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Jennifer Ann McDonell

Associate professor, University of New England

The ‘NonHuman turn’ in the Humanities, which emerged in the final decades of the twentieth century, addresses some the most urgent and difficult conceptual issues in Humanities scholarship: the politics and material practices of species difference, the functions of animals in nature/cultures, and the fragile status of the ‘human’ in an era of accelerated environmental crisis. Supported by both textual analysis and archival work, my research in this area aims to identify and analyse intersections between species and discourses of gender, class, race, ethnicity in Victorian literature and culture. I am also interested in questions of relationship between things and the persons who value them, to intersubjective subject and object relations in specific temporal and spatial contexts, specifically in Robert Browning’s life and work. I have published schiolarly articles and book chapters on Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her dog, Flush; mourning, sentimentality and pets in Victorian England, Dickens and animals, and literary human and animal studies and the academy. I have also written on topics as varied as bric-à-brac and cabinets of curiosity, difficulty and celebrity in Robert Browning’s poetry, and on Browning studies and the history of university English studies in Australia. I am currently working on a project which examines the greatly amplified mid- and late-Victorian interest in Browning’s biography via access to objects which were intimately related to the poet’s private life and which were much sought-after by biography-hunters: memorabilia, souvenirs, tangible relics of all sorts. Currently this project is focussed on the assemblage and diassemblage of the Brownings' Florentine home, Casa Guidi upon Elizabeth Barrett Bronwing's death in 1861. It also considers the twentieth-century and twenty-first century afterlives of select objects.


  • –present
    Senior Lecturer, University of New England


  • 1995 
    University of Sydney, PhD