Catherine Reilly
Assistant Professor of Literature

Catherine (Cate) Reilly is a scholar of literature and theory specializing in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her research interests encompass comparative modernisms; the interwoven history of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and medicine; continental philosophy; critical theory; Marxism; Cold War Internationalisms; issues of subject formation; and the fraught legacies of deconstruction. Trained in comparative literature, she takes an interdisciplinary and theoretically-informed approach to her writing and teaching. Her work, broadly writ, addresses questions that fall at the juncture of language, aesthetics, and politics.

Her first book, Psychic Empire: Literary Modernism and the Clinical State makes the case that literary modernist texts from Russia, Austro-Hungary, and Imperial Germany disclose the rise of a mass demographic regulation of mental health as it emerged in the late nineteenth century and continues to hold sway globally in the present. The book frames this shift through introducing the concept of psychopower and psychopolitics as a counterpart to Michel Foucault’s category of biopower. Literary, theatrical, and visual works by Georg Büchner, Sigmund Freud, Vsevolod Ivanov, Daniel Paul Schreber, and Nikolai Evreinov illuminate psychopower’s role in modernity. They track its emergence during a fin de siècle representational shift that transformed the mind from a transcendental phenomenon (as it had been for Kant and Descartes) to a quantifiable, testable, and mathematized object in the human sciences. The book offers a new paradigm for interdisciplinary work. Modernism provides a commentary on the mind sciences, not merely a reflection of their findings.

Cate is currently in the process of preparing a second manuscript, Remains of Red Letters: Alternative Worlds Literature from the Cold War. This book offers an alternative epistemology of World Literature that recognizes the essential role played by the Cold War contest between Communism and capitalism in shaping its definition of “world.” Remains turns to the period of the Cold War to explore circuits of literary exchange between the Eastern Bloc and countries involved in the Afro-Asian Solidarity movement. It looks to these non-Western imaginations of worlding to as a platform to consider different modes of thinking the concept of world today.

Cate has advised multiple award-winning undergraduate thesis projects and looks forward to advising future thesis writers. She welcomes the chance to collaborate with Ph.D. students at all stages of their degree progression who are interested in working with the humanities’ aesthetic objects as a source of theoretical exploration and insight.

Office Hours

FALL 2022: Wednesdays 5-7 pm and by appointment.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

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