KATHARINA NATALIA PIECHOCKI
I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature, where I specialize in early modern European literature. I joined the faculty at Harvard in July 2013, after completing a PhD. in Comparative Literature at NYU (May 2013) and a Dr.Phil. in the Romance Studies Department at Vienna University (January 2009). I studied French, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, and Theater, Film, and Media Studies at the University of Vienna and Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle. My particular research and teaching focus is on cartography, translation studies, gender studies, opera, and theater, as well as theories of world cinema. Working in ten linguistic traditions—Italian, French, Portuguese, German, Polish, Spanish, Latin, ancient Greek and (beginning) Arabic, besides English—my research and teaching, interdisciplinary in nature, center on canonical texts alongside untranslated and/or less-studied authors.
RECENT AND CURRENT BOOK PROJECTS:
Cartographic Humanism: The Making of Early Modern Europe was recently published with the University of Chicago Press (2019). This book traces the emergence of Europe as a continent at a particularly momentous turning point in its formation: when a new imagining of Europe was driven by the rise of a novel humanistic discipline—cartography. By focusing on German, Polish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Neo-Latin literary and cartographic traditions, Cartographic Humanism analyzes the emergence of Europe as a continent from the vantage point of cartography, poetics, philology, and translation as interlocking humanistic practices. Cartographic Humanism has recently been reviewed by Corrado Confalonieri in the Italian comparative literature journal Between and by Joad Raymond in Times Higher Education. A book launch took place at Harvard University in November 2019.
I am currently working on a new book project and two edited volumes:
Hercules: Procreative Poetics and the Rise of the Opera Libretto, which I am currently completing, takes in a new direction my research on Europe’s early modern literary and cultural production. In this book, I redirect our understanding of opera by making a dual shift: from music to the poetics of the libretto, and from Orpheus—commonly associated with the novel blend of word and music around 1600—to Hercules, a figure frequently mobilized in early librettos to allegorically represent ruling monarchs. I investigate the emergence of the opera libretto as a new literary genre from the perspective of gender politics, performance practices, medical discourses, and the rise of absolutism. Built around four case studies, Hercules mobilizes the mythical figure of Hercules to bring together the two seemingly disconnected epistemologies of artistic creation and bodily procreation into a relationship of signification. I term procreative poetics the novel bonds among literary, medical, political, and gender discourses which coalesced, with the figure of Hercules, into the poetics of early European opera.
Romance Quarterly, special double-issue (68:2 and 68:3, 2021) on "Clouds" (co-edited with Jeffrey N. Peters).
The Future of Geography is a volume that I'm currently co-editing with Tom Conley. The essays collected in this volume identify a set of urgent questions pertaining to the future of geography: as Geography Departments are disappearing from several universities across the US while emerging and thriving in others, and geographic knowledge is diffusing itself and taking on new forms: where and how is knowledge related to space, geography, and mapping currently produced, articulated, and preserved? Which forms will geography most likely take on in the years to come? Who “owns” geographic knowledge and how is it used? How does the current distribution of geography departments worldwide inform and transform our idea of the world, its centers and peripheries? What shape will virtual geography most likely take in the near future?
FELLOWSHIPS AND GRANTS:
My research has been supported by numerous international and national fellowships and grants. For 2020-21, I was awarded the Ahmanson Fellowship at the Villa I Tatti (Harvard Renaissance Center) in Florence which will allow me to complete my book manuscript on "Hercules." In July 2019, I was the inaugural fellow at the newly founded Europe-Center at the University of Konstanz, Germany, where I discussed the role of Europe within the world in an international panel. In 2015-16, I was a Distinguished Junior External Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center (Stanford Humanities Center Q&A, June 2016) and I spent Spring 2017 as a research fellow at the IFK (Internationales Forschungszentrum für Kulturwissenschaften) in Vienna. I was awarded, among others, the John F. Cogan Junior Faculty Leave fellowship from Harvard’s Davis Center, the Harvard Radcliffe Institute Academic Ventures grant, William F. Milton Endowment Research Grant, Andrew Mellon Foundation Summer Grant, Global Fellowship for NYU-in-Florence, Rothenberg Fund for the Humanities, and a Research Fellowship from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science. A faculty conference grant from Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs allowed me to explore, together with my colleague Tom Conley, the interdisciplinary question of “The Future of Geography.”