Professor Amelia DeFalco
- Position: Professor of Contemporary Literature
- Areas of expertise: Medical humanities (ageing, care, dementia, (bio)technology, disability, graphic medicine), 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: Imagining Posthuman Care | Twitter | Googlescholar | Researchgate | ORCID
I joined the University of Leeds in 2016 as 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.
My research concerns representations of ageing, care, vulnerability and the posthuman in contemporary cultural narratives.
My first book, Uncanny Subjects: Aging in Contemporary Narrative, explores how ageing, in particular, ageing 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. 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), 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 broadens the scope of my previous work by theorizing care beyond the human. From this research, a number of projects have emerged:
- A forthcoming monograph, Curious Kin: Fictions of Posthuman Care, explores the intersection of posthuman vulnerability and ethics of care. This work seeks to reimagine and reinvigorate the meaning of care in light of growing awareness of human/nonhuman interdependencies, affective, biological, and ecological. My initial foray into this material was published in Body and Society.
- I recently completed an AHRC Leadership Fellowship Imagining Posthuman Care (2021–2022) examining how representations of human/robot relationships can help us imagine and interpret the ethical, political, and philosophical implications of nonhuman care. This project culminated in the exhibition ‘Can Robots Care?’ at the Thackray Museum of Medicine.
- I am conducting research on nonhuman touch through a series of workshops and publications, including a 2017–18 LHRI Sadler Seminar Series Touch: Sensing, Feeling, Knowing, a 2022 Brocher Institute Workshop and a co-edited special issue of the journal The Senses and Society (with Dr Luna Dolezal) on affective technotouch.
- I am co-investigator on Imagining Technologies for Disability Futures, a Wellcome Collaborative Award in Humanities and Social Scienes (2020–2025). As Co-I, I lead care-focused research on cultural imaginings of disability, care and embodiment.
Projects & Awards
- “LivingBodiesObjects” Wellcome Research Development Award (Co-I), 2022–2025
- “Imagining Posthuman Care” Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Leadership Fellowship, (PI), 2021–2022
- "Imagining Technologies for Disability Futures," Wellcome Collaborative Award in Humanities and Social Scienes (Co-I), 2020–2025
- "Robot Care: Critical Perspectives on Ethics and Design," Wellcome ISSF Discipline Hopping Fellowship (PI), 2019
- “The Ethics and Aesthetics of Intimate Robot Care,” British Academy Small Research Grant (PI), 2018–2019
- “Touch: Sensing, Feeling, Knowing," Ignite Award, Cultural Institute, University of Leeds, 2018
- “Touch: Sensing, Feeling, Knowing,” Leeds Sadler Seminar Series (Co-convener), 2017–2018
- “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
- 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
- biotech, robots, the posthuman
- affect theory and new materialism
Research groups and institutes
- Medical Humanities Research Group