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Dr. Stella Castelli is the coordinator of the English Department's Doctoral Program in English and American Literary Studies. She holds a BA in English Literature and Linguistics and Theory and History of Photography as well as an MA in English Literature and Linguistics from the University of Zurich.
In 2020, she successfully completed her doctoral dissertation titled "Death is Served: American Recipes for Murder - A Serial Compulsion" exploring repressions of death and their symptomatic reappearance in contemporary American culture. She is currently working on her habilitation project, "Economies of Secrecy."
Economies of Secrecy: Performing, Gendering and Writing the Crypt in the American Novel
Building on both the diegetic politicizing of the secret as well as the narratologically orchestrated deployment of information, this habilitation project seeks to analyze modes of the secret in the American novel of the late 19th and early to mid 20th century. This project intends to illustrate the way in which the conceptualization of secrecy and its exchange becomes akin to a form of currency, in particular for women; which is to say the way in which the secret is used becomes a means to challenge the patriarchal norm. Leaning on this trajectory, the secret will be theorized as crypt, which becomes a useful metaphor for its performativity not only on a diegetic but also on a narratological level. Physically manifesting as crypt, the secret becomes full of symbolic value; a tangible nexus of power hierarchies. Diegetically, it has the potential to deconstruct the societal norm while narratologically ensuring the survival of the text.
Death is Served: American Recipes for Murder - A Serial Compulsion
This dissertation offers an innovative take on American culture’s obsession with death, as this becomes a prevalent theme for genre cinema and television drama in the postmodern period, proposing that American culture fetishizes death as part of a repetition compulsion which stems from language’s inability to satisfactorily grasp death, a phenomenon I identify as the death paradox. As a result of this fetishization, representations of death are prominently repeated and serialized in American literature and media. Taking an intermedial approach, an investigation of the forms and tropes born from this preoccupation with death ensues in the following proposition: that the American cultural imaginary is hungry for death and conceptualizes its imagination alongside an appetite which manifests as repetitive encoding. These metaphors of food and consumption do not only provide a hermeneutic framing for analyzing representations of death in American culture; they are in and of themselves aesthetic and narrative consequences which the death paradox brings to bear on cultural imagination. In an American context, the serialized text becomes a rhetoric of death, its structuring force and recipe of the death narrative, able to absorb and ritualize the plethora of these incessant figurations.
The Text(s) of Literature. English Literature: Textual Analysis. September 20, 2022. ES UZH.
Rhetoric and Figurative Language. English Literature: Textual Analysis. October 15, 2019. ES UZH.
Methodenseminar: Einführung in die kulturwissenschaftlichen Methoden - Film. April 26, 2022. University of Lucerne.
Methodenseminar: Einführung in die kulturwissenschaftlichen Methoden - Film. May 4, 2021. University of Lucerne.
Methodenseminar: Einführung in die kulturwissenschaftlichen Methoden - Film. March 31, 2020. University of Lucerne.
Methodenseminar: Einführung in die kulturwissenschaftlichen Methoden - Film. March 22, 2018. University of Lucerne.
“Her voice was like her coat, rich and supple, and somehow full of secrets.” Carol as Patricia Highsmith’s Forbidden Story to Tell. Paper presented at SANAS Conference 2022. University of Fribourg, November 2022.
"The Labors of Language Culture and History." SANAS Conference 2021. Conference participation. University of St.Gallen (online). 5-6 November 2021.
Women, Money, Markets. Chairing of Panel. Conference UZH (online), 9-11 June 2021.
Migration and Contacts. Chairing of Panel. Conference UZH (online), 14-15 May 2021.
"The Family that Slays Together, Stays Together: Santa Clarita Diet and the Carnivalesque Reinterpretation of the Traditional Zombie" Paper presented at PAMLA Conference 2019. San Diego, 14-17 November 2019.
"I am Dead, Yet I Live: Twin Peaks as a Tale Enabled by Absent Female Bodies" Paper presented at PAMLA Conference 2018. Western Washington University, 09-11 November 2018.
"Vengeance is Served: Tarantino's Kill Bill saga as a Reconfiguration of the Traditional Cooking Show". Paper presented at SANAS Conference 2018: The Genres of Genre. University of Lausanne, Switzerland, 02-03 November 2018.
