Barbara Tesio-Ryan

  • PhD Scandinavian Studies
  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

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School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

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I recently completed a PhD in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. My doctoral thesis, ‘Reassessing Karen Blixen’s Gengældelsens Veje/The Angelic Avengers: A Novel Challenging Gender, Totalitarianism and Colonial Practices’, was co-supervised by Bjarne Thomsen and Claire Boyle.

I hold an MSc in Comparative and General Literature from the University of Edinburgh, and a BA in Literature and Performing Arts from the Sapienza University of Rome.

My PhD thesis offers a multidimensional and comprehensive reassessment of the Danish author Karen Blixen’s less known works. I used her novel GV/AA as a starting point to explore the historical context of publication of the text (Denmark under Nazi occupation), its transmission and reception into the cultural context of post-war United Kingdom and United States, as well as Blixen’s use of gothic genre as a way to subvert the concept of gender, totalitarianism and colonial practices.  

Part of my PhD thesis is based on unedited archival materials from the Karen Blixen archive in the Copenhagen Royal Library, and the interest for archives and rare books has characterised my working career too. I completed my PhD while working part-time as a library assistant and library supervisor in various libraries of the university of Edinburgh, including Moray House Library, New College Library, the Centre for Research Collection, Royal Infirmary Library and Western General Library. I am a member of the CILIP the library and information association.



Undergraduate teaching

  • Scandinavian literature 2 (2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19)

Project activity

  • Co-organiser of LLC writes! and EdJoWriWe 2014-2015, focused writing sessions and workshops for PhD and Masters students funded by the University of Edinburgh Researcher-Led Initiative Fund
  • Organiser and co-ordinator of the Flytte poetry project, 2015-2016. Flytte was a poetry project based on the theme of identity and displacement which involved poets, artists and academics based in the UK and abroad. The project culminated in performances and community discussions across cultural venues in Edinburgh, including the Scottish Poetry Library


Papers delivered

  • Nordic Research Network 2013, University College London: Language and Identity in Karen Blixen.
  • LLC Work in Progress Seminars, University of Edinburgh, 2013: The encouraging power of writing. A reading of Karen Blixen’s novel “The Angelic Avengers” in the light of Walter Benjamin’s storytelling theory.
  • Association for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies in Canada (AASSC) Annual Conference 2015, University of Ottawa, Canada, June 2015: Isak Dinesen’s different voice: Pierre Andrézel and the problematization of the condition of women in The Angelic Avengers.
  • The International Association of Scandinavian Studies (IASS) Conference, University of Groningen, Netherlands, August 2016: Et dansk roman af internationalt snit?; Exploring the creation and reception of Karen Blixen’s The Angelic Avengers in Denmark, Great Britain and America.
  • Nordic Research Network 2016, University College London, November 2016: “Et kriminal roman i krinoline” or “An enchanting modern-Gothic tale”? – The reception of Gengældelsens Veje / The Angelic Avengers in Denmark, US and UK.
  • Nordic Research Showcase: Scandinavian Studies at the Universities of Edinburgh, Lund and Copenhagen, University of Edinburgh, April 2017
  •  Beyond Borealism: New Perspectives On The North. Eds. Ian Giles, Laura Chapot, Chris Cooijmans, Ryan Foster, Barbara Tesio. London: Norvik Press, 2016. Print.
  • Tesio, Barbara. “The art of entertaining a nation under Nazi occupation: Pierre Andrézel and Gengældelsens Veje” in Illuminating the North: Proceedings from the Nordic Research Network Conference 2013 eds. Agnes Broomè, Pei-Sze Chow, Nichola Smalley, Louisa Taylor, Essi Viitanen. Norvik Press, London 2014. Print.