choosing to study Italian at Sewanee marked the starting point for the direction of many decisions to follow that would have long-term effects on the rest of Catherine's life. Along with majoring in Italian came travel to Italy, first for a 6-week summer program and then for a one-year exchange program. One year became four and resulted in a Laurea di Dottore from Libera Università Maria SS. Assunta, the equivalent of a Master’s degree from one of Rome’s private universities. She returned to the U.S. to earn an MA in Italian from the University of Wisconsin and a PhD from the University of Chicago before returning to Italy in 1999 to make Rome her home. Since 2000, Catherine has taught at The American University of Rome where she is now Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Italian Studies teaching Italian culture, language, and literature, including courses on Dante’s Inferno, Italian feminism and woman writers, and Medieval Italian Literature. Ms. Ramsey-Portolano's research and publications focus on gender issues and women writers in 19th and 20th century Italian literature and film, and is currently working on a book dedicated to the representation of female illness in fin de siècle Italian narrative and early Italian cinema.