Onderzoeksgroep Literary Studies
Specialisatie Empirical and Computational Literary Studies


Olivia Fialho holds a BA in Letters (Portuguese-English) and an MA in Applied Linguistics, both from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Alberta (2012). From 2008 to 2011, she served as Instructor in Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta. From 2013 to 2014, she was Assistant Professor at the Core Department at the University College Roosevelt (UCR).

In 2014, she was awarded the position of Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at Utrecht University, funded by NWO, where she worked until 2018, when she became Assistant Professor at the Honours Leadership Programme at Utrecht University. In 2019, she was awarded a highly competitive position as Postdoctoral Researcher, funded by Literature, Cognition and Emotions (LCE) at the University of Oslo.

In 2021, she returned to the Netherlands as Postdoctoral Researcher at the Impact and Fiction Project at the Huygens Institute and as Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Utrecht University. In 2022, she became Senior Researcher at the Huygens Institute and Assistant Professor in Comparative Literature at Utrecht University.

She specializes in empirical, computational, cognitive, and comparative literary studies. Her research focuses on the impact of fiction reading on personal and social transformation. She is the author and creator of Transformative Reading, a theoretical-empirical model (2017) and an evidence-based educational program that impacts readers’ cognitive and emotional capacities, such as reflection on self and others, empathy, compassion, moral understanding, and motivation to read literature, among other benefits.

Transformative Reading originates in her PhD dissertation Self-Modifying Reading: A Model for Reader Response (2012) and has helped acquire over 3.5 million euros in research funds, including, most recently, the project “Uses of Narrative Fiction in Social Contexts: Changes in Self and Social Perceptions”, funded by NWO (2014-2018); the ERC Advanced Grant “MORE: Moral residue –  epistemological ramifications, ethical implications, and didactic opportunities” (2022-2027). Transformative Reading innovates as a program of literature teaching in Education, Business and Medical Ethics.

She coordinates the IGEL coalition group Openness, Intensive Reflection, and Self-Altering Literary Reading.