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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Katrin Wehling-Giorgi, BA, MSt, DPhil Oxon

Associate Professor in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42456
Room number: ER272, Elvet Riverside II

Contact Dr Katrin Wehling-Giorgi (email at

Before coming to Durham University, I taught courses at the Universities of Oxford and Warwick, where I spent three years as an IAS and then as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. Previously, I studied Philosophy and Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, where I also completed an M.St. and a D.Phil in Comparative Literature. At Durham, I teach on various courses, including the second-year module ‘Narratives of Fascist and Post-war Italy’, my research-led final-year module 'Writing the Modern Self' and the MA in Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

My research interests include comparative approaches to twentieth-century and contemporary narrative, with a particular focus on European modernism, the theoretical intersections between psychoanalysis and literature, gender studies, feminist theory, trauma studies and discourses surrounding subjectivity and space. In recent years my research has mainly focused on post-WWII and contemporary women’s writing, including Elsa Morante, Goliarda Sapienza, Elena Ferrante and Alice Sebold.

Together with Tiziana de Rogatis (Università per Stranieri di Siena) and Stiliana Milkova (Oberlin College), I am currently guest editing the Special Journal Issue Elena Ferrante in a Global Context for Modern Language Notes (forthcoming 2021). I have also co-edited the first volume of critical essays in English on the Sicilian author Goliarda Sapienza (Goliarda Sapienza in Context: Intertextual Relationships with Italian and European Literature, co-edited by Alberica Bazzoni, Emma Bond and Katrin Wehling-Giorgi; Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016).

My first book, Gadda and Beckett: Storytelling, Subjectivity and Fracture (winner of the Gadda First Prize), was published with Legenda's Italian Perspectives Series (2014). It provides an in-depth comparative reading of the two authors’ prose writings, shedding new light on the central notions of textual and linguistic fragmentation and the fractured sense of selfhood. Whilst situating Gadda and Beckett at the heart of the debate of these fundamental aspects of the late modernist European literary context, the study also rethinks some of the plurilingual and macaronic features associated with a particular tendency in the Italian literary tradition. 

My current research project (provisionally entitled Subversive Mothers and Forms of Selfhood in Post-1960s Cultural Production) involves an interdisciplinary examination of the portrayal of the maternal figure in a selection of texts and films by post-WWII authors and filmmakers (including Elsa Morante, Goliarda Sapienza, Elena Ferrante, Alice Sebold and Alina Marazzi). The study looks at the surprisingly frequent phenomenon of maternal figures who fail to correspond to the culturally and socially constructed archetype-stereotype of the nurturing, self-abnegating and asexual mother (particularly relevant in the Italian Catholic context), which has long dominated male-centred discourses of motherhood. My project proposes to analyse a radical shift in this long-standing cultural discourse by investigating female-authored narratives of 'subversive' mothers and the disruptive power they exert. I will examine how these narratives employ subversion as a potent discursive device to question femininity and motherhood as normative, transparent categories - for example by fictionalising mothers affected by disability, illness, trauma, crippling, insanity, violence, aphasia or nymphomania - to underscore a new awareness of the complex constitution of the maternal subject. The overarching aim of my research is to establish how the 'subversive' mother functions as a key site of contestation through which female subjectivity is negotiated in post-war cultural production. 

Selected Publications

Authored book

Edited book

Edited Journal

  • de Rogatis, Tiziana, Milkova, Stiliana & Wehling-Giorgi, Katrin (2021). Elena Ferrante in a Global Context. Modern Language Notes, 136 (1): Johns Hopkins University Press.

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Book review

Newspaper/Magazine Article

Translated Chapter in Book

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Selected Grants

  • 2019: Elena Ferrante in a Global Context (MHRA Conference Grant, £1,500.00)
  • 2019: Elena Ferrante in a Global Context (Society of Italian Studies Conference Grant, £400)
  • 2013: Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, University of Warwick
  • 2011: Institute of Advanced Study Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Warwick
  • 2005: AHRC Doctoral Fellowship
  • 2004: AHRC Master's Scholarship