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Catherine Reilly

Assistant Professor of Literature
Campus Box 90670, Durham, NC 27708
101A Friedl Building, 1316 Campus Drive, Durham, NC 27708
Office hours : SPRING 2024 | Wednesdays 12-2 pm and by appointment.  


Cate I. Reilly (Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Princeton University, 2017) is a scholar of literature and theory. Her research uses her training in Central and Eastern European literatures and languages to inform a study of comparative modernisms, the relationship between science and culture in a global frame (with special attention to psychoanalysis, the history of psychiatry, and the neurosciences), Cold War internationalism in the wake of decolonization, and globalization’s impact on subject formation. Her work is in close dialogue with the aesthetico-political currents of French and Francophone theory from a postcolonial perspective. She works in Russian, German, French, and Italian. C.V. upon request. 

Her first book, Psychic Empire: Literary Modernism and the Clinical State (forthcoming, Columbia University Press, May 2024. Modernist Latitudes Series) makes the case for a modernist literary prehistory to today’s increasingly globalized and assertively homogenized standards for mental health and illness. The book traces the intersection between the systematization of psychiatric disease categories and the rise of modern nation states. Modernist aesthetic works from Germany, Austro-Hungary and Eastern Europe reveal the hidden story of how nineteenth-century efforts to standardize mental illness categories for national populations conditioned the terms and presuppositions undergirding the contemporary DSM and cognitive neurosciences. These texts historicize the mind sciences’ formation, rather than offering narratives of diagnosable mental illnesses. Keywords & Concepts: Psychopolitics, psychopower, counterdisciplinarity, global modernism, diagnostic reading, neuromimesis.

Her second manuscript in preparation, The End of the World Literature: Cold War Imaginaries for the Anthropocene engages debates on World Literature from a perspective informed by eco-criticism and the neurohumanities. The 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.” It 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. Non-Western imaginaries offer a framework for thinking the concept of world in the Anthropocene.

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

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Assistant Professor of Literature · 2017 - Present Literature, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences