Portrait of Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalán

Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalán

Head of Department of Comparative Literature
Reader in Comparative Literature

About

Before taking up her 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 first monograph, Borges and Joyce: An Infinite Conversation (Routledge, Legenda Series in Comparative Literature, 2011) examines the nexus between James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges, writers renowned for their polyglot abilities, prodigious memories, cyclical conception of time, and labyrinthine creations, both of whom wrote from the ‘peripheral’ urban spaces of late-colonial Ireland and post-colonial Argentina. The book 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 tight confines of his miniaturistic fictions. 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. 

Her second book, Modernism and Latin America: Transnational Networks of Literary Exchange (Routledge, Twentieth-Century Literature Series, 2017) explores the impact of Empire on the literature of Latin American, Irish, and British modernist writers, engaging with the politics of world literature through writers’ networks, crossings, and histories of reception, translation, and circulation. Integrating comparative, historicist, and postcolonial conceptual frameworks, and including archival research, the book maps out the multifarious cultural dialogues between Latin America and Europe, focussing on writers like Borges, Beckett, Bolaño, Cortázar, Eliot, Joyce, Ocampo, Paz, and Woolf, amongst others. 

This comparative approach underpins her current book project, River Plate Modernism: Modernity, Empire, Transnationalism. Exploring the aesthetic practices of the ‘River Plate’ region in southern South America during the interwar period—when it experienced unprecedent economic and socio-cultural transformations—the book sets out to show how new literary histories can be imagined by repositioning the River Plate as the centre from which to conceive world literary exchanges. 

Research interests

Patricia's comparative research is located at the intersections between Modernist Studies, Comparative and World Literature, and Latin American Studies. She has received research funding from a variety of bodies, including the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (2019), the British Academy (2018), the Wellcome Trust (2011-2012), the Society for Irish Migration Studies in Latin America (2009) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2003-2007). 

Patricia is the editor of Virginia Woolf, Europe, and Peace: Transnational Circulations (with Ariane Mildenberg) (South Carolina: Clemson University Press, 2020) and Latin American and Iberian Perspectives on Literature and Medicine (Routledge, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature Series, 2015). 

Patricia has also published original articles in leading, peer-reviewed journals, including Woolf Studies Annual, Modernist Cultures, Modern Language Review, Comparative Literature, and Variaciones Borges, amongst others. She has recently written two chapters for the Jorge Luis Borges in Context volume (ed. by Robin Fiddian) published by Cambridge University Press (2020). 

At present, Patricia convenes the ‘Magazine and World Literature’ monthly Webinar Series, together with Professor Francesca Orsini (SOAS; MULOSIGE). The webinar series seek to expand our discussion of world literature to a consideration of the crucial role of magazines, and the particular configurations and happenstance visions and experiences of world literature they produced. 

In June 2019, she was the organiser (co-organiser, Professor Francesca Orsini, SOAS) of the University of Kent Comparative Literature Summer School. Funded by the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-east England (CHASE), the event offered intensive doctoral training in the principles and practices of Comparative Literature to students working on comparative and interdisciplinary projects. The summer school developed a new conceptual model that provided innovative responses to current world literature debates, including the introduction of new methodologies, such as horizontal comparativism and global South paradigms. 

Patricia was appointed External Examiner for the MSc programme in Comparative Literature of the University of Edinburgh in 2018.  

Invited papers, lectures, and presentations

Patricia has been invited to deliver research papers, keynotes, and lectures at University College London, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University of York, University of Kent, Rose Theatre Kingston, Institute of Modern Languages (Senate House), British Comparative Literature Association, and Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), amongst others. Internationally, she has been invited to speak at academic events in Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Argentina. 

In October 2020, Patricia appeared on the BBC’s THE FORUM programme entitled Jorge Luis Borges: Mixing the Magical with the Mundane, alongside Professor Evelyn Fishburn (University College London) and Professor Edwin Williamson (University of Oxford).

Teaching

Patricia teaches at undergraduate level on world literature, Latin American fiction, the tale, and global Shakespeares. She also teaches on the MA in Comparative Literature.   

Supervision

Patricia has supervised three doctoral students to successful completion and is currently supervising students working on topics related to world literature, transnational modernism, Latin American Studies, and medical humanities. She would be happy to take new PhD students working on the following areas: comparative and world literature, Latin American literature and culture, transnational modernisms, medical humanities, and the global South.   

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