Dr Rhian Atkin

Dr Rhian Atkin

Senior Lecturer in Portuguese

School of Modern Languages

+44 (0)29 2087 4585
0.07, 66a Park Place, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3AS

I am the programme director for Portuguese and Lusophone Studies at Cardiff University, and a specialist in modern Portuguese culture (including literature). I co-lead (with Charlotte Hammond) the School of Modern Languages Research Theme, Borders and Bodies.

My research and teaching are broadly interdisciplinary and my principal concerns are with human experience, migration and mobility, cultural history, the body, gender, power and identity politics.

My current research project, Pão e Vinho sobre a Mesa: Portuguese Food Cultures, Migration and Mobility, is funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and is conducted in partnership with the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. In this project, we explore the impact of migration on food cultures in the Portuguese community in New Bedford and Fall River, USA.

My previous research has focused on twentieth-century literature and cultural history, with a particular focus on masculinities, social change, and power relations. I have a particular interest in, and I have published on, the authors José Saramago, Fernando Pessoa, Jorge de Sena, and Luís de Sttau Monteiro. My work spans modernism, the Estado Novo dictatorship, and the contemporary period. I was co-investigator on the AHRC project “Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations” (2014-16).

I welcome contact from colleagues, prospective students and anyone with an interest in the Portuguese speaking world. I am particularly interested in supervising topics such as:

  • food studies
  • gender, feminisms, masculinities, intersectionality, body studies
  • modernism and futurism
  • literature (especially 20th century and 21st century)
  • visual cultures (especially modern art)
  • power, politics and contemporary history
  • translation and mobility studies
  • colonialism and post-colonialism

My office hours for 2017-18 are:

Autumn semester: Wednesday 11.10-12.00 / Thursday 12.10-13.00

Spring semester: Tuesday 14.10-15.00 / Wednesday 10.00-10.50

Students are welcome to drop in or phone me during these times without an appointment. A sign-up sheet is on my office door for those wishing to make appointment during these times.

I am a senior lecturer and researcher specialising in modern and contemporary Portuguese literature and culture, and I am programme director for Portuguese at Cardiff University. I also co-lead the school research theme “Borders and Bodies”.

Education and qualifications

  • 2010: PhD ('Masculinities and Social Change in the Literary Lisbons of Livro do Desassossego, Um Homem Não Chora, and História do Cerco de Lisboa). University of Leeds.
  • 2007: MA by Research (Distinction) - Portuguese Literature. University of Leeds.
  • 2004: BA Hons. Portuguese with French. University of Leeds.

Career overview

I began studying Portuguese as an absolute beginner when I enrolled at the University of Leeds as an undergraduate, having studied languages at GCSE and A-Level in Prestatyn and Rhyl High Schools, North Wales. Studying Portuguese opened up new worlds for me, because the language is spoken across the world, from Brazil to East Timor. Speaking Portuguese and understanding more about the many Portuguese-speaking cultures is a skill that will be useful for many different careers, and I welcome enquiries from those wishing to understand more about the Portuguese-speaking world. Before joining Cardiff University in September 2014, I was lecturer in Portuguese and Lusophone Studies at the Universities of Bristol and Manchester, and I have also taught Portuguese language and Lusophone literature and culture at the Universities of Leeds and Liverpool.

Honours and awards

  • 2016-17: €15,000 for one-year project 'Pão e Vinho sobre a Mesa: Portuguese Food Cultures, Mobility and Migration' (PI; working with Sonia Pacheco, Glória de Sá and the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives)
  • 2015: €23,380 for one year from Erasmus+ to establish international exchange links in Brazil and Macau
  • 2014-16: £190,000 AHRC Development Grant for ‘Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations’ (Rajendra Chitnis, PI; Rhian Atkin, Zoran Multinovic and Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen (CIs)
  • 2011: £1500 Modern Humanities Research Association subvention grant for the publication of Textual Wanderings: The Theory and Practice of Narrative Digression
  • 2011: Menção Honrosa in the Mário Soares Foundation Annual Prize for the best study of contemporary Portuguese History
  • 2007-2010: c. £45,000 AHRC PhD Studentship (fees and maintenance grant)
  • 2009: €6,600 Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Research Bursary

Academic positions

2012-14: Lecturer, University of Bristol
2010-11: Lecturer, University of Manchester

Speaking engagements

Speaking engagements:

  • May 2017: 'The Travelling Octopus', University of New Hampshire
  • March 2017: 'Foodways of Knowing: Culture and Identity in the Portuguese Diaspora', University of Southampton
  • February 2017: 'Collecting Food Narratives: Problems, Surprises, Questions', UCL
  • May 2016: Celebration of the Dia da Língua Portuguesa, Brazil Embassy, London
  • April 2016: ‘Gênero e Performatividade no Futurismo Português’, University of Macau
  • March 2016: ‘Futurism, Pum!’, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
  • July 2014: ‘We are all revolutionaries now: post-1974 politics in Portuguese literature’, University of Exeter, Centre for Translating Cultures ‘Iberian Transitions’ conference
  • May 2014: ‘Disquieting pleasures in João Botelho’s Filme do Desassossego’, University of Manchester, ‘Lisbon in Cinema’ conference

Committees and reviewing

2014-present: Borders and Bodies Research Theme Leader, School of Modern Languages

Current External Examining Roles:

2015-present: External Examiner, University of Essex





  • Atkin, R. 2013. Bernardo soares, pig of destiny!. In: de Castro, M. G. ed. Fernando Pessoa's Modernity without Frontiers: Influences, Dialogues, Responses.. Woodbridge: Tamesis, pp. 181-192.






I teach at literature, cultural studies and Portuguese language in the School of Modern Languages, from first year to postgraduate taught and research students. My approach to teaching focuses on the development of critical thinking and other transferable skills, and I seek to enable students to deepen their understanding of the variety of cultures in the Portuguese-speaking world while enhancing their language skills. I encourage students to consider their own cultural perspective when studying other cultures and to try to use their experiences and learning better to understand their own environment and think about broader social and political contexts, as well as those which are the object of study. I am passionate about my research and about literature, and I try to convey my enthusiasm for the Portuguese-speaking world in my teaching.

Students may study Portuguese language and the history and cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world at Cardiff University from absolute beginners or at advanced level (including heritage learners and native speakers).

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I am keen to hear from potential postgraduate and postdoctoral students wishing to work on Portuguese and Lusophone literature, culture and history. The following topics are of particular interest:

  • Food Studies, Food Cultures
  • Migration and Diaspora Studies
  • Twentieth-Century Portugal
  • Modernist and contemporary literature and visual cultures
  • Gender and sexuality studies (masculinities, feminism, queer studies)
  • Identity politics
  • The human body, and the relationship between mind and body
  • Dictatorship and resistance
  • Prose literature, poetry, journalism
  • Translation and dissemination

Much of our experience as human beings is defined by and manifested in culture. As a humanities scholar, I am concerned with the human body (including the mind) as the principal location of human experience, and I am particularly interested in questions of power, marginalisation and cultural politics. My research is broadly interdisciplinary, traversing academic fields such as literature and cultural studies, translation studies, gender studies, visual cultures, health studies, social studies and historical studies.

Current project: Pão e Vinho sobre a Mesa: Portuguese Food Cultures, Migration and Mobility (funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation).

This project seeks to amass a corpus of cultural products and ethnographic data and to approach an analysis of food and food practices within the Portuguese-American communities of New Bedford and Fall River in the state of Massachusetts, USA. The project is a pilot study in which we will trial and evaluate innovative methodologies for the collection of ethnographic data, and commence a holistic study of Portuguese-American culture in this area, with a view to eventually expanding the field of study to include other Portuguese-American communities in North America, the UK and elsewhere in Europe. The project will produce a number of oral histories which will be stored at the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives for use by future researchers.

In 2017-18 I will be giving talks about this project at the Representations of Home Conference (University of Lisbon), at the Universidade Europeia (Lisbon) and at SOAS (London).

Previous research projects include:

Co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project, ‘Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations’.

This project seeks understand better the relationship between ‘periphery’ and ‘centre’ in European literatures by studying the cultural dynamics of translation and the circulation and dissemination of literature in and beyond its country of origin. My contribution to this project focuses on recent Portuguese literature in translation and its domestic and international reception, and draws on and critiques existing theories and methodologies of marginal literatures, such as post-colonial and gender/queer studies.

My previous work has explored gender, the body and senses, power relations and urban experience in authors such as Jorge de Sena, José Saramago, José de Almada Negreiros, Fernando Pessoa and Luís de Sttau Monteiro.

Keywords: Portugal, food, migration, mobility, nation, culture, literature, modernisms, masculinities, body politics, gender.