Portrait of Dr Stella Bolaki

Dr Stella Bolaki

Reader in American Literature and Medical Humanities
Internationalisation Officer


BA, Athens; MSc, PhD, Edinburgh

Stella Bolaki is Reader in American Literature and Medical Humanities. She joined the University of Kent in September 2011. Previously, she was Lecturer at the University of Glasgow, having taught before that at the University of Edinburgh, where she also completed her MSc and PhD. In addition, she has held a postdoctoral fellowship at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), and has been Co-Director of Scottish Universities’ International Summer School (SUISS), which offers courses in literature and creative writing. At Kent, she is a founding member of the Medical Humanities Research Cluster and is affiliated with the Centre for Gender, Sexuality and Writing and the Centre for American Studies. Stella’s administrative experience includes the roles of Internationalisation Director in the School of English and Chair of the Research Ethics Advisory Group in the Faculty of Humanities.

Research interests

Stella’s primary research specialisms are in narratives of illness and disability and in multi-ethnic American literature. They further include Black studies and contemporary women's writing. Her first monograph Unsettling the Bildungsroman: Reading Contemporary Ethnic American Women’s Fiction (Rodopi, 2011) considers the continuing relevance of the Bildungsroman in an ethnic American and postcolonial context focusing on the work of Jamaica Kincaid, Sandra Cisneros, Maxine Hong Kingston and Audre Lorde. Her second monograph Illness as Many Narratives: Arts, Medicine and Culture (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) explores contemporary representations of illness across different arts and media, including photography, performance art, film, theatre, animation and online narratives. Moreover, she has co-edited Audre Lorde’s Transnational Legacies (University of Massachusetts Press, 2015) and the exhibition catalogue Prescriptions: Artists’ books on wellbeing and medicine (Natrix Natrix Press 2017). Ideas relating to these publications are also developed in several journal essays and book chapters. Forthcoming work includes a guest-edited special issue on artists’ books and the medical humanities for the Journal of Medical Humanities and essays for the Routledge Companion to Literature and Disability (edited by Alice Hall) and the Routledge Handbook of the Medical Humanities (edited by Alan Bleakley). 

Stella’s most recent research in the field of the medical humanities has a strong public engagement dimension and has been awarded funding from the Wellcome Trust, the British Academy and the Faculty of Humanities at Kent. Since 2016 she has been leading the research project Artists’ Books and the Medical Humanities that consisted of an exhibition of artists’ books curated with the artist Egidija Čiricaitė (Prescriptions, Beaney Art Museum, 21 April-25 September 2016), an interdisciplinary symposium co-organised with the Maine Women Writers Collection (University of New England), and a series of workshops for health professionals, artists and the wider public. Stella has developed her collaboration with the Maine Women Writers Collection through another series of events at the University of New England, where she was also hosted as a researcher in the summer of 2017.


Stella has supervised PhDs on a wide range of topics including literature and neuroscience, speculative fiction, crafts and making as affective social practices, madness, addiction, the medicalisation of the body, and creative/critical writing projects. She would be keen to supervise doctoral research relating to any of her research interests. She would particularly welcome topics informed by the medical humanities and disability studies.  


Stella is member of The Collegium for African American ResearchThe Feminist and Women’s Studies Association, the Association for Medical Humanities, the Materialities of Care Research Network, the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance, the International Health Humanities Network, the Northern Network for Medical Humanities, and SAVAnT, the CHASE doctoral school in American art and visual culture. Being on the advisory board of the Kent Medical Humanities Network, she works closely with Leads in Medical Humanities within local Kent NHS Trusts. She is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

Stella is on the editorial board of the Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies as a peer reviewer and has acted as a reader for various publishers and journals, such as the University of Massachusetts Press, the University of Toronto Press, Literature and MedicineMedical HumanitiesContemporary Women’s WritingStudies in the NovelMELUS, Journal of American StudiesSymbiosis, and The Year’s Work in English Studies.

Stella has co-organised and participated in numerous academic symposia and public engagement events, including :“Audre Lorde’s Legacy: A Film and Cultural Festival” (2012); “Artists’ Books and the Medical Humanities” (2016); “The Art of Dying Well” roundtable hosted by Pilgrims Hospices for Kent’s International Arts Festival (2017); “Tell me What Hurts: Storytelling and the Healing Arts” (2018), and the British Academy’s Summer Showcase (2019).



