Dr Joanna Rzepa

Senior Lecturer
Department of Literature Film and Theatre Studies (LiFTS)
Dr Joanna Rzepa
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 872615

  • Location

    5NW.4.9, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    by appointment



Joanna Rzepa is Senior Lecturer in Literature in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies. Before joining Essex in 2019, she held the post of Thomas Brown Assistant Professor in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies, Trinity College Dublin. She also taught at the University of Warwick and University College London. Joanna completed her PhD in English and Comparative Literature at the University of Warwick. In 2015-2016 she was an early career fellow at the Warwick Institute of Advanced Study, and in 2016-2017 she held an Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellowship at the Trinity Long Room Hub, Arts & Humanities Research Institute. Her research and teaching interests include comparative literature and cultural theory, modernism and twentieth-century literature, book history and print culture, literature and religion, cultural and intellectual history, literature and politics, cultural memory, Holocaust writing and testimony, and literary translation. Her articles have appeared in 'Modernism/modernity', 'Comparative Critical Studies', 'Translation Studies', and other leading journals. Joanna's monograph, "Modernism and Theology: Rainer Maria Rilke, T. S. Eliot, Czesław Miłosz" (Palgrave Macmillan 2021) is the first book-length study to examine the interface between literary and theological modernisms. It provides a comprehensive account of literary responses to the modernist crisis in Christian theology from a transnational and interdenominational perspective. It offers a cultural history of the period, considering a wide range of literary and historical sources, including novels, drama, poetry, literary criticism, encyclicals, theological and philosophical treatises, periodical publications, and wartime propaganda. By contextualising literary modernism within the cultural, religious, and political landscape, the book reveals fundamental yet largely forgotten connections between literary and theological modernisms. Her second book project, "Translating Auschwitz: The Holocaust and the Politics of Representation", is situated at the juncture of comparative literature, cultural history, and translation studies. It provides a cultural-historical evaluation of the role of translation in the international circulation and reception of Holocaust writing, taking Polish Holocaust literature and its reception in the UK, US, and Ireland as a case study. In 2020, Joanna won the Martha Cheung Award for Best English Article in Translation Studies by an Early Career Scholar funded by the Baker Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies, Shanghai International Studies University, for her article on the translations of Jan Karski's 'Story of a Secret State' (published in 'Translation Studies', 11.3, 2018). Joanna would welcome PhD applications in the following areas: • modernism • comparative literature • twentieth-century print culture • Holocaust writing • literature and religion • literary translation


University of Essex

  • Senior Lecturer in Literature, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex (10/2021 - present)

  • Lecturer in Literature, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex (1/1/2019 - 30/9/2021)

Other academic

  • Thomas Brown Assistant Professor, School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies, Trinity College Dublin (2017 - 2018)

  • Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, Trinity Long Room Hub: Arts and Humanities Research Institute, Trinity College Dublin (2016 - 2017)

  • Early Career Fellow, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick (2015 - 2016)

Research and professional activities

Research interests


Key words: modernist literature and culture
Open to supervise

comparative literature

Key words: world literature
Open to supervise

literature and history

Key words: cultural and intellectual history
Open to supervise

Holocaust writing

Key words: Holocaust testimony, literature and trauma
Open to supervise

literature and religion

Key words: literature and theology
Open to supervise

literary translation

Key words: translation studies
Open to supervise

twentieth-century poetry

Key words: poetry and poetics
Open to supervise

WW1 and WW2 in literature

Key words: war and conflict in literature
Open to supervise

Conferences and presentations

Mary Ward (1851-1920): Theology as a Literary Problem

Invited presentation, Progressive Women and English Theology in the Early Twentieth Century, Ripon College Cuddesdon, 5/5/2023

T. S. Eliot, Theological Modernism, and the ‘Pure Poetry’ Debate

International T. S. Eliot Society 42nd Annual Meeting, 25/9/2021

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Independent Literature Project (LT831)

