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Dr Joanna Rzepa

In January 2019 I took up a lectureship in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex. For up-to-date information on my research, please visit my Essex profile.
I completed my PhD in English and Comparative Literary Studies in 2015. My thesis was entitled Literary and Theological Modernisms and sought to re-establish the place of theology within the field of modernist studies. In 2015-2016 I was an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick, and in 2016-2017 an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub, Arts and Humanities Research Institute. In 2017-2018 I held the post of Thomas Brown Assistant Professor in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies, Trinity College Dublin.

Postdoctoral Project: 'Translating Auschwitz: The Holocaust and the Politics of Representation'

The project offers a pioneering approach to the study of Holocaust literature in translation. It seeks to gain a greater understanding of how Polish Holocaust narratives were given or denied a chance to reach a global readership via the medium of English language translations. It deploys an interdisciplinary framework that comprises historical archival methods, close textual analysis, and comparative translation criticism, in order to establish how processes of translation affected the dissemination, reading and reception of Polish Holocaust literature.

Doctoral Thesis: 'Literary and Theological Modernisms: Rainer Maria Rilke, T. S. Eliot, and Józef Wittlin'

My PhD thesis explored the complex relationship between cultural and aesthetic modernism and modernist theology, focusing on the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, T. S. Eliot, and Józef Wittlin. Discussing the modernist poetics of religious experience in the context of the theological debates of the early twentieth century, I aimed to establish parallels between Rilke’s, Eliot’s, and Wittlin’s critical and poetic explorations of the relationship between individual experience and inherited spiritual tradition. I suggested that a closer investigation of the key notions discussed in the theological debates of the period (including unprecedented interest in mysticism and mystical experience, and the so-called modernist controversy in the Roman Catholic Church) helps us understand the nature of the modernist poetics of religious experience and appreciate the historical context from which it stemmed.

Conferences and Publications

You can find more information on my publications and the papers I have presented at conferences on my Conferences and Publications website.


In the academic year 2015-2016 I taught Polish in the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London.
In March 2014 I successfully completed the ‘Postgraduate Award: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education’ programme run by Warwick's Learning and Development Centre and became an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Since 2013, I have taught a postgraduate module on English-Polish and Polish-English translation at the Polish University Abroad (PUNO) in London.

In the academic year 2012-2013 I taught weekly seminars for the core undergraduate module EN122 Modes of Reading.

I have experience in teaching Polish as a foreign and second language at all levels of language proficiency. I worked as a language tutor at the summer courses run by the Jagiellonian University School of Polish Language and Culture in Kraków in 2011 and 2012.


Other Activities

In January 2016, I organised a two-day interdisciplinary conference on the topic of 'Translation and Modernism: Twentieth-Century Crises and Traumas'. The keynote speakers included Prof. Susan Bassnett (Warwick), Prof. Jean Boase-Beier (UEA), and Prof. Peter Davies (Edinburgh). The event was supported by the Institute of Advanced Study, the Global Research Priorities: Connecting Cultures, the Migration, Identity, and Translation Network (Monash-Warwick Alliance), the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, and the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies.

Since November 2011, I have co-organised the Theology Reading Group, hosted by the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies and the Comparative Religions and Literatures (CoRAL) research group. It is an informal and interdisciplinary group that focuses on selected reading materials on agreed-upon themes, and aims at creating a lively space for the discussion of relations between religion and culture.

During the academic years 2011-12 and 2012-13, I was involved in running the Arts Faculty Seminar Series, funded by the Humanities Research Centre. It brought together postgraduate research students from all Centres and Departments within the Arts Faculty, creating a friendly environment in which they can present and discuss their research.

Professional Associations

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Member of the British Association of Modernist Studies, the European Network for Comparative Literary Studies and the Milton Society of America


Dr Joanna Rzepa


joanna dot rzepa at essex dot ac dot uk