Associate Professor Chris Danta

Senior Lecturer
BA (ANU), BA (hons) (Melbourne), PhD. (Monash)
Centre for Modernism Studies in Australia, School of the Arts & Media


+61 2 9385 2282
+61 2 9385 6812
211, Level 2 Robert Webster
Kensington Campus
Fields: British and Irish Literature, Comparative Literature Studies
Tags: Languages and Literature

I did a BA at ANU, received honours in English at the University of Melbourne, before completing a PhD. in Comparative Literature at Monash University. From 2009-2011, I was an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow. I am currently a senior lecturer in English at UNSW.

My research operates at the intersection of literary theory, philosophy, science and theology. My first book Literature Suspends Death: Sacrifice and Storytelling in Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot theorizes the idea of literature in Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot based on the treatment by these writers of the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22. I have co-edited two collections of essays on the recent fiction of J. M. Coetzee and a special issue of the journal SubStance on the "Political Animal". I have published articles on Kierkegaard, Kafka, Blanchot, Coetzee, H.G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson and Jane Austen in international peer-reviewed journals such as Textual Practice, Literature & Theology, New Literary History, SubStance, Angelaki and Modernism/modernity.

I have recently completed a book that emerges from an ARC-funded Discovery project on the evolution of the animal fable after Darwin. Animal Fables after Darwin: Literature, Speciesism, and Metaphor will be published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press. The book demonstrates how the rise of the biological sciences in the second half of the nineteenth century provides literary writers such as Stevenson, H. G. Wells, T. F. Powys, David Garnett, Franz Kafka and J. M. Coetzee with new material for the fable, new ways to exploit the grotesque comparison of human and ape. After Darwin, it claims, certain writers turn to the beast fable to express a new kind of biological existentialism that problematizes traditional philosophical and theological conceptions of the human by thinking the human predominantly in relation to its biological milieu.


Teaching and Supervision

I mainly teach 19th and 20th century English literature. I have taught the following courses at UNSW: Introduction to Literary Genre; 19th Century Prose; The English Canon; Modernism and Modernity; Jane Austen in Context; Crime Fiction, Theatre and Film and Literary Animals, Monsters and Machines.

I supervise topics in the areas of literary animal studies,literary theory, continental philosophy, 19th and 20th century European literature and science fiction.

Completed projects:

George Damalas, "The Sonic Animal in Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells and Nineteenth-Century Fiction" (MRes-2015)

Amy Parish, "Strange Intimacies: Autre-biography, Failure and the Body in J. M. Coetzee and Paul Auster" (PhD-2017)

Current students:

Donald Johnston (joint with Paul Patton), "What Can a Body Do? Deleuze, Health and the Elaboration of a Postcolonial Symptomatological Methodology"(PhD)

George Damalas, "The Literary Animal in Sacred Space" (PhD)

Isabelle Wentworth, "Time and Empathy within the Context of Cognitive Literary Criticism"(PhD)

Emma Armstrong, "The Anthropocene and Science Fiction"(PhD)

Engagement and Professional contributions

I am currently president of the Australasian Association for Literature:

Related links