"The Serial Tragedy - Twin Peaks and the Disrupted Community" Paper presented at the SANAS Conference 2016: American Communities: Between the Popular & Political. University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland, 04-05 November 2016.
"Zur Ausdifferenzierung der Albernheit: Von verstörenden Albernheiten - Momente der Ambivalenz". Inderdisziplinäre Tagung Albernheit, Zürich, 17 - 18 June 2016.
The Hours - Einführung zum Film. Pink Apple Festival. 16.11.2022
Faces of Death - Einführung zum Film. Royal Scandal Cinema. 14.10.2021.
“Freddy vs. Jason”. Podcast Interview Mind Over Splatter: Notes on Summer Camp. August 13, 2021.
I Spit On Your Grave - Einführung zum Film. Royal Scandal Cinema. 20.02.2020.
"Of Other Spaces: The Place(s) of Literature". ES Allumni Colloquia. UZH, 27.08.2019.
EVIL DEAD II - Einführung zum Film. Filmstelle, 30.04.2018.
Macbeth - Einführung. Theater Winterthur, 12.12.2018.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Einführung zum Film. Filmstelle, 30.10.2018.
Truth in Venice - Workshop, presentation of PhD Project. Warwick in Venice, 05-08 September, 2018.
Questions of the Archive - BAA Summer School, presentation of PhD Project. Miami, University of Florida, 02-10 June, 2018.
The Materialities of American Culture - CUSO Workshop, presentation of PhD Project. University of Berne, 15-16 September, 2017.
Death is Served: The Serialization of Death and Its Conceptualization Through Food Metaphors in US Literature and Media. Transcript, 2023. Link
"Who in the World Am I? Das Enigma des Selbst als therapeutic narrative in Westworld". In: One More Loop Around the Bend: Kulturanalytische Betrachtungen zu Westworld. Diaphanes, 2023.
“Horror Chicks and Humorous Flicks: The Subversion of the Traditional Horror Film in the Horror-Comedy Psycho Beach Party”. In: Critical Approaches to the Horror Comedy Film, forthcoming.
“Brains à la Mode: iZombie and the Reinterpretation of the Traditional Zombie as Subject”. In: I’m Already Dead: Essays on the CW’s iZombie and Vertigo’s iZombie. McFarland, forthcoming.
“The Reality of Text is Manifold – Performances of Writerliness in Supernatural’s “The Real Ghostbusters”. In: Breaking out of the Box: Critical Essays on the Cult TV Show Supernatural. McFarland, 2020.
“In the Future I Will Love Her, the Wife of Stepford”. CINEMA #63 – das Filmjahrbuch. Schüren, 2018.
"The Hitch-Hiker". In Ida Lupino. Bertz und Fischer Verlag, 2018.
"It's All Fun and Games Until the Laughter Ceases - The Fine Line Between Horror and Humor". In VARIATIONS - Humor/humour/humour, Verlag Peter Lang AG, 2017.
June 28-29, 2019. Workshop: Visual Essays & Digital Storytelling with Björn Melhus and Prof. Dr. Richard Dienst. ES UZH.
March 28, 2019. Workshop: Democracy in America with Prof Dr. Heike Paul. Presentation of PhD Project. ES UZH.
October 12-13, 2018. Workshop: Cultural Memory, (P)Remediation and the 'Afterlives' of Literature. With Prof. Dr. Astrid Erll. Presentation of PhD Project. ES UZH.
May 11, 2018. Workshop: Persona Studies with Prof. Dr. Mandy Merck and Prof. Dr. David P Marshall. Presentation of PhD Project. ES UZH.
November 24-25, 2017. Workshop: American Domesticity. With Prof. Dr. Heike Paul, Prof. Dr. Katja Kanzler and Dr. Katharina Gerund. Presentation of PhD Project. ES UZH.
November 3-4, 2017. Workshop: Visual Essays. With Prof. Dr. Richard Dienst. ES UZH.
March 10-11, 2017. Workshop: Literature and Violence. With Dr. Pavan Malreddy. Presentation of PhD Project. ES UZH.