Diletta De Cristofaro

Research Fellow

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, funded by the Wellcome Trust, is the first to explore cultural engagements with the sleep crisis, namely, the sense that contemporary society is chronically sleep-deprived. I consider a wide range of twenty-first-century writings: fiction, non-fiction (memoirs and self-help manuals), and digital culture (mobile health apps and sleep hygiene blogs). 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 seek to theorise the affects of the sleep crisis – such as insomnia, burnout, exhaustion, anxiety – as voiced by contemporary cultural production.

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.



Organisational affiliations

Education/Academic qualification

  • PhD, American Studies, University of Nottingham

  • MPhil, Philosophy, Università degli Studi di Milano

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

Professional Qualifications

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, FHEA