skip to content


Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Dr Victoria Baena

Dr Victoria Baena
Research Fellow
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 

Gonville & Caius College
Trinity Street
United Kingdom


Dr Victoria Baena is Research Fellow at Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge. Her work focuses on the history and theory of the novel in a comparative context, with a particular eye to the politics of aesthetics, critical geographies, and Marxist and feminist theories.

Victoria is currently at work on her first book, Provinces of the Mind: Time, Narrative, and the Modern Novel, which traces a comparative literary history of the province-capital divide across nineteenth-century narratives in English and French, especially in the context of overseas imperialism. The project makes a case for the “provincial”– from countryside to region to colony – as a conceptual tool for mapping migration and mobility across multiple scales. Along the way, it shows how representing this unstable provincial scale became a crucial problem for the modern novel.  

Victoria is also working on a book about the friendship in letters, and eventual rupture, between Gustave Flaubert and Amélie Bosquet, a socialist feminist novelist and activist in the waning years of France’s Second Empire. The project was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian First Biography prize, and has also been supported by the Jentel Arts Residency and Women Writing Women’s Lives Association (WWWL)

Before obtaining her PhD in comparative literature from Yale, Victoria completed a BA in History and Literature at Harvard, followed by a year as an international fellow at Paris’s École Normale Supérieure. As 2022 Diamonstein-Spielvogel fellow at the New York Public Library, she brought her research to a broader audience through public conversations and publications related to her work on literature and cartography. Her involvement in the public humanities extends to regular literary essays and reviews published in venues like The New York Review of Books, The Yale Review, The Baffler, and Dissent; her translation of Marie Ndiaye’s short story, “Step of a Feral Cat,” was recently published with Two Lines Press. She is also committed to adult education beyond university campuses, and has written on the politics of pedagogy for Boston Review.

Teaching interests: 
  • Literature and revolution
  • Translation in theory and practice
  • Travel narratives
  • Writing the self
  • Gender and mobility
Published works: 

Selected Publications

Peer-reviewed articles

‘Provincial,’  Victorian Literature and Culture 51.3 (2023) [special ‘Keywords Redux’ issue]


‘Cartographies of Region and Empire: Scaling Le tour de la France par deux enfants (and its Afterlives),’ Dix-Neuf (2023): 1-21


‘History’s Borrowed Languages: Emily Brontë, Karl Marx, and the Novel of 1848,’ ​ELH: English Literary History 90.1 (2023):107-35


‘Romanesque Commitments: Amélie Bosquet’s Narrative Theory and Popular Aesthetics,’ Nineteenth-Century French Studies (vol. 50, nos. 1–2), 2021

*winner of the Naomi Schor Memorial Award


‘Labor, Thought, and the Work of Authorship: Virginia Woolf and Hannah Arendt,’ ​Diacritics (vol. 48, no. 1), 2020


Other writing (selected):

‘In Search of Albertine,’ The Yale Review, January 2024


‘The World’s Wife’ (review of Clare Carlisle, The Marriage Question: George Eliot’s Double Life), LARB, August 2023


‘Jacqueline Rose’s Wild Analysis,’ Dissent, fall issue, 2023


‘A Great Variety of Selves’ (review of stage adaptation of Orlando at London’s Garrick Theatre), NYRB, January 2023


‘Altars of Novelty and Profit’ (review of Xavier Giannoli’s Lost Illusions), NYRB,  June 2022


‘A Fabric of Surfaces’ (review of Celia Paul’s Letters to Gwen John), The Baffler, April 2022


‘The Classroom in Crisis’ (review essay), Boston Review, September 2021


‘The Murder of a Witch,’ Dissent (review of Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season), fall issue, 2020


‘Institution Building: On Anna Kornbluh’s “The Order of Forms,”’ LARB, March 2020