Dr Elizabeth Schächter studied French and Italian at the University of Leeds and subsequently focused on twentieth-century Italian fiction for her doctoral thesis. Her first teaching position was at the University of Wales Bangor, where she taught Italian language and literature and published articles on Montale, Moravia, and Verga.
In 1988 she moved to the Italian Department at the University of Kent and in 2001 she joined Comparative Literature. She was Head of Italian Studies at the University of Kent from 1994 to 2000 and has also taught, as a visiting lecturer, at University College London and for a sabbatical term at La Trobe University, Melbourne.
Elizabeth has written extensively on the Italian novelist Italo Svevo, neglected in his lifetime, but now acknowledged as a writer of international stature alongside his contemporaries Kafka, Proust and Joyce. In her book Origin and Identity: Essays on Svevo and Trieste (2000), key issues are explored such as Svevo’s Jewishness; his debt to psychoanalysis; sexuality and marriage; structure and irony; time and narration.
Another area of research on which she has completed a monograph entitled Between Tradition and Transformation: The Jews of Italy, 1848-1915, is the integration of the Jews of Italy, the largest ethnic minority of the nineteenth century, from the time of their emancipation until the First World War. The process of integration is examined from a number of perspectives: assimilation and acculturation; the complex relationship between national identity and Jewish identity; demographic, social and cultural change; anti-semitism and the pivotal role of the Catholic Church; the Zionist movement. For both these studies, she was awarded a British Academy Research Grant.
From 1987 to 1996 Elizabeth was Honorary Secretary of the British Society for Italian Studies. She acted as External Assessor of the Italian Department in the University of Westminster in 1990 and 1992 and, from 1987 to 2005, as External Examiner for Italian undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the universities of Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Reading, York, University College and Royal Holloway University of London and Westminster.
Elizabeth served on the Editorial Board of Pirandello Studies from 1996 to 2000 and was editor of the journal from 1990 to 1996. She is a regular reviewer for Italian Studies, Modern Language Review and Pirandello Studies.