Katharina Piechocki

Katharina Piechocki

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature

Research Fields: Professor Piechocki’s main area of research and teaching is early modern European literature, with a particular focus 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—Piechocki’s research and teaching, interdisciplinary in nature, center on canonical texts alongside untranslated and/or less-studied authors.

At the center of Piechocki’s work, supported by numerous national and international grants and fellowships, is the importance of spatial and poetic figuration embedded in a nuanced and deep analysis of early modernity’s diverse linguistic, literary, and cultural manifestations, from ca. 1400 to ca. 1700. Her research explores the rise and transformation of new disciplines (cartography, philology, translation) and the emergence and translation of new interdisciplinary, predominantly performative, art forms (opera, ballet, revival of ancient theater) as they traveled across regions, nations, and continents. Together with Tom Conley, she is co-founder and co-chair of the Cartography Seminar at the Mahindra Humanities Center.

In July 2019, Piechocki was the inaugural fellow at the newly founded Europe-Center at the University of Konstanz, Germany, where she discussed the role of Europe within the world in an international panel: video.

An interview with the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) exploring her teaching was published in the biweekly e-letter Into Practice (September 2018).

Education: PhD. 2013, NYU; Dr. Phil. 2009, Vienna University

Current Book Projects:
Cartographic Humanism: The Making of Early Modern Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2019) 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.  A book launch took place at Harvard University in November 2019.

Piechocki is currently completing her next book, Hercules: Procreative Poetics and the Rise of the Opera Libretto, which investigates 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. 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.

Fellowships and Grants:
Professor Piechocki’s research has been supported by numerous international and national fellowships and grants. In 2015-16, she was a Distinguished Junior External Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center (Stanford Humanities Center Q&A, June 2016) and she spent Spring 2017 as a research fellow at the IFK (Internationales Forschungszentrum für Kulturwissenschaften) in Vienna. Piechocki 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 recently awarded faculty conference grant from Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs allowed her to explore the interdisciplinary question of “The Future of Geography.”

Selected Publications: “Gender, Medicine, and the Creation of Operatic Poetics,” The Italianist (Special Issue: Genre Bending in Italian Performative Culture), forthcoming 2020; “Cartographic Manipulations. Framing the Centre of Europe in ca. 1500,” in Contesting Europe: Comparative Perspectives on Early Modern Discourses of Europe (15th–18th Century) (eds.), Brill Publisher, forthcoming 2019; “Cartographic Translation: Reframing Leonardo Bruni’s De interpretatione recta (1424),” I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance 20:1, 2017, 1-25; “Sincerity, Sterility, Scandal: Eroticizing Diplomacy in Early Seventeenth-Century Opera Librettos at the French Embassy in Rome,” in Practices of Diplomacy in the Early Modern World c.1410-1800 (ed.), Routledge 2017, 114-129; “Syphilologies: Fracastoro’s Cure and the Creation of Immunopoetics,” Comparative Literature, 68:1, 2016, 1-17; “Erroneous Mappings: Ptolemy and the Visualization of Europe’s East,” in Early Modern Cultures of Translation (ed.), U. of Pennsylvania Press 2015, 76-96; “Ferdinando Saracinelli/Francesca Caccini: La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina,” in Italienisches Theater. Geschichte und Gattungen von 1480 bis 1890 (ed.), Theater der Zeit 2015, 173-190; “Kartographische Inszenierungen: Berge, Flüsse und das Wissen um die frühneuzeitlichen Ränder Osteuropas,” in Inszenierung und Gedächtnis (ed.), Transcript Verlag, 2014, 91-111; “Antro, Anacronismo, Allegoria: Alle soglie de La Sincerità trionfante overo l’erculeo ardire di Ottaviano Castelli (Roma, 1638),” Studi Secenteschi, 51, 2010, 231-256; “Hercule à la croisée des discours: De la ‘naissance’ des dynasties à l’‘invention’ de l’opéra,” in L’invention des genres lyriques français et leur redécouverte au XIXe siècle (ed.), Symétrie, 2010, 53-67; “Dall’Ercole amante all’Hercule amoureux. Verso una rivalutazione della ‘mauvaise traduction’ del libretto di Francesco Buti,” in Francesco Buti tra Roma e Parigi. Diplomazia, poesia, teatro (ed.), Torre d’Orfeo 2009, 837-860; “‘Teatri delle lotte presenti’: il corpo mancante e le tracce della dinastia medicea nell’oratorio fiorentino alla fine del Seicento,” Studi Secenteschi, 47, 2006, 207-244; Œuvres complètes de Gabriel Naudé, co-editor, with F. Gabriel et al. (Paris, 2010-).

Contact Information

Office: Dana-Palmer House, 204
p: 617-496-7187
Office Hours: By appointment