  • Bolaki, S. (2016). Illness As Many Narratives: Arts, Medicine and Culture. [Online]. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Available at: https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-illness-as-many-narratives.html.
    Illness narratives have become a cultural phenomenon in the Western world but their analysis continues to be framed by the context of biomedicine, the doctor–patient encounter and the demands of medical training. This reductive and instrumental attitude prevents the inclusion of more formally experimental genres, different themes and interdisciplinary methods within the field. It also perpetuates the view of the medical humanities as a narrow area of study largely serving the needs of medicine. Approaching illness and its treatments as a multiplicity and situating them in relation to aesthetics, theory, radical pedagogy, politics and contemporary cultural concerns, Bolaki offers close readings of autobiographical and collaborative works across a wide range of arts and media. Through case studies on photography, artists’ books, performance art, film, theatre, animation and online narratives, Illness as Many Narratives demonstrates how bringing in diverse materials and engaging with multiple perspectives can help the arts, cultural studies and the medical humanities to establish critical conversations and amplify the goals and scope of their respective work. Key Features:
    •Opens up the category of illness narrative to consider a wide variety of media/artistic forms beyond literature
    •Intervenes in current debates in medical humanities/medical education by emphasising more critical as opposed to instrumental approaches
    •Explores different physical and mental illness experiences in both autobiographical and collaborative/relational narratives
    •Offers new close readings of diverse works by Sam Taylor-Wood, Martha Hall, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Wim Wenders, Lisa Kron and others
  • Bolaki, S. (2011). Unsettling the Bildungsroman: Reading Contemporary Ethnic American Women’s Fiction. Amsterdam / New York: Rodopi.
    What kinds of uncertainties and desires do generic issues evoke? How can we account for the continuing hold of the Bildungsroman as a model of analysis? Unsettling the Bildungsroman: Reading Contemporary Ethnic American Women's Fiction combines genre and cultural theory and offers a cross-ethnic comparative approach to the tradition of the female novel of development and the American coming-of-age narrative. Examining closely the work of Jamaica Kincaid, Sandra Cisneros, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Audre Lorde, the chapters foreground processes of constructing an alternative "art of living" which challenges the Bildungsroman's drive for either assimilation or ethnic homogeneity and pushes for new configurations of ethnic and American female identity. Drawing on feminist/gender studies, psychoanalytic theory, translation theory, queer theory, and disability studies, the book provides a theoretically engaged rethinking of the Bildungsroman's form and function. Addressing questions of aesthetics and politics, freedom and belonging, betrayal and responsibility, and tracing the Bildungsroman's links with life-writing forms such as immigrant narrative, mother-daughter story, biomythography, and illness narrative, the study outlines the various ways in which the novel of individual development becomes an appropriate site for the negotiation of several enduring and contentious tensions in ethnic American writing. Of potential interest to scholars of American literature, but also ethnic, feminist and postcolonial literatures, and to students of American literature and culture, the book demonstrates the Bildungsroman's ongoing relevance and expanded capacity of representation in an ethnic American and postcolonial context.