  • Dissertation (LT880)

  • Crossing the Boundaries: Literature and Translation in a Global Context (LT962)


Journal articles (12)

Rzepa, J., (2023). Mary Ward (1851–1920): Theology as a Literary Problem. Modern Believing. 64 (4), 360-366

Rzepa, J., (2023). Teologia, creatività e l’icona ortodossa: Rainer Maria Rilke e Lou Andreas-Salomè. Rivista Studium Ricerca. 119 (1), 169-193

Rzepa, J., (2021). Religion and Representation. The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory. 29 (1), 70-88

Rzepa, J., (2020). Religion and Representation. The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory. 28 (2020) (1), 190-210

Rzepa, J., (2019). The “demonic forces” at Auschwitz: T. S. Eliot reads Jerzy Andrzejewski’s "Roll Call". Modernism/modernity. 26 (2), 329-350

Rzepa, J., (2019). Publishing ‘paper bullets’: Politics, propaganda, and Polish-English translation in wartime London. Comparative Critical Studies. 16 (2-3), 217-235

Rzepa, J., (2018). Translation, conflict and the politics of memory: Jan Karski's Story of a Secret State. Translation Studies. 11 (3), 315-332

Rzepa, J., (2018). Reinventing Saint Francis: Józef Wittlin, Anti-Semitism and the Idea of Modern Sainthood. Konteksty Kultury. 15 (Special Issue), 41-60

Rzepa, J., (2016). Translation and Modernism: Mapping the Relationship. Exchanges: The Interdisciplinary Research Journal. 3 (2), 241-246

Rzepa, J., (2015). Review of "Modernism and Christianity" by Erik Tonning. Literature and Theology. 29 (3), 369-371

Rzepa, J., (2013). Review of: Peter Clarke and Charlotte Methuen (Eds.), "The Church and Literature" [Studies in Church History 48]. Boydell & Brewer, Woodbridge 2012, xxvi + 503 pp. ISBN 978-09-54-68099-2. £45.. Church History and Religious Culture. 93 (3), 411-413

Rzepa, J., (2012). Polish Literature in English Translation 1999-2009. Przekladaniec. A Journal of Translation Studies. 24, 263-290

Books (1)

Rzepa, J., (2021). Modernism and Theology: Rainer Maria Rilke, T. S. Eliot, Czesław Miłosz. Palgrave Macmillan. 3030615294. 9783030615291

Book chapters (4)

Rzepa, J., (2024). Translating Occupied Poland Into English, 1939–1955. In: European Literatures of Military Occupation: Shared Experience, Shifting Boundaries, and Aesthetic Affections. Editors: Buschmeier, M. and Glesener, JE., . Leuven University Press. 9789462704077

Rzepa, J., (2020). Badania nad literaturą i religią w Wielkiej Brytanii i Stanach Zjednoczonych. In: Literatura a religia wyzwania epoki świeckiej. Teorie i metody. Editors: Garbol, T. and Tischner, Ł., . Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego. 109- 145. 8323348472. 9788323348474

Rzepa, J., (2017). Translation as Resistance: Three Centuries of "Paradise Lost" in Polish. In: Milton in Translation: Theory and Practice. Editors: Duran, A., Issa, I. and Olson, J., . Oxford University Press. 349- 363. 9780198754824

Rzepa, J., (2016). Tradition and Individual Experience: T. S. Eliot’s Encounter with Modernist Theology. In: Religion, Philosophy, and Myth in T. S. Eliot’s Poetry. Editors: Freer, S. and Bell, M., . Cambridge Scholars. 99- 119. 1-4438-9456-7. 978-1-4438-9456-2

Other (1)

Rzepa, J., (2023).Czesław Miłosz: what the Polish poet tells us about the ‘westsplaining’ of eastern and central Europe. The Conversation

+44 (0) 1206 872615


5NW.4.9, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

by appointment