Dr Amelia DeFalco
- Position: University Academic Fellow
- Areas of expertise: Medical humanities (ageing & disability studies, graphic medicine, care & vulnerability), posthumanism, affect studies & new materialism, contemporary literature & film
- Email: A.I.DeFalco@leeds.ac.uk
- Phone: +44(0)113 343 2693
- Location: 2.07 House 10
- Website: ORCID
I joined the University of Leeds in 2016 as a University Academic Fellow in Medical Humanities. Previously, I was a Banting postdoctoral fellow in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, Canada.
- Co-Director, Centre for Medical Humanities
My research concerns representations of aging, illness, disability and care in contemporary literature and film. In my first book, Uncanny Subjects: Aging in Contemporary Narrative, I argue that aging, in particular, aging into old age, introduces subjects to a strangely familiar selfhood -- that is, to their own uncanniness – by producing a sense of alienation as the self becomes split between the authentic, familiar, youthful self and the false, strange, older one. The literary narratives I explore in Uncanny Subjects expose the spuriousness of this division, the degree to which we are always, already, in Julia Kristeva’s words, “strangers to ourselves,” by which she refers to an internal strangeness, one that aging exposes, I argue, rather than creates.
Investigations into dementia and identity conducted for Uncanny Subjects inspired my second major research project on literature and care, for which I received the 2009 Polanyi Prize for Literature, awarded by the Ontario provincial government (in Canada) to outstanding early-career researchers, as well as a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. The research I conducted as a Banting fellow evolved into my second book, Imagining Care: Responsibility, Dependency, and Canadian Literature, which responds to ongoing debates over definitions and evaluative models in the philosophy of care, proposing literature (fiction, life writing, and graphic memoirs) as a means of determining both what it is to give and receive care, and how to interpret such performances of care. At the same time, the book suggests that literary explorations of caregiving have much to offer the larger understanding of how we imagine and construct the meaning of care in contemporary Canadian culture, often destabilizing the popular notion of Canada as a “caring” nation.
My current research project, Curious Kin: Fictions of Posthuman Care, concerns the intersection of posthumanism, vulnerability studies and ethics of care. This work investigates concepts of dependency and vulnerability to reimagine and reinvigorate the meaning of care in light of a growing awareness of human/nonhuman interdependencies, affective, biological, and ecological. Related to this research, I co-organized the 2017-18 LHRI Sadler Seminar Series “Touch: Sensing, Feeling, Knowing” and co-edited a collection ethics and affects in the work of Alice Munro, the Canadian Nobel prize-winning short story writer, with Professor Lorraine York.
Projects & Awards
“The Ethics and Aesthetics of Intimate Robot Care,” British Academy Small Research Grant (PI), 2018-19
“Touch: Sensing, Feeling, Knowing," Ignite Award, Cultural Institute, University of Leeds, 2018
“Touch: Sensing, Feeling, Knowing,” Leeds Sadler Seminar Series (Co-convener), 2017-18
“Augmenting the Body,” Wellcome Trust Seed Award (Collaborator), 2017
“Future of Care Initiative,” Leeds Humanities Research Institute Pump Priming Award (PI), 2017
"Imagining Care," Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship (PI), 2011-2013
John Charles Polanyi Prize in Literature, 2009
"Labour and Love: The Ethics of Caregiving in Canadian Literature," Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship (PI), 2007-2009
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>
- PhD (University of Toronto)
- MA (McMaster University)
- BA (University of Toronto)
- Northern Network of Medical Humanities Research (NNMHR)
- European Network of Aging Studies (ENAS)
- North American Network of Aging Studies (NANAS)
- European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST)
I teach core and option modules on twentieth-century literature, medical humanities, and animal studies in the School of English.
I welcome enquiries from potential postgraduate researchers interested in critical medical humanities, especially representations of ageing, dementia, disability, care, and/or graphic medicine; posthumanism; animal studies; affect theory and new materialism; comics, film, and/or visual culture.
Research groups and institutes
- Medical Humanities Research Group