  • Bolaki, S. (2019). Contemporary Artists’ Books and the Intimate Aesthetics of Illness. Journal of Medical Humanities [Online] 41. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10912-019-09596-4.
    This essay brings together critical perspectives from the discrete traditions of artists’ books and the medical humanities to examine artists’ books by three contemporary artists – Penny Alexander, Martha A. Hall and Amanda Watson-Will – that treat experiences of illness and wellbeing. Through its focus on a multimodal and multisensory art form that has allegiances with, but is not reduced to, narrative, the essay adds to recent calls to rethink key assumptions of illness narrative study and to challenge utilitarian approaches. In particular, it draws attention to the aesthetic and imaginative elements of illness communication by exploring how artists’ books represent lived experiences in a distinctively palpable way and offer an “intimate authority” that extends beyond narrative legitimacy or a form of struggle against the medical gaze. By interrogating narrative’s dominance in medical humanities research, the essay further expands awareness of illness experiences that resist conventional forms of representation (such as chronic illness), and of alternative reflective practices within healthcare education that encourage engagement with both mind and body.
  • Bolaki, S. (2017). Capturing the Worlds of Multiple Sclerosis: Hannah Laycock’s Photography. Medical Humanities [Online] 43:47-54. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/medhum-2016-011073.
    This essay explores UK photographer Hannah Laycock’s Awakenings and, to a lesser extent, Perceiving Identity that were created in 2015, following her diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2013. It draws on scholarship by people with chronic illness while situating these two MS projects in the context of Laycock’s earlier art and portrait photography dealing with fragility, image and desire, and power relations between subject and observer. The analysis illustrates how her evocative photography captures the lived or subjective experience of an invisible and often misunderstood condition by initially focusing on the tension between transparency and opacity in her work. It further shows how her images counter dominant didactic metaphors such as ‘the body as machine’ that perpetuate the dehumanising and objectifying aspects of medical care. Subsequent sections trace the influence that Oliver Sacks has had on Laycock’s practice, and reflect on other metaphors and tropes in Awakenings that illuminate the relationship between body and self in MS. The essay concludes by acknowledging the therapeutic power of art and calling upon health professionals to make more use of such artistic work in clinical practice.
  • Bolaki, S. (2017). "The Absence Doubled?" Photo-Poetic Narratives of Prophylactic Mastectomy. Literature and Medicine [Online] 35:1-26. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/lm.2017.0000.
    This essay considers Clare Best's poetic sequence Self-portrait without Breasts (2011) and her collaboration with photographer Laura Stevens, which explore preventive surgery and questions of genetics/hereditary breast cancer. In an era when risk and cosmetic reconstruction guide treatment and the development of new breast cancer subjects, Best reclaims the "flat simple scarred chest with no extras." I situate her poems in the context of statistics and the neoliberal postfeminist subject as well as in a poetic tradition about the post-mastectomy body as landscape. Reading the poetic sequence alongside photographs by Best and Stevens, I show how the liminal site of the scar and the flat body can be approached as generative spaces. In its dialogue with earlier representations of the amputated breast, this photo-poetic narrative contributes to the education of health professionals and demonstrates the importance of expanding discourses about women's health and feminist politics in the twenty-first century.
  • Bolaki, S. and Gair, C. (2015). Disability and the American Counterculture: Introduction. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies [Online] 9:125-134. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3828/jlcds.2015.11.
  • Bolaki, S. (2013). Illness and Transatlantic Sisterhoods in Audre Lorde’s ’A Burst of Light: Living with Cancer’. Symbiosis: a journal of Anglo-American Literary Relations 17:3-20.
  • Bolaki, S. (2013). Celebrating Our History: Audre Lorde. The Source: The Women’s Resource Centre Newsletter Spring:17.
  • Bolaki, S. (2011). ’New Living the old in a new way’: home and queer migrations in Audre Lorde’s Zami. Textual Practice [Online] 25:779-798. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0950236X.2011.586784.
    This essay looks back to an older queer of colour text, Audre Lorde's Zami: A New Spelling of My Name that rethinks narrow formulations of the relation of queer and diasporic subjects to the space of ‘home’ before these debates emerged in queer diasporic criticism. Drawing on critics who have suggested that queer migrations entail remaking rather than leaving home, most notably Anne-Marie Fortier and Gayatri Gopinath, I argue that Zami challenges idealized conceptions of home and belonging without abandoning these concepts altogether. My analysis starts by showing how Lorde, departing from the Anglo-American tradition of the lesbian Bildungsroman, queers the ancestral homeland and the childhood home through a kind of translation that demonstrates the dynamic relationship between ethnicity and sexuality in female queer diasporic narratives. It then turns to the lesbian community as theoretical home and traces the process of ‘making home’ exemplified in Zami. Rather than being a straightforward project, this requires continuously attaching home to, and detaching it from, relationships, communities, and places or, in Lorde's words, living in the ‘house of difference’. In reading Lorde's biomythography through the theoretical lens of queer diaspora, my essay seeks to keep open the text's capacity to speak beyond its historical moment: Zami which has been typically read as a work that serves the ‘convenient’ function of ‘making vivid a Black lesbian's position in the world’ looks forward to theorizations of queer diasporas and offers important insights to questions of home and un/belonging.
  • Bolaki, S. (2011). Re-Covering the Scarred Body: Textual and Photographic Narratives of Breast Cancer. Mosaic [Online] 44:1-17. Available at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/440539.
    Reading first-person breast cancer narratives—textual and photographic—from the late seventies to the present, this essay examines how photographs can insert themselves into a heterogeneous tradition of illness narratives, inflecting current debates in breast cancer representation and even changing the framework of thinking about the disease.
  • Bolaki, S. (2009). ’It translated well’: The Promise and the Perils of Translation in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior. MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States [Online] 34:39-60. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1353/mel.0.0056.
  • Bolaki, S. (2009). ’What the Book Told’: Illness, Witnessing, and Patient-Doctor Encounters in Martha Hall’s Artist’s Books. Gender Forum [Online] 26:1-9. Available at: http://www.genderforum.org/issues/literature-and-medicine-ii/what-the-book-told/.
    The essay explores the specific insights artists’ books offer to contemporary feminist understandings of breast cancer, questions of representation and embodiment, discourses of ‘witnessing,’ and to doctor-patient relationships, using the work of American book artist Martha A. Hall as a case study. Hall’s artists’ books, created in response to her initial diagnosis of breast cancer in 1989 and the effects of later recurrences until her death in 2003, consist of poems, prose passages, ironic quotations by health practitioners, and images such as x-rays, bone scans, and pictures of prescription bottles. Artists’ books create a different kind of ‘reading experience’ compared to most ordinary books. While this is often described in terms of a powerful ‘aesthetic’ experience, in the essay I am more concerned with illustrating how artists’ books engage and complicate discourses of witnessing, which have recently become foregrounded in the fields of trauma, disability, and illness studies. I also discuss the potential the artist’s book holds as a medium for sharing experiences of critical illness and for effecting change in the ways medical professionals interact with their patients, thus commenting on both its personal and political value. The essay concludes with a series of reflections triggered by my own particular encounter with Hall’s work.
  • Bolaki, S. (2006). Creative writing - short story (title in Greek). Morfes [Online] A:92-95. Available at: http://en.aformes.enl.uoa.gr/issues-of-a-formes/issue-10-morfes-a.html.
  • Bolaki, S. (2006). More Room to Play in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street. The Journal of American Studies of Turkey 23:65-74.
  • Bolaki, S. (2005). ’This Bridge We Call Home’: Crossing and Bridging Spaces in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street. E-Sharp [Online] 5:1-14. Available at: http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_41166_en.pdf.
  • Bolaki, S. (2000). ? ????? ??? ??????????, The real thing, O ???????? ?? ?? ??????? ?????, ???????????:(Creative Writing: poems). ah!4mess [Online] 4:54-57. Available at: http://en.aformes.enl.uoa.gr/issues-of-a-formes/issue-4-ah-4mess.html.


