Position title: Resident Fellow (2010-2011)
Zootopia: Nature and Politics in Late Victorian Fiction
This book-length project tracks the figure of the animal in a series of popular novels written in England during the last three decades of the nineteenth century. The study seeks to determine the status of the natural in post-Darwinian British culture and to describe the different symbolic uses to which emerging political movements as different as anarchism and social Darwinism put the figure of the animal so as to advance their ideological agendas. While this project is first and foremost a literary critical project, it is also situated within the emerging field on Animal Studies, an ongoing interdisciplinary endeavor to understand the relation between human and nonhuman animals.
Mario Ortiz-Robles is Associate Professor of English. His work to date has focused on the nineteenth-century realist novel, the first truly global literary phenomenon of our modernity, and has availed itself of a reading methodology that situates itself at the intersection of close textual analysis, deconstructive approaches to literary language, and ideology critique. His first book, The Novel as Event (University of Michigan Press, 2010), is an attempt to re-assess the historical claims made about the instrumental efficacy of the realist novel within the complex social processes of subject formation by looking at the role of performative speech acts in a series of canonical works by Dickens, Thackeray, Eliot, Brontë, and Collins. Together with Caroline Levine, he has edited Narrative Middles: Navigating the Victorian Novel (Ohio University Press, forthcoming), a volume of essays that focus on the formal and historical significance of the expansive middle of the long nineteenth-century novel. His work has appeared in Comparative Literature, ELH, and Textual Practice.