Sophie Maddison

Research title: Urban Interconnections: Ecocritical Readings of the City in Works by Émile Zola and Matilde Serao

Research Summary

My research takes a comparative, interdisciplinary approach to urban narratives in French and Italian literature. With a current focus on the nineteenth century, I explore how ecocritical and posthumanist ideas can deepen our understanding not only of how authors engaged with the materiality of the city during this period, but also of how they grappled with humans’ less than stable position within it. My doctoral project concentrates on the works of Émile Zola (1840-1902) and Matilde Serao (1856-1927), and on the cities of Paris and Naples. But as part of this, with a view to further research, I am investigating ecocritical connections between nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century representations of these cities.


College of Arts Postgraduate Scholarship, University of Glasgow (2019-22)

Bellahouston Scholarship, University of Glasgow (2017-18)


Conference Organisation

Regeneration, 6th Annual Postgraduate Conference in Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, University of Glasgow, 14 May 2021 (online)

Conference Papers

'Crossing the Boundaries of Naples: Wandering Women and Female Subjectivity, From Matilde Serao to Elena Ferrante', Urban (Im)mobilities and Borderland Narratives, FRINGE / ALUS International Symposium, 14-15 October 2021 (online)

'Disembowelling the City: Naples, Paris and Nineteenth-Century Narratives of the Urban Stomach', Cities, Crisis and Change, Urban History Group Conference, 9-11 June 2021 (online)

‘Ontological Fluidity in Zola and Serao: New Materialist Approaches to the Fragmented Subjectivities of the Nineteenth Century’, Fluidity, University of Glasgow, 13 May 2020 (online)

‘Symphonic Interconnections : The Emotional Pull of the Material Environment in Le Ventre de Paris and Il paese di Cuccagna’, Dire et chanter les passions : les voix de l’émotion, Université d’Angers, 18-19 October 2019

‘From Physical Intermingling to Energetic Entanglement: The Body-Building Dynamic in Zola’s Paris’, The Body and the Built Environment in the Long Nineteenth Century, Durham University, 25 June 2019

Additional Information

In summer 2021 (May-July), I worked as a part-time Research Assistant on the 'D'Annunzio as World Literature: Multilingualism, Translation, Reception' project.

I am also Postgraduate Rep for the Histories and Subjectivities research cluster within the University of Glasgow's School of Modern Languages and Cultures.