  • May, K. (2020). Everyday Textures: Practices of Needlework, Meaning-Making and Socio-Political Transformation.
    Everyday Textures: Practices of Needlework, Meaning-Making and Socio-Political Transformation examines practices of needlework, specifically quilting, dressmaking, embroidery and knitting, and their narrative representations in the context of transnational feminist solidarity. This reseach is situated alongside a body of scholarly and popular discourses that have placed needlework and feminism either in direct opposition to each other or have heralded the generative connections between the two. By conceptualizing needlework as affective social practices of meaning-making, that is, as routine activities invested with emotion and entangled with concrete material and social conditions, I offer a generative framework for moving beyond such polarizing discourses. Using an inventive methods approach that includes interviews with makers as well as close readings of literary texts and the anlysis of textile artefacts, this thesis explores what types of political acts the everyday performance of needlework and its narrative renderings make possible.
    The sample of case studies is necessarily diverse because neither the everyday nor practices of needlework can be neatly fitted into disciplinary or methodological boundaries as they bridge that which is ordinary but also exceptional, forms of repetition, moments of disorientation and breakdown as well as potentiality. I critically engage with a number of text(ure)s: from the novels by African-American women writers, to the works of the US based youth organization the Social Justice Sewing Academy and the Afghan‒European embroidery initiative Guldusi, to the Pussyhat Project and the Women's March on Washington. Through this attention to texture on the level of everyday affective social practices of creative making, I follow different trajectories of meaning-making across the textured web of everyday feminist life lines. I argue that practices of needlework and their narrative representations make possible a politics of embodied orientation because they may move people physically and affectively towards new everyday imaginaries of social transformation. In addition, I show how practices of needlework allow for a dwelling in the potentiality of futurity and for a reconfiguration of relations based on the recognition of unequal flows of power and our affective attachments to them.

