Marta Figlerowicz

Marta Figlerowicz's picture
Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and of English

Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 2013
M.A. University of California, Berkeley, 2011
B.A. Harvard University, 2009

I am a theorist of literature from the eighteenth century to the present and of contemporary visual media. Within these timeframes, I study how aesthetic objects depict and mediate interpersonal and trans-cultural communication. Working in over seven languages, I have tended to focus on European and American authors, though recently my research has become more global. My academic writing often returns to modernism, its genealogies, and its afterlives. In public-facing essays, I comment on contemporary American and Eastern European literature, film, and politics.

My first two books, Flat Protagonists (2016) and Spaces of Feeling (2017) reflect on trans-personal and trans-cultural communication within the purview of literary studies. My current book in progress, It Must Be Possible: Global Modernisms and the Problem of Trans-Cultural Knowledge, offers an intellectual history of the entanglements of anthropology and comparative literature at the beginning of the twentieth century from the perspectives of ethnically, racially, or (geo)politically marginalized modernist writers. 

Alongside It Must Be Possible, I am developing two other projects. One of them, tentatively called Myth and Meme: Notes Toward a Genre History of the Present, aims to refocus our understanding of contemporary digital culture around its experiments with older aesthetic genres such as Roman pantomime, figural sculpture, myth, the fairy tale, and the occasional poem. My other ongoing project is The Maria Janion Reader: a book-length translation that introduces the Anglophone public to the work of the recently deceased Polish critical theorist Maria Janion. 

Selected Publications

- “Joyce-Pidgin-Man,” English Literary History, forthcoming.

- “Maria Janion’s Uncanny Slavdom,” PMLA 137.1 (2023), forthcoming, translated from Polish. 

- “Short Form Proust,” L’Esprit Créateur 62.3 (2022): 25-39.

- “Imagining Ukraine,” Boston Review, March 23, 2022, online. 

- “Widzieć nie znaczy wiedzieć,” [“Seeing is not knowing,”] interviewed by Jacek Żakowski, Polityka 34 (3326): 22-25.

- “It Me,” The Yale Review 109.1 (2021): 109-120. Republished in Polish as “It Me: Problem z memami,” Almanach Concilium Civitas 2021-2022, ed. Jacek Żakowski (Warsaw: Collegium Civitas), 47-60.

- “Democracy on Pause in Pandemic Poland,” Foreign Affairs, May 13, 2020 online. 


Undergraduate: James Joyce and Marcel Proust, Introduction to Narrative, How to Compare, Internet Cultures, Feminist and Queer Theory, Six Pretty Good Selves, Tragedy, World Cinema

Graduate: Keywords of Recent Critical Theory, Literary Theory, Publication Workshop, Dissertation Writing Workshop

Working Languages

English, Polish, French, German, Yiddish, Portuguese, Yorùbá, Latin, Classical Chinese, and others