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Durham University

Research & collaboration

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

Associate Professor / Deputy Director of PG Education 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 katrin.wehling-giorgi@durham.ac.uk)

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 11.30-12.30, or by appointment

Before coming to Durham University, I taught courses at the Universities of Oxford and Warwick, where I spent three years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (at the IAS first and then as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow). Previously, I studied Philosophy and Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, where I also completed 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 the theoretical intersections between psychoanalysis and literature, gender studies and discourses surrounding subjectivity and space. 

My first book, Gadda and Beckett: Storytelling, Subjectivity and Fracture, 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. 

I am currently working on my second monograph (provisionally entitled Abjecting the Maternal: Subversive Mothers and Forms of Selfhood in Twentieth-century and Contemporary Literature and Film), which involves an interdisciplinary examination – from literary and psychoanalytical perspectives - of the portrayal of the maternal figure in a selection of texts and films by post-WWII Italian, Austrian and American authors and filmmakers (including Elsa Morante, Goliarda Sapienza, Elena Ferrante, Elfriede Jelinek and Alice Sebold). The study will look 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 analyse 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, crippling, insanity, violence, aphasia and 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. 

Together with two colleagues from St Andrews and Oxford, I have 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).

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Selected Publications

Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

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Supervises

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