Dr Diana Leca, Faculty of English




Biographical Information

I am a Marie Curie Global Fellow in the Faculty of English. Born in Romania, I was educated in Canada and Germany. I completed my PhD at St John's College, Cambridge before moving on to Oxford, where I was the Robin Geffen Career Development Fellow at Keble College. In 2022, I returned to Cambridge to take up a Marie Curie Fellowship. The post includes regular visits to the University of California, Los Angeles for research.

Photo credit: Boriana Boneva

Research Interests

I work on twentieth-century fiction and poetry, with a special focus on minimalist literature and short verse forms. My broader research interests include American literature, aesthetics, the environmental humanities, sound studies (including bioacoustics and various ways of listening), and translation theory and practice.

I am currently working on a book entitled American Short Verse and Micro-Ecologies, 1860 to the Present, which considers a peculiar literary species: the ultra-brief nature poem. Over the past century and a half, an extraordinary range of poets have turned to short forms—from one-line poems to haiku and the sonnet—to chronicle anxieties about their environments and the animal and bird life in them. My book examines poets like Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Lorine Niedecker, Robert Grenier, Aram Saroyan, Harryette Mullen, and Kay Ryan to ask why this might be so.

Because small nature poems are often disseminated through ephemeral means, such as correspondence, and because they are not normally anthologised or even collected, my project involves extensive archival research. This work has been supported by grants from the Harry Ransom Centre in Austin, TX and the Huntington Library in Pasadena.

In addition to environmental poetics, I have a long-standing interest in theory, particularly the late work of Roland Barthes, on whom I’ve published in the journals Paragraph and Barthes Studies. Other theorists who, in different ways, have influenced my thinking on minimalism include Gaston Bachelard, Theodor Adorno, and Vinciane Despret. 

Finally, I am very interested in theories of translation and its craft. I am currently working on translating a selection of fantastical stories by an avant-garde Romanian writer from the 1920s. 

Selected Publications

"On N.H. Pritchard's Eerie Unsounds" in Annulet: A Journal of Poetics, issue 6 (2023)

“Kay Ryan’s Miniature Sonnets” in The American Sonnet: An Anthology of Poems and Essays, eds. Dora Malech and Laura T. Smith (University of Iowa Press, 2022).

“Calm Weathers: Barthes with Beckett.” Paragraph 45.2 (July 2022).

"Failed to Feel It: Stoniness in Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove.” Henry James Review 40.3 (Fall 2019).

“Roland Barthes and Literary Minimalism.” Barthes Studies (2015).