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Professor Katrin Wehling-Giorgi

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

Professor / Director of Studies / Director MA in Languages, Literatures & Cultures in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures+44 (0) 191 33 42456
Fellow of the Institute for Medical Humanities


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 currently serve as the Director of Italian Studies and I direct the MA in Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

My first book, Gadda and Beckett: Storytelling, Subjectivity and Fracture (awarded 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 and cultural products, with a particular focus on European modernism, the theoretical intersections between psychoanalysis and literature, gender studies, feminist theory, visual culture, 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, and I am currently working on the intersections between visual tropes and traumatic expression.

Current research and collaborations

I have recently co-edited and co-written the introduction for the first volume of critical essays on Trauma Narratives in Italian and Transnational Women's Writing (Sapienza Università Editrice, 2022, co-edited with Tiziana de Rogatis), which includes a solely authored chapter on traumatic images and multistable visions in Elsa Morante’s La Storia. I am also currently guest-editing two further volumes: a Special Issue on Comparative Approaches to Elena Ferrante: Traumas, Bodies, Languages for the journal Romance Studies (with Stiliana Milkova), which will include an article on transgenerational trauma in Toni Morrison, Elsa Morante and Elena Ferrante's works; and a Special Issue (with Franco Baldasso, Ursula Fanning, Mara Josi and Stefania Porcelli) on Fifty Years of La Storia: Elsa Morante Beyond History, Annali d'Italianistica, vol. 42 (forthcoming 2024). I have previously guest edited the Special Journal Issue Elena Ferrante in a Global Context for Modern Language Notes (2021), for which I have contributed an article on sexual violence and the traumatized self in the works of Alice Sebold and Elena Ferrante. Together with Tiziana de Rogatis, I have 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).

My current book project, entitled Spectral (Hi)stories: Women Narrating Trauma in Post-war Italy (under contract with Palgrave Macmillan), seeks to provide new insights into female-authored post-war cultural production through the polifocal lens of trauma studies. Contrary to the long-held belief that trauma is unrepresentable, my study focuses on how female creators - both in the Italian and the transnational context (including authors and filmmakers Elsa Morante, Elena Ferrante, Goliarda Sapienza, Igiaba Scego, Toni Morrison, Elizabeth Strout, Alice Sebold and Alina Marazzi) - are uniquely placed to intercept and articulate spectral (hi)stories. With Italy distinctively imbricated in the micro and macro traumas of our times, the project will focus on how unruly female bodies and visual/spatial imaginaries provide privileged sites of the synecdochal channelling of suffering. The book will show that the female body not only centres multiple discourses of power, but its exploration as a site of trauma also invites new insights into the co-constitution of material and discursive productions of reality, ultimately defining a new traumascape in post-WWII female-authored 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

Journal Article


Other (Digital/Visual Media)

Other (Print)

Supervision students