Name: Mx Alena Kiel
Proposed title: “Gothic Queerness and Abjection: A Comparative Study of Fin de Siècle Irish Gothic Novels and Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter Novels”
Supervisor: Dr Tina O’Toole
Career: Alena completed a BA in Liberal Studies at University of Southern Maine in 2015, where they received first class honours on a final project which used queer theory to interpret the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. In 2017, they received an MA in Gender, Culture and Society with first class honours from University of Limerick. Their PhD research is a continuation of the work they began in the MA, which used queer and literary theories to enable a queer reading of the Hannibal Lecter novels and their film adaptations. Their essay ““A very well-tailored person suit”: Hannibal Lecter as Genderqueer American Gothic Cannibal” has been published in a special issue of The Popular Culture Studies Journal (vol. 6, no. 2-3) entitled “On Monstrosity”. Their poetry also features in the 2015 edition of UL’s literary journal Ogham Stone and in several local and regional publications in Maine and New England.
In addition to working as a tutor both in English and Sociology, Alena has been developing several projects with Athena SWAN, the Hate and Hostility Research Group, and the office of Student Life to improve official and administrative understanding of and accommodations for transgender students and staff. They have received opportunities to deliver their popular “What’s the (T)ea? Trans 101” workshop in several universities around Ireland and remain strongly committed to fostering an inclusive queer community in UL and Limerick.