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Dr Katrin Wehling-Giorgi

Associate Professor / Director of Studies / Director MA in Languages, Literatures & Cultures

BA, MSt, DPhil Oxon

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Associate Professor / Director of Studies / Director MA in Languages, Literatures & Cultures in the School of Modern Languages and CulturesER272, Elvet Riverside II+44 (0) 191 33 42456


Before coming to Durham University, I spent three years as an IAS and then as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Warwick. 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’ and my research-led final-year module 'Writing the Modern Self'. I also direct the MA in Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

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. 

Research interests 

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 from a comparative perspective, including Elsa Morante, Natalia Ginzburg, Goliarda Sapienza, Elena Ferrante, Toni Morrison and Alice Sebold.

Current research and collaborations

Together with Tiziana de Rogatis (Università per Stranieri di Siena) and Stiliana Milkova (Oberlin College), I have recently guest edited the Special Journal Issue Elena Ferrante in a Global Context for Modern Language Notes (2021). Together with Tiziana de Rogatis, I am currently co-editing the first volume of critical essays on Trauma Narratives in Italian and Transnational Women's Writing (forthcoming with Sapienza University Press in 2022/3). I am also currently guest-editing, together with de Rogatis and Milkova, a Special Issue on Comparative Approaches to Elena Ferrante: Traumas, Bodies, Languages for the journal Romance Studies. Together with Tiziana de Rogatis, I have recently co-authored an article on 'Traumatic Realism and the Poetics of Trauma in Elsa Morante's Works' (Allegoria 83), a discussion of which has been published in the Section 'Spazio aperto' of the same journal. 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).

Another research project I am currently pursuing (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. 

Postgraduate Supervision

I have supervised PhD students working on a range of topics, including twentieth-century women's writing and cross-cultural, spatial and postcolonial approaches to twentieth-century and contemporary literature, as well as on gender and translation.

I welcome enquiries by prospective PhD students focusing on women’s writing and discourses around female subjectivity and space (20th – 21st century); gender studies; trauma studies; motherhood studies and feminist theory; discourses around subjectivity and space in modernist writing, and other fields related to my research specialisms.


Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Edited book

  • de Rogatis, Tiziana & Wehling-Giorgi, Katrin (2022). Trauma Narratives in Italian and Transnational Women's Writing. Intercultural Series. Sapienza Università Editrice.
  • Bazzoni, Alberica, Bond, Emma & Wehling-Giorgi, Katrin (2016). Goliarda Sapienza in Context: Intertextual Relationships with Italian and European Culture. Italian Studies. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

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.

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Wehling-Giorgi, Katrin (2022). The Lost Daughter: portraying the darker sides of motherhood on the page and the screen. The Conversation/ The Independent
  • Wehling-Giorgi, Katrin (2021). 'Forging the Female Voice Out of the Ruins of History: Reading Natalia Ginzburg'. Reading in Translation
  • Wehling-Giorgi, Katrin (2013). Naples into Words. Public Books

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • de Rogatis, Tiziana & Wehling-Giorgi, Katrin (2022). Il realismo traumatico della Storia di Elsa Morante dalla prospettiva del trauma del covid. Allegoria, Spazio Aperto .

Translated Chapter in Book

  • Wehling-Giorgi, Katrin (trans.) (2012). Deuber-Mankowsky, Astrid, 'Cinematographic Aesthetics as Subversion of Moral Reason in Pasolini's Medea '. In The Scandal of Self-Contradiction: Pasolini's Multistable Subjectivities, Traditions, Geographies. Di Blasi, Luca, Gragnolati, Manuele & Holzhey, Christoph E. H. (ed.). Berlin: Turia + Kant.
  • Wehling-Giorgi, Katrin (trans.) (2012). Deuber-Mankowsky, Astrid, 'Bingo! The Spiritual Automaton in Lars von Trier's Dogville '. In Dekalog 05. On Dogville. Fortuna, Sara & Scuriatti, Laura (ed.). London/New York: Wallflower Press. 51-67
  • Wehling-Giorgi, Katrin (trans.) (2009). 'Baubo - Another and Additional Name for Aracoeli: Morante's Queer Feminism '. In The Power of Disturbance: Elsa Morante’s Aracoeli. Fortuna, Sara & Gragnolati, Manuele (ed.). Oxford: Legenda.

Supervision students