Book section

  • Bolaki, S. (2019). A Manifesto for Artists’ Books & the Medical Humanities. In: Bleakley, A. ed. Routledge Handbook of the Medical Humanities. New York: Routledge, pp. 220-233. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Routledge-Handbook-of-the-Medical-Humanities-1st-Edition/Alan/p/book/9780815374619.
  • Bolaki, S. (2015). Heterotopias of Illness. In: Palladino, M. and Miller, J. eds. The Globalization of Space: Foucault and Heterotopia. London: Pickering & Chatto, pp. 81-93.
  • Bolaki, S. and Broeck, S. (2015). Introduction: Audre Lorde’s Transnational Legacies. In: Bolaki, S. and Broeck, S. eds. Audre Lorde’s Transnational Legacies. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, pp. 1-19.
  • Bolaki, S. (2015). Maxine Hong Kingston, Feminism and Postmodern Literature. In: Srikanth, R. and Song, M. eds. The Cambridge History of Asian American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 271-286.
  • Bolaki, S. (2014). The Cultural Work of Disability and Illness Memoirs: Schizophrenia as Collaborative Life Narrative. In: Bolt, D. ed. Changing Social Attitudes to Disability: Perspectives from Historical, Cultural, and Educational Studies. London: Routledge, pp. 89-98.
  • Bolaki, S. (2013). ’This Bridge We Call Home’: Crossing and Bridging Spaces in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street. In: Lee, R. ed. U.S./Latino/A Writing. London: Routledge, p. 14 pages.
  • Ryan, D. (2012). From Spaniel Club to Animalous Society: Virginia Woolf’s Flush. In: Ryan, D. and Bolaki, S. eds. Contradictory Woolf: Selected Papers from the Twenty-First Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. Clemson University Press. Available at: http://www.clemson.edu/cedp/press/pubs/vwcon/21.html.
  • Bolaki, S. (2011). Turning the Classroom into a Debate Hall: Arguing about Racism in Heart of Darkness. In: Gibson, J. ed. Best in Show: Case Studies in Higher Education English. English Subject Centre, pp. 3-6.
  • Bolaki, S. (2011). Challenging Invisibility, Making Connections: Illness, Survival, and Black Struggles in Audre Lorde’s Work. In: Bell, C. ed. Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions. Münster: LIT Verlag, pp. 47-74.
  • Bolaki, S. (2010). Four Times Upon a Time: ‘Snow White’ Retold. In: Frus, P. and Williams, C. eds. Beyond Adaptation: Essays on Radical Transformations of Original Works. London: McFarland, pp. 181-193.
  • Bolaki, S. (2010). ’This Bridge We Call Home’: Crossing and Bridging Spaces in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street. In: Herrera-Sobek, M. ed. Critical Insights: The House on Mango Street. Pasadena: Salem Press, pp. 205-217.
  • Bolaki, S. (2007). Weaving Stories of Self and Community through Vignettes in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street. In: Harde, R. ed. Narratives of Community: Women’s Short Story Sequences. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 14-36.
  • Bolaki, S. (2007). ’Mourning Remains’: The Poetics and the Politics of Loss in Jamaica Kincaid’s At the Bottom of the River and Lucy. In: Harte, J. ed. Come Weep With Me: Loss and Mourning in the Writings of Caribbean Women Writers. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 164-180.


