Dr Marta-Laura Cenedese | Associated Researcher

Dynamics and Experiences of Globalisation
Centre Marc Bloch, Friedrichstraße 191, D-10117 Berlin
Email: marta.cenedese  ( at )  utu.fi Tel: +49(0) 30 / 20 93 70700

Home Institution : University of Turku | Position : Postdoctoral researcher | Disciplines : Literature |


Marta-Laura Cenedese is currently Experienced Researcher in the Kone Foundation project “INTERACT: Intersectional Reading, Social Justice, and Literary Activism” (University of Turku) and associate researcher at the Centre Marc Bloch Berlin. She studied at the University of Venice Ca’ Foscari and Sciences-Po Paris before completing a PhD in French and comparative literature at the University of Cambridge. Marta is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century postcolonial literatures, cultural memory studies, critical theory, critical medical humanities, death studies, and writing methodologies. She edited the special issue ‘Connective Histories of Death’ (Thanatos 9:2, 2020, with Samira Saramo) and the forthcoming volume Written on the Body: Narrative (Re)constructions of Violence(s) (Logos Verlag Berlin, 2022), and is the author of the monograph Irène Némirovsky’s Russian Influences: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekhov (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021). She is the co-convenor of the SELMA Medical Humanities Seminar Series and coordinator of the study circle Narrative and Violence (Nordic Summer University, 2020–2022). She is on the editorial board of Storyworlds. A Journal of Narrative Studies (University of Nebraska Press) and board member of SELMA Centre for the Study of Storytelling, Experientiality and Memory (University of Turku).

Imaginative Encounters: Irène Némirovsky and Charlotte Salomon in the Twenty-First Century

My project aims to contribute to the exploration of the ethical potential of memory and imagination within storytelling practices. In order to do so, I bring together writer Irène Némirovsky (1903–1942), artist Charlotte Salomon (1917–1943), and recent adaptations of their lives and works made for screen, theatre, and cultural institutions. The project is rooted in a mixed, interdisciplinary approach that draws on literary theory, narrative studies, adaptation studies, performance studies and cultural memory studies, and that also includes (auto)ethnographic methods. What are the ethical challenges of engaging with these works in the present moment? What effects (and affects) do the adaptations have on contemporary audiences? How could we rethink the connections between memory and imagination from the perspective of ‘imaginative encounters’? How do cultural practices perform and make sense of the past in the present? The project seeks to respond to these concerns by addressing these heterogenous works that: (a) access the past in a culturally situated (individual and collective) present; (b) create a ‘stratified cultural memory’ engaged in narrative processes of meaning-making; (c) allow encounters where memory and imagination interweave with the audience’s own social and historical experiences. By contributing to the exploration of the role that art and literature play in making sense of our past, engaging in the present, and shaping an ethical future, the project reflects on the cultural making of our societies and on their future challenges.

My current research project explores how narratives of illness, death and bereavement are located at the intersection of community networks and narrativized by communities. How do communities narrate experiences of illness and death? What does community mean in this context–who and what is involved, and how? What narrative forms, structures and practices emerge? How do these narratives engage with and depart from larger cultural scripts? What are the wider cultural and theoretical implications of approaching illness and death narratives as a community practice? Focusing on the notion of ‘communities of care’ (complex human and non-human networks based on relational, reciprocal and emancipative affective practices) this project seeks to understand not only how these communities are built and how illness, dying and death may be mis/understood through narrative, but also how narrative shapes and mobilises practical responses to experiences of pain, loss and grief. The research project contributes to a growing body of scholarship on illness narrative that seeks to account for greater complexity (of experience as well as of narrative form and context): (i) bringing death studies in to dialogue with critical medical humanities; (ii) focusing on the narrative products and practices of communities; (iii) developing a new analytical framework for collective narratives. It employs a mixed-method approach: (i) A hermeneutical-phenomenological study explores social and affective interactions, and the tension between experientiality and interpretation, in a selection of literary and visual narratives of illness and death (2014–2022); (ii) A qualitative study using reading/writing workshops (built on narrative medicine and participatory design methods) addresses the ways in which people have come collectively to articulate difficult experiences of illness and death. Three groups will be recruited across different communities in Turku, Durham and Paris to bring a comparative and cross-cultural dimension to the research