Carli Cutchin

Research Areas


I am a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature, where my research focuses on Anglophone and German literature and film of the long twentieth century, trauma and memory, gender and sexuality, and affect theory. My dissertation, Allusive Remembering: Violence, Loss, and the Poetics of Allusion, explores the relationship between the textual dynamics of allusion and the problem of trauma in Anglophone and German literature of the long 20th century.

My project seeks both to historicize trauma and to uncover its emergence as an aesthetic problem from modernism forwards. Through readings of David Jones, Paul Celan, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Alison Bechdel, I argue that trauma writing seizes on the problematic loss of culturally “shared backgrounds” (David Jones), using alienating or difficult to recognize allusions to interpolate the reader as a subject of traumatic cultural loss. I draw on recent theories of attention to argue that readers, when faced with allusive obscurity or excess, must simultaneously work through the textual dissonance allusion creates and work out meaningful contexts for traumatic violence. Consequently, as my project demonstrates, in 20th-century literature allusion takes on ethical as well as aesthetic dimensions.

I came to Berkeley with degrees in English (BA, University of Nevada), theology (Masters of Theological Studies, Pacific School of Religion), and comparative literature (MA, New York University). I have also worked in journalism and in university donor relations. When not writing or teaching, I spend time cuddling with my five-year-old twins, hiking in the canyons near Berkeley, watching Netflix or Amazon Prime Video (TransparentThe AmericansJane the VirginStranger ThingsThe Good FightSharp ObjectsAtlanta! The list goes on, and on, and on) and eating avocados.