  • Alhamid, L. (2017). "You Can’t Bury Them All:" The Representation of Women in the Contemporary Iraqi Kurdish Novel in Bahdinan.
    This thesis aspires to place the literature of Bahdinan on the Kurdish literary map through reading contemporary Iraqi Kurdish novelistic discourse by Bahdini authors. It examines the women who inhabit the literary circles of Bahdinan today by focusing on the ways in which they are represented and the ways in which they determine to represent themselves. The study is the first fully and exclusively to investigate the literary representations and voices of Kurdish women in the novels by contemporary Bahdini male and female authors. In examining these novels, I capture the manners and mechanisms by which Kurdish women are represented in relation to the changing socio-political situation of Iraq. In reaction to the historical processes of marginalization and relegation by the different hegemonic structures in Iraq, the case of Kurdish novelistic discourse in Bahdinan offers new grounds for the depiction of the lives and experiences of Kurdish women.
    Focusing on the representation of female characters and themes, the thesis explores three pairs of novels published in Iraqi Kurdistan and its diaspora since the mid-2000s. The novels, which depict three successive periods of Iraq's recent history (1986-1991, 1992-2008, and 2009-2014), include Qasham Balata's Runaway to Nowhere (2010) and Sindis Niheli's Hizar Di Werçerxana Da, Bergê Êkê (Hizar and the Vicissitudes of Life, Part One, 2013) both of which depict a time of war and political conflicts, Sabri Silevani's Mariama: Kiçe-Jinek ji Zemanek Di (Mariama: A Woman from Another Time, 2007) and Tahsin Navishki's Tavge (2011) both of which explore gender norms and violence against women in the post-conflict Kurdish society and Tahsin Navishki's Alê Di Yê Prê (The Other Side of the Bridge, 2010) and Sindis Niheli's Hizar Di Werçerxana Da, Bergê Dwê (Hizar and the Vicissitudes of Life, Part Two, 2014) in which new forms of violence that have arisen in the current moment of criminality and terrorism are represented. A three-moment periodizing model is employed to analyze the novels' representation of women and the violence they experience in relation to modern Kurdish history according to three chronological interrelated phases: women and war-related violence, women and post-conflict violence, and women and terrorism-related violence.
    A feminist approach that intersects with a variety of fields including anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, and economics considers literature, particularly the novel, as an influential medium for the study of gender inequality and women's socio-political roles and interests. Adopting this model and employing textual and contextual approaches, the thesis explores the representation of the various forms and layers of violence against women during times of armed conflicts and political disputes. Kurdish women are depicted as suffering from growing levels of violence related to the traditional gender attitudes, patriarchal and tribal structures in addition to sexual and domestic war-related and post-conflict gender violence. The study also investigates the ways in which oppressed Kurdish women in Iraq resist violence, attempt to bring about change, and transform themselves from voiceless victims to influential social and political activists.
    Kurdish novelistic discourse in Bahdinan suggests that despite the significant absence of novelistic production by Kurdish women writers, male writers, writing with a sense of responsibility to their community, have effectuated the depiction of women-related themes in their works. It is concluded that with the establishment of the quasi-independent Kurdish region in Iraq in 1991 and the growing production of Bahdini novels, Kurdish novelists, both male and female, have come to place more emphasis on feminist subjects and themes than ever before. These novelists endeavour to highlight the Kurdish marginalized culture and silenced history in their writing while maintaining a feminist sense of representation through focusing on the lives and experiences of female characters. These novels, studied within and in relation to the postcolonial feminist canon, emphasize the ways in which ethno-national divisions as well as long-lasting political, social, economic and cultural effects of colonialism, armed-conflicts, and violence affect women. Thus, they can be justly described as testimonies to Kurdish women's pains and sufferings as well as their determination to resist violence and subordination, thereby contributing to the emerging Kurdish literature that can be most productively explored within a feminist and postcolonial frame.
  • Romén, R. (2016). Convolutions: Writing the Mind and the Neurology of the Literary Brain.
    A convolution is a loop, or a fold, as the folds of the brain are sometimes termed the cerebral convolutions. But it is a loop in another sense, in the way stories or narratives are often referred to as convolutions (or convoluted) if their plots and themes are complex and resist any linear, straightforward reading. These senses are well established, but in this thesis I propose a new interpretation of convolution (or convolving), as a metaphor for a type of process imbedded in multiple texts, discourses and disciplines, primary amongst which are literature, neuroscience and philosophy of mind. Highlighting this looping, reflexive process means actively engaging in it, as I do, and thus I ultimately promote the heretofore unremarked phenomenon of convolution as a self-conscious practice.

