Portrait of Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalán

Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalán

Head of Department of Comparative Literature
Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature

About

Before taking up a post in the Department of Comparative Literature at Kent in 2010, Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalán studied English and Comparative Literature at Birkbeck and at University College, London. Her doctoral thesis was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Patricia's latest monograph, Modernism and Latin America: Transnational Networks of Literary Exchange (Routledge, Twentieth-Century Literature Series, 2018) is the first in-depth exploration of the relationship between Latin American and European modernisms during the long twentieth century. Drawing on comparative, historical, and postcolonial reading strategies (including archival research), it seeks to reenergise the study of modernism by shining a spotlight on the cultural networks and aesthetic dialogues that developed between Latin American and European writers, including Pablo Neruda, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, Jorge Luis Borges, Victoria Ocampo, Roberto Bolaño, Julio Cortázar, Samuel Beckett, Octavio Paz, and Malcolm Lowry. 

Research interests

Patricia's interest in interdisciplinarity and the burgeoning discipline of the Medical Humanities has resulted in numerous publications, including book chapters, journal articles, and an edited collection. 

Latin American and Iberian Perspectives on Literature and Medicine (Routledge, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature Series, 2015) examines the representation of illness, disability, and cultural pathologies in modern and contemporary Iberian and Latin American literature. Innovative and interdisciplinary, the collection situates medicine as an important and largely overlooked discourse in these literatures, while also considering the social, political, religious, symbolic, and metaphysical dimensions underpinning illness. 

Her first monograph, Borges and Joyce: An Infinite Conversation (Routledge, Legenda Series in Comparative Literature, 2011) examines the nexus between two of the most revolutionary writers of the twentieth century, James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges. Both are renowned for their polyglot abilities, prodigious memories, cyclical conception of time, labyrinthine creations, and for their condition as European outsiders and blind bards of Dublin and Buenos Aires. 

Patricia is currently developing her third monograph on Modernism and the Rise of the Global South, aiming to elucidate how south-south networks prioritise cultural enrichment and solidarity through a shared understanding of questions of colonialism, travel, migration, translation, and aesthetic experimentation. 

Patricia is currently supervising doctoral projects on modern dystopias, the discourse of mesmerism in the works of Conan Doyle, Ramón y Cajal, and Ada Lovelace, and Turkish-Latin American literary relations. She welcomes enquiries from prospective research students in transnational modernisms, comparative literature, medical humanities, and the global South.

Teaching

Patricia teaches world literature, the epic, and literature and medicine.

