Catherine Reilly

Catherine Reilly

Assistant Professor of Literature

External address: 
101A Friedl Building, 1316 Campus Drive, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Campus Box 90670, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 668-6204

Cate I. Reilly is a scholar of literature specializing in Central and Eastern European modernism and the interwoven history of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and medicine. She takes both an interdisciplinary and theoretically-focused approach to research and teaching. The scope of her work encompasses comparative modernisms, translation studies, the politics of language standardization, literature and science, Marxism, psychoanalysis, subject formation in the shadow of globalization, and the fraught legacies of deconstruction. Cate received a Ph.D and M.A. in Comparative Literature from Princeton, and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Yale.

In her first book project, tentatively titled, “Pieces of Mind: Making and Unmaking a Lexicon of the Psyche,” Cate offers a critical account of the role of modernist writing in the conflicts surrounding the creation of an internationally standardized grammar for the human psyche. This project revises traditional accounts of literature and madness by highlighting interconnections between the literary avant-garde and international classifications of psychic abnormality: from the late nineteenth century to the present Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Unlike thematic studies of madness, Cate’s work shows how contemporary lexicons of mental illness are the long-term product of an unexplored confluence between literature, psychiatry, and the encyclopedic Enlightenment endeavor to standardize knowledge about the human subject.

New research for a second project (“Remains of Red Letters”) focuses on the GDR’s development of a canon of World Literature beginning in the 1950s, in relation to Afro-Asian solidarity movements during the Cold War. 

Cate’s research has been supported by grants from the Josephine De Kármán Foundation, the Mellon Foundation/Social Science Research Council, and the German Academic Exchange (DAAD), among others. In her teaching, she seeks to draw students’ attention to the boundaries of disciplinarity, the problems of sociohistorical context, and the role of language as a site of cultural and historical difference amidst the growing pressures of an (illusory) global sameness.

Areas of language expertise: Russian, German, French, Italian, English.


  • Ph.D., Princeton University, 2017
  • M.A., Princeton University, 2013
  • B.A., Yale University, 2008

McCarthy, John A. The Early History of Embodied Cognition 1740-1920. Brill | Rodopi, 2016. Crossref, doi:10.1163/9789004309036. Full Text

Reilly, Cate I. “Diagnosis and Revelation in Vsevolod Garshin's "The Red Flower" and Anton Chekhov's "An Attack of Nerves".” Literature and Medicine, vol. 31, no. 2, Project Muse, 2013, pp. 277–302. Crossref, doi:10.1353/lm.2013.0011. Full Text