Isavella Vouza is a PhD student in English literature at the University of Oxford and a freelance English tutor. She graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki as Class Valedictorian with a B.A. Honors in English Language and Literature. She also holds a Master’s degree in English from McGill University and a second Master’s in Comparative Literature (with Distinction) from the University of Oxford. Her research has mainly focused on the ways in which 20th- and 21st-century English and American literature reflects, undermines or helps make a paradigm shift to systems that codify behaviors and social identities in England and the U.S. Her doctoral dissertation employs the aesthetic of de-familiarization, namely the stylistic or thematic mode of making the familiar strange, to analyze the representation of social roles and the different ways of presenting one’s self in relation to gender and ethnic identity in mid-20th and 21st-century Anglophone prose. She also posits her literary investigation against the backdrop of larger sociological and cultural changes in post-1945 identity formation and gender/ethnic representation. She uses the technique of de-familiarization, in particular, to illustrate how English and American authors highlight these changes by way of disrupting entrenched ‘natural’ habits and, more broadly, challenging the habitual perception of lived experience.
Isavella also places great emphasis on teaching and pedagogy in relation to literature, namely teaching literature in an imaginative way and at the same time investigating the role of literature and other cultural forms in English language teaching. Her experience teaching GCSE and A Level English Language and Literature as well as English as a Foreign Language to international students worldwide has spurred her interest regarding ways in which literature can be used as a way of approaching matters of global concern such as gender equality, ethnic diversity, and tolerance. The Salzburg Global American Studies program will provide her the opportunity to pursue this interest in relation to democratic principles and the future of democracy. Thanks to the generous support of the Fulbright Foundation, she plans to illustrate, as a participant to the Salzburg Global American Studies program, the role of minority literature in shaping intercultural awareness and, accordingly, establishing democratic values.