Publications

Article

  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2017). Empire and Commerce in Latin America: Historicising Woolf’s The Voyage Out. Woolf Studies Annual [Online] 23:33-60. Available at: http://www.pace.edu/press/journals/woolf-studies-annual.
    In this article, I seek to recuperate the overlooked Latin American contexts that inform Virginia Woolf’s first novel, The Voyage Out (1915). Integrating archival research and a historicising approach, I utilise documentary evidence drawn from the research notes that Virginia Woolf conducted for Leonard Woolf’s study Empire and Commerce in Africa (1920), namely, empirical data relating to political-economic issues in Latin America and, more specifically, to countries such as Argentina and Brazil. In so doing, I demonstrate that Virginia Woolf puts the complex issue of Great Britain’s neocolonial domination in Latin America squarely on the cultural agenda of The Voyage Out. I suggest that the archival documents (housed at the Leonard Woolf archive, University of Sussex) acutely illustrate the extent of Britain’s disproportionate economic control of Argentina through the development of the meat industry that turned the Argentine Republic into the abattoir of the British Empire. I argue that this documentary evidence complements and complicates the political message of The Voyage Out, whereby Woolf mercilessly denounces Britain’s attempt to gain economic control of the continent through the predatory figure of Willoughby Vinrace and his high stakes in the meat trade. In the second part of the article, I shift my attention to issues of trade pertaining to the rubber boom in Amazonia in the early twentieth century. Specific references in The Voyage Out adumbrate Woolf’s awareness of human rights abuses perpetrated in the upper Amazon basin, testifying to her engagement with the geopolitical issues of her time, especially the vexed relationship between empire, capitalism, and modernity.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2017). Pablo Neruda’s Transnational Modernist Networks: Colombo-Madrid-London-Buenos Aires. Modernist Cultures [Online] 12:198-225. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/mod.2017.0168.
    This article positions Pablo Neruda’s poetry collection Residence on Earth I (written between 1925-1931 and published in 1933) as a ‘text in transit’ that allows us to trace the development of transnational modernist networks through the text’s protracted physical journey from British colonial Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to Madrid, and from José Ortega y Gasset’s Revista de Occidente (The Western Review) to T. S. Eliot’s The Criterion. By mapping the text’s (and Neruda's) diasporic movement, I seek to reinterpret its complex composition process as part of an anti-imperialist commitment that proposes a form of aesthetic solidarity with artistic modernism in Ceylon, on the one hand, and as a vehicle through which to interrogate the reception and categorisation of Latin American writers and their cultural institutions in a British periodical such as The Criterion, on the other. I conclude with an examination of Neruda’s idiosyncratic Spanish translation of Joyce’s Chamber Music, which was published in the Buenos Aires little magazine Poesía in 1933, positing that this translation exercise takes to further lengths his decolonising views by giving new momentum to the long-standing question of Hiberno-Latin American relations.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. and Gray, L. (2015). Beyond the Neuron: Ramón y Cajal and the Uses and Abuses of Hypnosis. Anglo Saxonica (Special guest issue edited by Brian Hurwitz) 3:59-76.
    Santiago Ramón y Cajal is widely known as the ‘father of neuroscience’ for his ground-breaking scientific research in the fields of histology and neurobiology. His work in this area laid the foundations of modern neuroscience and earned him the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1906. This public image of Cajal, however, only shows us the supreme scientist at work, the assiduous microscopist who revolutionised our understanding of the way that the human brain works. Cajal, in fact, is a more complex and multifaceted figure, since he was also a gifted artist, a prolific author of medical and literary works, and an indefatigable researcher whose scientific investigations include areas of study outside the field of neuroscience. As part of his diverse range of interests, Cajal became fascinated by the phenomenon of hypnotism, which ran broadly in parallel to his neuro-histological career.

    Cajal’s most noteworthy contribution to the field of hypnotism is a pioneering case study published in 1889 that proposes the use of hypnosis for the alleviation of pain during childbirth. The subject of hypnotism also features in Cajal’s fictional story, ‘The Fabricator of Honour’, which was included in the short story collection, Vacation Stories (written between 1885-1886; published in 1905). It is our argument that Cajal’s medical case study and his fictional story reveal not only a profound interest in the practice of hypnotism but also foreground both the benefits and the dangers of hypnotic methods. While the medical case study dispels the stigma of hypnotism as the domain of charlatans and quacks by considering its analgesic potential, the fictional story, on the other hand, is a cautionary tale on the perils of human manipulation and the potential outcomes on society and the individual.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2013). Transnational Modernist Encounters: Joyce, Borges, Bolaño and the Aesthetics of Expansion and Compression. Modern Language Review [Online] 108:341-367. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.5699/modelangrevi.108.2.0341.
    This article examines the literary relationship between Joyce, Borges, and Bolaño. After discussing Borges's and Bolaño's formative years as writers, during which both openly and self-consciously endorse a Joycean aesthetic, it argues that, as Borges and Bolaño gradually shift from the youthful tone of their early writings to the fictional canonicity of their later prose, their attitudes towards Joyce develop accordingly. Borges showcases his aesthetic of brevity as the antithetical response to Joyce's epic legacy. Bolaño adopts Joyce's accretive method of composition, resulting in the creation of his two multi-plotted and multi-voiced gargantuan masterpieces, Los detectives salvajes (1998) and 2666 (2004).
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2012). Androgynous Desire: Flaubert, Joyce, Puig, and the Tradition of the Female Quixote. Modern Language Review [Online] 107:1-19. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.5699/modelangrevi.107.1.0001.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2011). Literature and Disability: The Medical Interface in Borges and Beckett. Medical Humanities [Online] 37:38-43. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmh.2011.007476.
    Samuel Beckett and Jorge Luis Borges have presented 20th century literature with a distinctive gallery of solitary figures who suffer from a series of physiological ailments: invalidism, decrepitude, infirmity and blindness, as well as neurological conditions such as amnesia and autism spectrum disorders. Beckett and Borges were concerned with the dynamics between illness and creativity, the literary representation of physical and mental disabilities, the processes of remembering and forgetting, and the inevitability of death.