    The thesis tracks this overarching metaphor of convolutions through a series of sub-metaphors, or instantiations of convolutions, each of which comprises a chapter. The introductory chapter interrogates the revolutionary rhetoric of neuroscience, and proposes a convolutionary approach gleaned from literature to replace it. The first chapter proper explains that science sees itself as a quest with the brain its ultimate goal, but that more often than not, this quest is quixotic - and that if acknowledged, quixotism can actually be illuminating. The second chapter argues that neuroscientists paint themselves in the vein of literary detectives, and in doing so, are as susceptible to the genre's pitfalls as its boons. The third chapter claims that if the brain is a labyrinth, then so too is the brain science that deems it as such, and literature's treatment of the figure of the labyrinth (the treatment itself labyrinthine) can provide a productive framework for analysing this claim. The fourth chapter examines the unchallenged but ubiquitous metaphorical assumption that lies behind the idea of neurons firing, and asks if the overlooked ethical quandary at the nexus of brains and bullets would not benefit from the more self-aware ballistic analyses of literary texts. A concluding chapter brings all these overlapping threads together, suggesting how the notion of convolutions might have important ramifications beyond neuroscience and literature - for new textual methodologies and epistemological categories, for new interdisciplinary endeavours, and above all, for new conceptions of the self.
  • Alshammari, S. (2014). Madwomen Agents: Common Experiences in British Imperial, Postcolonial, and Bedouin Women’s Writing.

    British imperial culture and indigenous patriarchy both work to subjugate women. There is very little room for resistance. Madness as protest is a dominant theme in Victorian literature as well as late twentieth-century postcolonial writing by women. This thesis refashions our understanding of the madwoman trope by investigating writers’ use of it to capture the diverse experiences of ‘other’ madwomen. Instead of a strictly Eurocentric approach to female protagonists’ experiences of madness, the thesis places British imperial literary culture in the nineteenth century alongside postcolonial writing by women, whether in the Caribbean (Dominica), South Asia (India) or the Middle East and North Africa (Jordan and Egypt). Jeans Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, Fadia Faqir’s Pillars of Salt and Miral Al-Tahawy’s The Tent are placed alongside Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. A transnational approach is necessary to establish commonality between Eastern and Western women’s literary experiences of madness. Such commonality persistently emerges, once one is alert to its possibility, despite the often obvious differences between literary madwomen’s experiences in a transnational frame. The relationship between madness and empire, madness and patriarchy, and madwomen as agents of resistance is exemplified throughout the thesis by closely analysing each literary text.

Edited book

  • Bolaki, S. (2017). Prescriptions : Artists’ Books on Wellbeing and Medicine. Bolaki, S. and Ciricaite, E. eds. London: Natrix Natrix Press.
  • Bolaki, S. (2015). Audre Lorde’s Transnational Legacies. Bolaki, S. and Broeck, S. eds. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
    Among the most influential and insightful thinkers of her generation, Audre Lorde (1934–1992) inspired readers and activists through her poetry, autobiography, essays, and her political action. Most scholars have situated her work within the context of the women’s, gay and lesbian, and black civil rights movements within the United States. However, Lorde forged coalitions with women in Europe, the Caribbean, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa, and twenty years after her passing, these alliances remain largely undocumented and unexplored.

    Audre Lorde’s Transnational Legacies is the first book to systematically document and thoroughly investigate Lorde’s influence beyond the United States. Arranged in three thematically interrelated sections—Archives, Connections, and Work—the volume brings together scholarly essays, interviews, Lorde’s unpublished speech about Europe, and personal reflections and testimonials from key figures throughout the world. Using a range of interdisciplinary approaches, contributors assess the reception, translation, and circulation of Lorde’s writing and activism within different communities, audiences, and circles. They also shed new light on the work Lorde inspired across disciplinary borders.

