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Languages, Cultures and Visual Studies

Photo of Professor Katharine Murphy

Professor Katharine Murphy

Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature


01392 724430


Prof. Katharine Murphy specialises in early twentieth-century Spanish fiction, Modernism and Comparative Literature.

Katharine is currently researching representations of illness and the body in Spanish literary fiction. She has been awarded an AHRC RD&E Fellowship for 2023-2025 on 'Reading Bodies: Narrating Illness in Spanish and European Literatures and Cultures 1870s to 1960s' (AH/X01133X/1). She has recently published an article about this project with The Polyhony, hosted by the Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham University, and is an affiliate member of the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, University of Exeter.

Katharine's book Bodies of Disorder: Gender and Degeneration in Baroja and Blasco Ibáñez (2017) was published by Legenda's Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures. The book analyses the ways in which late nineteenth-century medical discourses and cultural myths of degeneration focused on reproduction and the female body, and aligns the literary representations of these ideas in the works of two Spanish authors. Her first book, Re-reading Pío Baroja and English Literature (Peter Lang, 2004), applied a comparative approach to early twentieth-century Spanish and English prose fiction in order to highlight the central participation of Baroja and other Spanish authors in the development of European Modernism.  

Katharine has been awarded Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. Her leadership experience includes Senior Academic Leader and member of the Department Leadership Team (2021-2023), Director of the MA in Global Literatures and Cultures (2021-2023), Senior Tutor (2018-2021), Internationalisation Officer for Modern Languages (2018), and Programme Director in Hispanic Studies (2013-2016; 2022). She was an External Examiner for the Department of HiPLA Studies at the University of Bristol (2018-2022).

Katharine was appointed by the University of Exeter in 2001. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2006 and Associate Professor in 2018. Her teaching focuses on twentieth-century Spanish literature and culture.

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Reading Illness

Katharine is currently researching the literary representation of bodies and minds in early 20th-century Spain, and holds an AHRC RD&E Fellowship on 'Reading Bodies: Narrating Illness in Spanish and European Literatures and Cultures (1870s to 1960s)', 2023 to 2025. She has recently published an article on 'Abulia and the Language of Pathology in Baroja's Early Fiction' with Hispanic Review (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023) and an article on 'The Contagious Effects of Rural Violence in Blasco Ibáñez's La barraca' for a Special Collection on 'The Pathological Body', Open Library of Humanities (2002). Her research for this project includes the connections between early-twentieth-century regenerationism and post-war Spanish fiction, with a particular interest in Camilo José Cela, Luis Martín-Santos and Carmen Martín Gaite.   

Gender and Degeneration

Katharine's book Bodies of Disorder: Gender and Degeneration in Baroja and Blasco Ibáñez  (Cambridge: Legenda, 2017) presents original readings of gender and degenerationism in the works of Pío Baroja and Vicente Blasco Ibáñez as case studies of canonical and popular fiction. The volume pays particular attention to the assimilation and modification in Spain of the theories of Bénédict Morel, Cesare Lombroso and Max Nordau, and counters existing critical assumptions about each author's adherence to the cultural myths of degeneration and literary Naturalism. The book was published by Legenda / MHRA, Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures.

Review: ‘Murphy highlights the substantial points of comparison between the two authors, despite the hostility between them and their very different journeys through the literary canon. Taken in its entirety, this book deftly sets about dismantling quite a number of critical distinctions and commonplaces... This will be a valuable book for anyone working on the Spanish novel, discourses of degeneration across Europe, cultural studies, and on the dynamics of female literacy and agency.' Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 96.9 (2019), 1553-55.

Spanish Modernism and Comparative Literature

This research aims to illuminate the ongoing critical reassessment of Spanish Modernist authors of the early-twentieth century within a pan-European and international context, through the comparison of Spanish and English authors as literary counterparts across borders. Extending her earlier work on Spanish Modernism, Katharine published an article (2020) on transnational paradigms and a comparative appoach to the novels of Baroja and Joseph Conrad.

Katharine's previous research takes a comparative approach to the early-twentieth-century Spanish novel, and seeks to reframe the participation of Spain in mainstream European culture during this period. Her first monograph Re-reading Pío Baroja and English Literature (2004) drew close comparisons between Baroja and the novels of his contemporaries in England and Ireland, such as Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, and others, in order to demonstrate the participation of Baroja, alongside other Spanish authors, in the incipient development of European Modernism. A major review stated that the book ‘merits the attention of all scholars of Modernism, and not just of the "Peninsular" variety: for its important contribution to the revision - and more importantly renovation - of our critical awareness regarding Pío Baroja'. Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 84. 3 (2007), 421-24. 

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Katharine welcomes enquires about postgraduate supervision in the following areas: Spanish and European Modernism; Comparative Literature (particularly the early-twentieth-century Spanish and English novel); Spain and the fin de siglo; gender and Spanish literature; Naturalism, medical discourses and pathology; visual culture and the early-twentieth-century novel; post-war Spanish fiction.            

Research students

Postgraduate Supervision:

  • Second supervisor for PhD on 'Intrahistoria, regeneración e identidad nacional ayer y hoy', Juan Manuel García Precedo, 2009-2013.
  • Co-supervision of PhD on ‘Social and Cultural Transformations in 1960s Madrid' (AHRC-funded), Alex Cattell, 2005-2008.