    This article explores the depiction of physically and mentally disabled characters in Borges' Funes the Memorious (1942)—a story about an Uruguayan gaucho who has been left paralysed after a fall from a horse which simultaneously endowed him with an infallible memory and perception—and Beckett's Trilogy: Molloy (1951), Malone Dies (1951) and The Unnamable (1953). It examines the prodigious memory of Funes and the forgetful minds of Molloy and Malone with reference to influential neuropsychological studies such as Alexander Luria's twofold exploration of memory and forgetfulness in The Mind of a Mnemonist (1968) and The Man with a Shattered World (1972).

    The article demonstrates that in contrast to Beckett's amnesiacs and Luria's brain-damaged patient, who are able to transcend their circumstances through cathartic writing, Borges' and Luria's mnemonic prodigies fail to achieve anything significant with their unlimited memories and remain imprisoned within their cognitive disabilities. It reveals that medical discourses can provide invaluable insights and lead to a deeper understanding of the minds and bodily afflictions of literary characters.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2009). The Theatre of Marina Carr: A Latin American Reading, Interview, and Translation. Irish Migration Studies in Latin America: Literature, Art and Culture (special edition) 7:145-153.
    This article brings together three interrelated parts: an interview with Marina Carr, a translator’s preface, and a fragmentary Spanish translation of her play By the Bog of Cats… (1998). The interview seeks to capture the unique voice of Carr in a relaxed and informal conversation that reflects on her life, theatre, influences, as well as her overall fascination with Spanish and Latin American literature. The translation is the first rendering of By the Bog of Cats… into Spanish. It is preceded by a translator’s prologue which offers a discussion of Carr’s drama and comments upon the several difficulties encountered during the translation.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. and Izarra, L. (2009). Introduction: Literary Connections between Ireland and Latin America. Irish Migration Studies in Latin America: Literature, Art and Culture (special edition) 7:133-135.
    Special issue of 'Irish Migration Studies in Latin America', 7.2
    Novillo-Corvalan P, and Izarra, L: Guest Editors
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2008). Jorge Luis Borges, Translator of "Penelope". James Joyce Broadsheet [Online] 79:1-1. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30076635.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2008). Rereading Cortázar’s Hopscotch through Joyce’s Ulysses. Moveable Type 4:56-84.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2008). Joyce’s and Borges’s Afterlives of Shakespeare. Comparative Literature 60:207-227.
    Presents literary criticism which explores the depiction of William Shakespeare seen in the writings of the Irish author James Joyce and Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges. An overview of the various interpretations of the literary traditions of Shakespeare seen in both the authors' works are discussed, highlighting the blending of Elizabethan, Romantic, Victorian, and contemporary scholarship and critical views.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2008). James Joyce, Author of "Funes the Memorious". Variaciones Borges 26:56-84.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2007). Literary Migrations: Homer’s Journey through Joyce’s Ireland and Walcott’s St. Lucia. Irish Migration Studies in Latin America 5:157-162.
    This paper examines the literary kinship found in the works of Derek Walcott, James Joyce and Homer. Principally, it explores the way in which Walcott transplanted the classical epic tradition onto his Caribbean island of Saint Lucia in the wake of Joyce’s similar shifting of the Odyssey to twentieth-century Dublin. It argues that Walcott forged a colonial affiliation with Irish literature, which he used as a model for his reflections on the linguistic, cultural and historical situation of Saint Lucia. The paper concludes with Walcott’s homage to Joyce in his epic poem Omeros, which underlines the significant fact that the epic genre is not a fixed form of yesteryear, but rather a fluid, living category that travels across cultures and languages and acquires richer, more complex meanings through each of these migrations.

