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Department of English Studies

Our Current and Recent Research Students

We have a thriving postgraduate community, with around 75 current PhD students, and many more MA students. The profiles of some of our current and recent PhD students can be found here.

Dr Katherine Skaris

Contact Dr Katherine Skaris


I received my BA from Stony Brook University of New York in Philosophy, Psychology and Biology, and subsequently decided to pursue a Masters in English. I graduated from Queens College in New York in 2010 and began my doctoral research here at Durham University in the fall of 2011. My MA dissertation "Affective Laboring in The Awakening and The House of Mirth" used feminist theory, economics, and affective labor to explain the oppression of women in late 19th century and early 20th century American Literature. Using two canonical novels, The Awakening by Kate Chopin and The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, I used affective labor, that is emotional or immaterial labor that offers no monetary compensation, as well as capitalist conditions, to justify Edna Pontellierʼs and Lily Bartʼs deaths.

In my doctoral research supervised by Dr. Simon James and Stephen Regan, I will use the lens of affective labor, to illustrate the oppression of women due to capitalist conditions. Using feminist theory, economics and affective labor, I will further explore both American and British Literature, and the way they function as indications of social and economic patterns of those times. I hope to provide a clear and concise understanding of how the oppression of women is directly attributed to capitalist conditions, and has been for many years. While affective labor is a useful tool in understanding the economy of the present day, it is especially pertinent when discussing the literature, and the social as well as the economic patterns of the past.

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