PhD Examiner for Natalia Font, 'Visual Elective Affinities in Marosa de Giorgio and Angela Carter' (Exeter, 2013) and José Carlos Tenreiro Prego, 'The Female Gothic in Emilia Pardo Bazán' (Exeter, 2014)

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Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

| 2024 | 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2017 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2004 | 2002 |


  • Murphy K. (2024) Reading Bodies in European Literatures and Cultures, The Polyphony:
  • Murphy K. (2024) Pío Baroja, Camino de perfección / Road to Perfection, Literary Journeys, Princeton University Press.





  • Murphy K. (2020) Rich and Poor in Nineteenth-Century Spain: A Critique of Liberal Society in the Later Novels of Benito Pérez Galdós. By Inma Ridao Carlini, Modern Language Review, volume 115.4.


  • Murphy KA. (2019) FRANCISCO FUSTER, Aire de familia: Historia íntima de los Baroja. Madrid: Cátedra. 2018. 181 pp., Bulletin of Spanish Studies, volume Volume 96 Issue 6. [PDF]



  • Murphy KA. (2012) The Female Subject in Pío Baroja: Sexual Ideology and the New Woman in El árbol de la ciencia and El mundo es ansí, Modern Language Review, volume 107, no. 4, pages 1121-1142.
  • Murphy KA. (2012) En la encrucijada de 1900: los límites del naturalismo en Entre naranjos de Blasco Ibáñez y La casa de Aizgorri de Pío Baroja, Revista de Estudios sobre Blasco Ibáñez, volume 1, pages 55-67.


  • Murphy KA. (2011) Pío Baroja, Literary Encyclopedia.
  • Murphy KA. (2011) Experiments in Genre: Baroja's Vidas sombrías and the Short Story in English, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, volume 88, no. 7-8, pages 121-141.


  • Murphy KA. (2010) Monstrosity and the Modernist Consciousness: Pío Baroja Versus Rosa Chacel, Anales de la literatura española contemporánea (ALEC), volume 35, no. 1, pages 141-175.
  • Murphy KA. (2010) Unspeakable Relations: Eroticism and the Seduction of Reason in Rosa Chacel’s Memorias de Leticia Valle, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, volume 16, no. 1, pages 51-72.
  • Murphy KA. (2010) Images of Pleasure: Goya, Ekphrasis and the Female Nude in Blasco Ibáñez’s La maja desnuda, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, volume 87, no. 7, pages 939-957, DOI:10.1080/14753820.2011.529291.


  • various. (2009) The Spanish Civil War, ed. Martin Hurcombe and Katharine Murphy, Journal of War and Culture Studies, 241-358, Intellect.
  • Murphy KA. (2009) John A. McCulloch, The Dilemma of Modernity: Ramón Gómez de la Serna and the Spanish Modernist Novel. New York: Peter Lang. 2007. 193 pp, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, volume 86, no. 5, pages 707-708.
  • Murphy K. (2009) The Spanish Civil War (Introduction), Journal of War and Culture Studies, volume 2, no. 3, pages 241-244.


  • Murphy KA. (2008) Identity, Image and Visual Apprehension: Baroja's Impressionism in César o nada, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, volume 14, no. 1, pages 25-38.
  • Murphy KA. (2008) C. Christopher Soufas, The Subject in Question: Early Contemporary Spanish Literature and Modernism. Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press. 2007. 281 pp, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, volume 85, no. 5, pages 653-654.


  • Murphy KA. (2007) Cuentos modernistas. Edición a cargo de Félix Navas López y Eduardo Soriano Palomo. Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 2004. 227 pp, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, volume 84, no. 1, pages 134-135.


  • Murphy KA. (2004) Re-reading Pío Baroja and English Literature, Peter Lang.


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External impact and engagement

More details about research for Katharine's AHRC Fellowship Reading Bodies: Narrating Illness can be found on the project website. She has recently published an article on Reading Bodies in European Literature and Cultures with The Polyhony, hosted by the Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham University. Engagement activities for this project include a creative writing workshop on Burnout, Overload and Resilience: for more information, please visit our Events and Resources pages. 

Katharine was invited to contribute an illustrated entry on Baroja's Camino de perfección [Road to Perfection] for Literary Journeys (Princeton University Press, 2024). She has also published short articles with the Literary Encyclopedia (2011) and Revista de Estudios sobre Blasco Ibáñez (2012), published in collaboration with the Casa-Museo Blasco Ibáñez and City Council of Valencia:

Contribution to discipline

Reviewer of articles and books for Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Bulletin of Hispanic StudiesJournal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, Modern Language Review, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos and Tamesis (Boydell and Brewer). Grant reviewer for Fund for Scientific Research-FNRS, Brussels. 

External Examiner for HiPLA (undergraduate programme), University of Bristol (2018-2022). 

Co-organiser for the Sixtieth Anniversary Conference of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland, hosted by the University of Exeter in 2015. The event was attended by the Spanish Ambassador, the Spanish Minister Counsellor for Cultural and Scientific Affairs, and 160 delegates.

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Katharine is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. From 2021-2023, she was Director of the MA in Global Literatures and Cultures, and convened the core modules SMLM235 Key Concepts for Global Literatures and Cultures and SMLM113 Dissertation.

She offers a range of undergraduate modules on twentieth-century Spanish literature and culture, with particular emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. These include a final-year module, MLS3112 Spanish Modernists: Narratives of Identity, Gender and Nation, and a second-year module, MLS2160 Fiction in Post-war Spain: Voices of Conformity and Subversion. Her teaching incudes Spanish language, translation and grammar at all levels. Katharine is also a Personal Tutor for undergraduate and postgraduate students each year.

She has been commended for teaching quality, good practice and strong student ratings for her modules. She has previously received nominations for Innovative Teaching in the Guild Teaching Awards.

Modules taught

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