Book

  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2017). Modernism and Latin America: Transnational Networks of Literary Exchange. [Online]. New York: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Modernism-and-Latin-America-Transnational-Networks-of-Literary-Exchange/Novillo-Corvalan/p/book/9781138218505.
    This book is the first in-depth exploration of the relationship between Latin American and European modernisms during the long twentieth century. Drawing on comparative, historical, and postcolonial reading strategies (including archival research), it seeks to reenergize the study of modernism by putting the spotlight on the cultural networks and aesthetic dialogues that developed between European and non-European writers, including Pablo Neruda, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, Jorge Luis Borges, Victoria Ocampo, Roberto Bolaño, Julio Cortázar, Samuel Beckett, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, and Malcolm Lowry. The book explores a wide range of texts that reflect these writers’ complex concerns with questions of exile, space, empire, colonization, reception, translation, human subjectivity, and modernist experimentation. By rethinking modernism comparatively and by placing this intricate web of cultural interconnections within an expansive transnational (and transcontinental) framework, this unique study opens up new perspectives that delineate the construction of a polycentric geography of modernism. It will be of interest to those studying global modernisms, as well as Latin American literature, transatlantic studies, comparative literature, world literature, translation studies, and the global south.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2011). Borges and Joyce: An Infinite Conversation. [Online]. Vol. 24. Oxford, UK: Legenda. Available at: http://www.legendabooks.com/titles/isbn/9781907625053.html.
    Borges and Joyce stand as two of the most revolutionary writers of the twentieth-century. Both are renowned for their polyglot abilities, prodigious memories, cyclical conception of time, labyrinthine creations, and for their shared condition as European émigrés and blind bards of Dublin and Buenos Aires. Yet at the same time, Borges and Joyce differ in relation to the central aesthetic of their creative projects: the epic scale of the Irishman contrasts with the compressed fictions of the Argentine. In this comprehensive and engaging study, Patricia Novillo-Corvalán demonstrates that Borges created a version of Joyce refracted through the prism of his art, thus encapsulating the colossal magnitude of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake within the confines of a nutshell. Separate chapters triangulate Borges and Joyce with the canonical legacy of Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare using as a point of departure Walter Benjamin’s notion of the afterlife of a text. This ambitious, interdisciplinary study offers a model for Comparative Literature in the twenty-first century.

Book section

  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2018). Prologo. In: Angel De Estrada, Un Hombre Entre Dos Mundos: Del Romanticismo Al Modernismo De Dario. Argentina: Editorial Sur.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2015). Introduction: Latin American and Iberian Perspectives on Literature and Medicine. In: Novillo-Corvalan, P. ed. Latin American and Iberian Perspectives on Literature and Medicine. New York: Routledge, pp. 1-22.
    This introductory chapter offers an overview and a reappraisal of the emerging field of the medical humanities from the ars medica in Ancient Greece to the significance of the ‘two cultures’ debate in the study of literature and medicine, and the recent rise of the genre of the ‘pathography’ or illness narrative, taking as a point of departure Susan Sontag’s seminal treatise Illness as Metaphor (1978). The chapter also considers the various ways in which Iberian and Latin American literature can enrich and offer valuable insights to the medical humanities, showing that critical perspectives outside the mainstream Anglo-American paradigm can provide important case studies for contemporary debates about cultural representations of health and disease.
  • Rowlandson, W. (2015). Asthma and its Symbolism: The Respiratory Aesthetics of José Lezama Lima. In: Novillo-Corvalan, P. ed. Latin American and Iberian Perspectives on Literature and Medicine. Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Latin-American-and-Iberian-Perspectives-on-Literature-and-Medicine/Novillo-Corvalan/p/book/9781138823907.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2015). Explorers of the Human Brain: The Neurological Insights of Borges and Ramon y Cajal. In: Novillo-Corvalan, P. ed. Latin American and Iberian Perspectives on Literature and Medicine. New York: Routledge, pp. 23-44.
    This chapter investigates the literary and scientific nexus between the Spanish writer-physician and Nobel laureate, Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934) and the Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). In the first part, I explore the complex interplay between art and medicine in the work of Cajal by examining his ground-breaking scientific research vis-à-vis his artistic and literary production. In the second part of the chapter, I focus on Cajal’s science fiction story ‘The Corrected Pessimist’ (1905) and Borges’s celebrated ficción ‘Funes the Memorious’ (1942), arguing that both tales yield provocative hypotheses based on the creation of characters simultaneously gifted and afflicted with superhuman powers of vision and memory respectively that eventually render their lives unbearable. This line of enquiry seeks to show that Cajal and Borges apply analogous philosophico-scientific premises to their fictions and reach parallel conclusions. Their compelling fictional narratives reveal an epistemological preoccupation with what Oliver Sacks has defined as the ‘neurology of identity’ (Sacks 1985), particularly the way in which sensory perceptions and memory determine our understanding of the world and shape our notion of the self.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2014). Reinterpreting the Wound of Philoctetes: A Case Study in Literature and Medicine. In: Bates, V., Bleakley, A. and Goodman, S. eds. Medicine, Health and the Arts: Approaches to the Medical Humanities. New York: Routledge, pp. 128-144.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. Mistral and Woolf: Transnational Pacifist Networks. In: Mildenberg, A. and Novillo-Corvalan, P. eds. Virginia Woolf, Europe and Peace: Transnational Circulations. Clemson: Clemson University Press.

