Anna Poletti is Associate Professor of English Language and Culture.
Trained in literary studies and philosophy at La Trobe and The University of Newcastle (Australia), Anna's research focus is contemporary life writing, with particular interests in youth cultures, ephemera (both digital and analogue) and the role of mediation and materiality in autobiography. Drawing on feminist and queer theory traditions, Anna's published work examines how the materiality of media forms - from handmade postcards, to the selfie - inform the presentation of stories from lived experience. They have expertise in research methods that engage with ephemeral materials, queer and feminist theory, and comparative media studies, and have conducted archival work on zines, Andy Warhol's extensive autobiographical artwork, Time Capsules (1974-1987) discussed in Stories of the Self), and letters in the 1990s underground feminist movement riot grrrl at the Fales Library Riot Grrrl Collection (at New York University) (discussed in Life Writing and Youth Cultures).
Anna is currently collaborating with David Gauthier on the project Voice of Machine Theft which explores the current anxities about Artificial Intelligence and authenticity by creating a sound-based AI.
With Erin La Cour, Anna co-edited the Graphic Medicine, a publication which brings together comics artists and scholars of life writing, literature, and comics. The essays and autobiographical comics in this collection respond to the medical humanities’ call for different perceptions and representations of illness and disability than those found in conventional medical discourse. By treating illness and disability as an experience of fundamentally changed living, rather than a separate narrative episode organized by treatment, recovery, and a return to “normal life,” Graphic Medicine asks what it means to give and receive care. The collection was awarded an Honorable Mention "Best Special Issue" category of the 2022 Council of Editors of Learned Journals awards, and is nominated for an Eisner Award in the category of best Academic / Scholarly Publication.
Anna's book, Stories of the Self: Life Writing After the Book (New York University Press, 2020) argues that the very media used for writing our lives intrinsically shapes how we are seen to matter. It discusses contemporary art, cardboard boxes, selfies, documentary film, zines, and transmedial crowdsourced autobiographical projects such as Post Secret, The Moth, and Mortified.
Anna's first book, Intimate Ephemera: Reading Young Lives in Australian Zine Culture (2008), opened up a new area in the study of life writing through an analysis of the importance of autobiography in a dynamic culture of self-publishing in Australia. During this research, Anna assembled an archive of over 2500 zines. This collection is now held at the State Library Victoria (Australia).
Anna is co-author of the first study of life narrative in youth cultures, Life Narratives and Youth Culture: Representation, Agency and Participation (with Kate Douglas, 2016), and co-editor of the essay collection Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online (with Julie Rak, 2014).
Anna is a coeditor of the book series New Directions in Life Narrative for Bloomsbury Academic.
A member of the core teaching team for the BA English Language and Culture, and the Research Master in Comparative Literary Studies at UU, Anna teaches undergraduate courses in American Literature and Life Writing, and graduate courses in research design, and core theories in comparative literary studies. They are interested in pedagogical innovation, and through their work on the Reading Resilience project they have published articles and a toolkit of teaching resources addressing teaching critical reading in higher education.