Diletta De Cristofaro

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Personal profile

Biography

I am a Wellcome Trust-funded Research Fellow, working on my project “Writing the Sleep Crisis”. My research focusses on contemporary literature and culture. I am particularly interested in North American and British writings responding to twenty-first-century anxieties and crises, and in the politics of time underlying these crises.

Most of my work to date has focussed on the contemporary post-apocalyptic novel. My book on the topic, The Contemporary Post-Apocalyptic Novel: Critical Temporalities and the End Times, is out with Bloomsbury. 

Before joning Northumbria, I was a Teaching Fellow in Contemporary Literature at the University of Birmingham (2017-2020). Previously, I lectured at De Montfort University (2017), Harlaxton College (2016), the University of Lincoln (2016), and the University of Nottingham (2014-2016). 

In 2017, I was a Research Fellow at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin (USA), supported by an Alfred A. and Blanche W. Knopf Research Fellowship in the Humanities. In 2012 I was a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for the Humanities, Utrecht University (NL), supported by an Erasmus Mundus grant.

I co-founded Contemporary Studies Network and I sit on the Executive Committee of the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies.

For up-to-date information about my work see my personal website and the website of my current research project, "Writing the Sleep Crisis".

Research interests

I write about contemporary literature and culture. I’m particularly interested in North American and British writings responding to twenty-first-century anxieties and crises that range from climate breakdown and other apocalyptic threats for my first book to the sleep crisis for my second book project. My research considers the understandings of time underlying these crises and, more broadly, how articulations of time are integral to support or critique power structures.

My current research project, "Writing the Sleep Crisis", is funded by the Wellcome Trust - visit the project's website here. This is the first study to explore cultural engagements with the sleep crisis, namely, the sense that contemporary society is profoundly sleep-deprived. I consider a wide range of twenty-first-century writings across fiction, non-fiction, and digital culture. Analysing these texts, I explore the concerns about contemporary life highlighted by the notion of a sleep crisis and what these concerns reveal about the relationship between health, in particular mental health, and neoliberal ideologies, especially those shaping our sense of self, experience of time, and working lives. In The Polyphony, you can read “Writing the Sleep Crisis“, a short piece introducing the project and discussing speculative fiction that imagines the future end of sleep. This essay also looks back on Forty Winks Café, the project’s inaugural event at Being Human Festival 2020, now available as a recording on YouTube.

I am an expert in the contemporary apocalyptic imagination. My book on the topic, The Contemporary Post-Apocalyptic Novel: Critical Temporalities and the End Times, is out with Bloomsbury. Today, we tend to think about the apocalypse as a catastrophe of overwhelmingly dystopian consequences but, traditionally, apocalyptic narratives concern the advent of a utopian world at the end of history. My research investigates what is at stake in this shift to a dystopian apocalyptic imagination by theorising the significance of time in the contemporary post-apocalyptic novel. You can read the introduction of my book on the contemporary post-apocalyptic novel here.

My work on the apocalyptic imagination engages with the idea of the Anthropocene, the current geological epoch defined by the devastating impact of human activities on the Earth system. With Daniel Cordle, I edited The Literature of the Anthropocene, a special issue of C21 Literature: Journal of 21st-Century Writing (2018).

In 2017, I was awarded a Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin (USA) to research the previously unexplored archival materials of the Jim Crace Papers. You can read more about this project here.

Education/Academic qualification

American Studies, PhD, University of Nottingham

Philosophy, MPhil, Università degli Studi di Milano

Philosophy, BA (Hons), Università degli Studi di Milano

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