Comparative Literature

profile image for Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalán

Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalán

Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature

Head of Department

Office: Cornwallis North-West 207

Office hours: Fridays, 2-4pm


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

My 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. The book explores a wide range of texts that reflect these writers’ complex concerns with questions of exile, space, empire, colonisation, reception, translation, human subjectivity, and modernist experimentation. By rethinking modernism comparatively and by placing this intricate web of cultural interconnections within an expansive transnational framework, this unique study opens 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.

My 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. And yet the epic scale of the Irishman contrasts with the compressed ficciones of the Argentine. The book argues that Borges forged a version of Joyce refracted through his own aphoristic impulses, thus offering a fragmentary translation of Molly Bloom’s unpunctuated soliloquy, the ideal insomniac reader of Finnegans Wake in his story ‘Funes the Memorious’, and an irreverent resumé of Ulysses in several of his fictions. These cross-cultural patterns, I show, are enabled by the condition of exile and via the international movement of people, texts, and ideas operating across a transnational framework and a comparative methodology.

I am currently in the process of developing my third monograph on Modernism and the Rise of the Global South. My aim is 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. I am now working on Chapter 1, which explores Indo-Argentine cultural networks via the meeting between the Bengali author, artist, and educationalist Rabindranath Tagore and the Argentine writer, publisher, and feminist Victoria Ocampo.

In addition, my 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. The latter, titled 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. 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.

Research supervision

I am 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. I would be interested to hear from prospective research students in the following areas: transnational modernisms; comparative literature; medical humanities, and the global South.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2017). Modernism and Latin America: Transnational Networks of Literary Exchange. [Online]. New York: Routledge. Available at:
Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2011). Borges and Joyce: An Infinite Conversation. [Online]. Oxford, UK: Legenda. Available at:
Edited book
Novillo-Corvalan, P. ed. (2015). Latin American and Iberian Perspectives on Literature and Medicine. [Online]. Routledge. Available at:
Izarra, L. and Novillo-Corvalan, P. eds. (2009). Literary Connections between Ireland and Latin America: Literature, Art and Culture (special journal issue). Society for Irish Latin American Studies (SILAS).
Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2017). Pablo Neruda's Transnational Modernist Networks: Colombo-Madrid-London-Buenos Aires. Modernist Cultures [Online] 12:198-225. Available at:
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:
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.
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:
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:
Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2011). Literature and Disability: The Medical Interface in Borges and Beckett. Medical Humanities [Online] 37:38-43. Available at:
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.
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.
Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2008). James Joyce, Author of "Funes the Memorious". Variaciones Borges 26:56-84.
Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2008). Joyce's and Borges's Afterlives of Shakespeare. Comparative Literature 60:207-227.
Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2008). Rereading Cortázar's Hopscotch through Joyce's Ulysses. Moveable Type 4:56-84.
Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2008). Jorge Luis Borges, Translator of "Penelope". James Joyce Broadsheet [Online] 79:1-1. Available at:
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.
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). 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.
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.
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. (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.
Novillo-Corvalan, P. (2018). Borges's Shakespeare. in: Fiddian, R. ed. Borges in Context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Total publications in KAR: 27 [See all in KAR]
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I teach modules on world literature, the epic, and literature and medicine.

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Comparative Literature, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 827159 or email the department

Last Updated: 06/12/2017