Edited book

  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. ed. (2015). Latin American and Iberian Perspectives on Literature and Medicine. [Online]. Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Latin-American-and-Iberian-Perspectives-on-Literature-and-Medicine/Novillo-Corvalan/p/book/9781138823907.
    The collection is the first study to examine the representation of illness, disability, and cultural pathologies in modern and contemporary Iberian and Latin American literature. Innovative and interdisciplinary, the collection situates medicine as an important and largely overlooked discourse in these literatures, while also considering the social, political, religious, symbolic, and metaphysical dimensions underpinning illness.

    Investigating how Ibero-American writers have reflected on the personal and cultural effects of illness, it raises central questions about how medical discourses, cultural pathologies, and the art of healing in general are represented. The essays within the book pay particular attention to the ways in which these interdisciplinary dialogues chart new directions in the study of Hispanic and Lusophone cultures, and emerging disciplines such as the medical humanities. Addressing a wide range of themes and subjects including bioethics, neuroscience, psychosurgery, medical technologies, Darwinian evolution, indigenous herbal medicine, the rising genre of the pathography, and the 'illness as metaphor' trope, the collection engages with the discourses of cultural studies, gender studies, disability studies, comparative literature, and the medical humanities. This book enriches and stimulates scholarship in these areas by showing how much we still have to gain from interdisciplinary studies working at the intersections between the humanities and the sciences.
  • Izarra, L. and Novillo-Corvalan, P. eds. (2009). Literary Connections Between Ireland and Latin America: Literature, Art and Culture (special Journal Issue). Vol. 7 (2). Society for Irish Latin American Studies (SILAS).

Review

  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2019). Book Review. The Modern Language Review [Online] 114:388-390. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5699/modelangrevi.114.2.0388.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2014). Joyce’s Legacy in Spain. James Joyce Broadsheet 98:2-2.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2011). Review of José Luis Venegas, ’Decolonizing Modernism: James Joyce and the Development of Spanish American Fiction’. James Joyce Broadsheet 87:2-2.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2010). Review of Roberto Bolaño and A.G. Porta, ’Consejos de un discípulo de Morrison a un fanático de Joyce’. James Joyce Broadsheet 86:2-2.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2010). Review of Richard Brown (ed.) ’A Companion to James Joyce’ Brown, R. ed. Comparative Critical Studies 7:411-415.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2010). Review of Vike Martina Plock, ’Joyce, Medicine, and Modernity’. Irish University Review 40:231-34.

Forthcoming

  • Mildenberg, A. and Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2019). Introduction: A Pacifist Polylogue. In: Mildenberg, A. and Novillo-Corvalan, P. eds. Virginia Woolf, Europe and Peace: Transnational Circulations. Clemson, South Carolina: Clemson University Press.
  • Mildenberg, A. (2019). Virginia Woolf, Carnal Hermeneutics, and Democratic Reading. In: Mildenberg, A. and Novillo-Corvalan, P. eds. Virginia Woolf, Europe and Peace: Transnational Circulations. Clemson, South Carolina: Clemson University Press. Available at: https://www.clemson.edu/centers-institutes/press/books/index.html.
  • Mildenberg, A. and Novillo-Corvalan, P. eds. (2019). Virginia Woolf, Europe and Peace: Transnational Circulations. Clemson, South Carolina: Clemson University Press.
  • Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2018). Borges’s Shakespeare. In: Fiddian, R. ed. Borges in Context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
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