Diletta De Cristofaro


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Personal profile


I research and write about contemporary literature and culture. I am particularly interested in North American and British writings responding to twenty-first-century anxieties and crises, and in what these narratives tell us about our society, our sense of self, and of time. I am an expert in the apocalyptic imagination, especially narratives about the climate crisis. My book on the topic, The Contemporary Post-Apocalyptic Novel: Critical Temporalities and the End Times, is out with Bloomsbury. In addition to the environmental humanities, my work intervenes in the medical humanities. At present, I am the Principal Investigator on two Wellcome Trust-funded projects exploring sleep and sleeplessness in the twenty-first century: the research project “Writing the Sleep Crisis” and the public engagement project "Understanding and Reimagining Sleep and Its Disorders". My work on sleep was also awarded funding from the European Commission.

My essays and criticism have appeared in publications ranging from ParallaxASAP/JCritique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, and boundary 2 online, to SalonThe WeekRTÉ, The Conversation, and Post45 Contemporaries. I am a public speaker and contribute to literary and science festivals, such as Durham Book Festival, the European Researchers Night, and the Being Human Festival.

In 2021-2022, I was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at Politecnico di Milano (Italy), and in 2017 I was a Research Fellow at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin (USA). Since 2018, I have been part of 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’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 current research project, "Writing the Sleep Crisis", was awarded funding from the Wellcome Trust and the European Commission - visit the project's website here. This is the first study to explore cultural engagements with the so-called sleep crisis, namely, contemporary society's presumed widespread sleep deprivation and rise of sleep disorders. 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. 

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 threat of climate breakdown and 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.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

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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