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Dr Maria VaccarellaMA(Naples), PhD(Rome)


Maria Vaccarella

Dr Maria VaccarellaMA(Naples), PhD(Rome)


Member of

Research interests

medical humanities; contemporary literature; literature and medicine; critical disability studies; graphic storytelling; narrative medicine; narrative bioethics; cultural studies; postcolonial literature and theory

I joined the Department of English at the University of Bristol in September 2015, after conducting postdoctoral research at the Centre for the Humanities and Health, King’s College London, first as a Marie Curie Intra-European Postdoctoral Research Fellow, then funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes. My first Eu-funded project explored contemporary literary responses to epilepsy diagnosis and treatment with a view of contributing to the development of narrative-based interventions in epileptology. My second postdoctoral project investigated the role of the medicalised ageing body in the construction of narrative unreliability. Before joining the medical humanistic adventure, I moved my first academic steps in postcolonial and Irish studies with my PhD dissertation on the cultural politics of Anglo-Irish comedy. I have merged my early and recent research interests in minor projects, e.g. a medical humanistic reading of James Joyce’s The Sisters and an exploration of William Wilde’s work to preserve Irish folk medicine.

I am currently working on a monograph project, provisionally titled Doctoring Stories. Biomedicine in Contemporary Western Literature, in which I elucidate what narrative theory can learn from illness narratives. In line with recent developments in postclassical narratology, I start from an appreciation of biomedicine as context and I explore to what extent it functions as a unifying, yet problematic factor in the development of narrative strategies.

I have recently developed an interest in narrative bioethics: together with Dr Mark Davis and Dr Silvia Camporesi, I worked on the project “Investigating Public Trust in Expert Knowledge: Ethics, Narrative and Engagement” (funded by Monash University), which looked at the role of narrative in the construction of trust within biopolitical matters. You can learn more about our initial activities here and here, as well as read our article in the Journal Of Bioethical Inquiry.



Consultation hours

Research supervision

I would welcome enquiries from students interested in pursuing doctoral work on any topic related to my research interests.



I currently teach on the following units:

  • (Y1) Critical Issues

  • (Y1) Texts in a Global Context
  • (Y2) Introduction to Medical Humanities

  • (Y3) Illness Narratives

  • (Y3) Literature and Medicine

  • (Y3) Literature 4

  • (MA) Introduction to Literary Research

  • (MA) Literature 1940-1970: Writing after the War

I became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2013.


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Postal address:
3-5 Woodland Road
United Kingdom