    In addition to the volume editors, contributors include Sarah Cefai, Cassandra Ellerbe-Dueck, Paul M. Farber, Tiffany N. Florvil, Katharina Gerund, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Gloria Joseph, Jackie Kay, Marion Kraft, Christiana Lambrinidis, Zeedah Meierhofer-Mangeli, Rina Nissim, Chantal Oakes, Lester C. Olson, Pratibha Parmar, Peggy Piesche, Dagmar Schultz, Tamara Lea Spira, and Gloria Wekker.
  • Ryan, D. and Bolaki, S. (2012). Contradictory Woolf: Selected Papers from the Twenty-First Annual International Virginia Woolf Conference. Ryan, D. and Bolaki, S. eds. Clemson SC: Clemson University Digital Press.
  • Bolaki, S. (2009). Northern Light: New Writing 2008-09. Bolaki, S. and Boll, J. eds. Edinburgh: Scottish Universities’ International Summer School.

Edited journal

  • Bolaki, S. (2019). Introduction: Artists’ books and medical humanities by guest editor Stella Bolaki Bolaki, S. ed. Journal of Medical Humanities [Online] 41. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10912-019-09595-5.
  • Bolaki, S. and Gair, C. eds. (2015). Disability and the American Counterculture: Special issue of The Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies. [Online] 9.2. Available at: http://online.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/toc/jlcds/9/2.

Internet publication

  • Bolaki, S. (2018). Artists’ Books and Multisensory Experience: Reflections on Teaching a Visual Medical Humanities [Blog post]. Available at: https://thepolyphony.org/2018/11/12/artists-books-and-multisensory-experience-reflections-on-teaching-a-visual-medical-humanities/.
  • Bolaki, S. (2008). Turning the Classroom into a Debate Hall: Arguing about Racism in Heart of Darkness: Teaching Case Study [Online]. Available at: http://www.english.heacademy.ac.uk/explore/publications/casestudies/seminars/conrad.php.


  • Bolaki, S. (2018). Shahd Alshammari, Notes on the Flesh. USA: Faraxa Publishing, 2017. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies [Online] 12:249-252. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3828/jlcds.2018.19.
  • Bolaki, S. (2016). Review of The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities, edited by Anne Whitehead and Angela Wood (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). Centre for Medical Humanities Blog [Online]:.-. Available at: http://centreformedicalhumanities.org/edinburgh-companion-critical-medical-humanities-reviewed-dr-stella-bolaki/.
  • Bolaki, S. (2016). Review of Maria Rice Bellamy’s Bridges to Memory: Postmemory in Contemporary Ethnic American Women’s Fiction. Contemporary Women’s Writing [Online] 10:455-456. Available at: http://cww.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/05/31/cww.vpw017.extract.
  • Bolaki, S. (2016). Review of Chronic Youth: Disability, Sexuality, and U.S. Media Cultures of Rehabilitation. By Julie Passanante Elman. (New York and London: New York University Press, 2014, \$25.00). Pp. 243.isbn 978 1 4798 1822 8. Journal of American Studies [Online] 50:2 pages-N/A. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S002187581500256X.
  • Bolaki, S. (2013). Review of Katharina Gerund’s Transatlantic Cultural Exchange: African American Women’s Art and Activism in West Germany. CAAR Reviews [Online] n/a:1-3. Available at: http://www.caar-web.org/fileadmin/user_upload/files/Review_of_Katharina_Gerund.pdf.
  • Bolaki, S. (2011). Review of Alan Radley’s Works of Illness: Narrative, Picturing, and the Social Response to Serious Disease. Medical Humanities 37:130-131.
  • Bolaki, S. (2011). Review of La Vinia Delois Jennings’ Toni Morrison and the Idea of Africa. MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 36:203-205.
  • Bolaki, S. (2008). Review of Dean Franco’s Ethnic American Literature: Comparing Chicano, Jewish, and African American Writing. Callaloo 31:966-969.
  • Bolaki, S. and Rice, A. (2008). American Literature: The Twentieth Century. Section 5: African American Writing. The Year’s Work in English Studies [Online] 87:1049-1077. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ywes/mam017.
  • Bolaki, S. and Rice, A. (2007). American Literature: The Twentieth Century. Section 3: African American Writing. The Year’s Work in English Studies [Online] 86:932-953. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ywes/mam016.
  • Bolaki, S. (2006). Review of Thomas L. Jeffers’s Apprenticeships: The Bildungsroman from Goethe to Santayana. Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture XXXIX:165-171.
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