Emma Kafalenos

​Honorary Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature
PHD, Washington University in St. Louis
research interests:
  • Narrative Theory, Comparative Arts
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contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
  • CB 1107
  • One Brookings Drive
  • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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Emma Kafalenos' recent courses in comparative literature include "Postmodern Fiction and Graphic Novels" and "Literature and Arts in 19th Century Europe."

Selected Publications

Narrative Causalities. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2006. Explores the effect of context on interpretations of consequences and causes, and argues that narratives, by determining the contexts in which events are perceived, shape readers' interpretations of causality, whether the narratives being read are nonfiction or fiction.

Ed. Narrative 9:2 (May 2001). Spec. issue on contemporary narratology.

"The Polysemy of Looking: Reading Ekphrasis alongside Images in Calvino's Castle of Crossed Destinies and Vargas Llosa's In Praise of the Stepmother." Poetics Today 33:1 (Spring 2012): 27-57.  Argues that ekphrasis placed next to the image that inspired it draws attention to the polysemy of the image and offers a site to explore cognitive responses to scenes in our world as well as to represented scenes.

"Reading Functionally Polyvalent Events." In Structuralism(s) Today: Paris, Prague, Tartu. Ed. Veronika Ambros, Roland Le Huenon, Adil D'Sousa, and Andrés Pérez-Simón. New York: Legas, 2009. 111-20. Considers the effect of reading translations without the rudimentary sociopolitical information of a native speaker by comparing a naive to a better informed interpretation of the early twentieth-century Chinese writer Lu Xun's "Ah Q - The Real Story."

With Roland Jordan. "La Duplice Traiettoria: Ambiguità in Brahms ed Henry James." In La narratologia musicale: Applicazioni e prospettive. [Musical Narratology: Applications and Perspectives]. Ed. and trans. Angela Carone. Torino: Trauben, 2006. 87-117. Trans. of "The Double Trajectory: Ambiguity in Brahms and Henry James." 19th-Century Music 13.2 (Fall 1989): 129-44. Demonstrates a similar structural instability, unusual even in the late 19th century, in two works from 1892 that hold open to the very end alternative possibilities: the B minor or D major tonality of Brahms's Intermezzo, op. 119, no. 1; the courage or cowardice motivating the protagonist of James's "Owen Wingrave."