Dr Jennifer McDonell

Deputy Head of School, and Senior Lecturer in English, School of Arts

Jennifer McDonell

Phone: +61 2 6773 2517

Email: jmcdonel@une.edu.au


Jennifer completed a BA (Hons Class I), MA (Hons Class I) and PhD at the University of Sydney. Her doctoral thesis examined the poetry of Robert Browning, and her master's thesis John Ashbery's poetry and New York School painting. Jennifer has broad teaching experience covering most of the major literary periods, and before coming to the University of New England held full time teaching positions at the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales (Canberra).


BA (Hons I), MA (Hons I) and PhD

Teaching Areas

  • Victorian Literature and Culture
  • Contemporary Critical Theory and Practice
  • Twentieth-Century Literature.

Jennifer is the recipient of national, state and institutional teaching awards:

  • Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning 2007 (Individual category)
  • NSW Minister for Education and Training and the Australian College of Educators Quality Teaching Award (Individual category) 2007.
  • University of New England Vice-Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (Individual category) 2007.

Research Interests

  • Life and work of Robert Browning
  • Perceptions of animals in Victorian Literature and culture
  • Animal studies, including indigeneity and species in Australia
  • History of English Studies as a Discipline in Universities
  • The relationship between visual arts and literature

Jennifer has published on the work of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, on animals and literature, and on topics in Australian literature. Most recently she has written on the material history of things in Browning's work; Browning studies in the early Australian academy; and on literary fame, Henry James and Browning.  Recent work in the area of ethics, animals and literary representation includes essays on Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her dog, Flush; women and pet-keeping in Victorian England; mourning and sentimentality in relation to pets; and literary human and animal studies and the academy.  Jennifer has edited (with Leigh Dale) a collection of scholarly essays on animals and literature (Australian Literary Studies, 23. 1. (June 2010) and a collection of papers on this History of Academic English (Modern Language Quarterly 75.2 (June 2014).
Jennifer is engaged in a major research project with Professor Leigh Dale on the emergence of critical, creative and pedagogical discourses advocating the study of vernacular literature in universities, in England and its colonies in the second half of the nineteenth century; a joint project with Professor Russell McDougall and Professor Helen Tiffin on species and indigeneity; and is writing a book on literary representations of pets in Victorian literature.

She is a member of the Nineteenth-Century Studies  and the Post-Human Literary and Cultural Studies Research groups at the University of New England, and an elected committee member of the Australian Animal Studies Group (AASG):  www.aasg.org.au


Articles and Book Chapters (Past five years:  2010 - )

2014. '"The Fascination of What's Difficult": Browning and MacCallum's Classroom'.  Modern Language Quarterly, Special Issue:  Lessons from the Past:  the History of Academic English.  75.2 (2014):  193-214  (7000 words).
Examines Mungo W. MacCallum's public lectures, and teaching of Browning at the University of Sydney from the 1890s-1920s; proposes a genealogy of  "difficulty".

2014.  Leigh Dale and Jennifer McDonell.  "Lessons From the Past?"  Modern Language Quarterly.  Special Issue:  Lessons from the Past:  the History of Academic English.  75.2 (2014): 119–27. (4500 words)
2013. 'Browning's Curiosities: The Ring and the Book and the "democracy of things''' in Literary Bric-à-Brac and the Victorians: From Commodities to Oddities. Eds. Jonathon Shears and Jenn Harrison. The Nineteenth Century Series. Aldershot: Ashgate Press 2013. Pp. 67-83.  ISBN: 978-1-4094-3990-5.
Examines the way Browning's narrativisation of collecting things raises important questions about the regimes of value that define the circulation of objects, texts and artworks across boundaries local and national.
2013.  '"This you'll call sentimental, perhaps":  animal death and the property of mourning.'  Victorian Vocabularies.  Ed.  Jessical Gildersleeve.  Macquarie University, Sydney:  Macquarie Lighthouse Publishing, 2013.  pp 111-32.
Problematises discourses of 'sentimentality'; strong affective responses at the loss of pets by Victorian writers was perceived by others to be a threat to 'legitimate' emotional, ethical, and political attachments.
2013.  'English Studies at the University of New England:  a Report from the Field'.  Australian Literary Studies.  The English Issue.  Eds. Leigh Dale and Tania Dalziel.  pp 149-162.
2013. 'Literary Studies, the Animal Turn, and the Academy', Social Alternatives.  32 (4) 2013.  pp 4-16.
Examines the field of literary human-animal studies; analyses some of the major theoretical challenges posed by a philosophically rigorous HAS to traditional notions of disciplinarity. Discusses race/species intersectionality by way of reference to the Bandit and Michael Vick cases in the US; and discourses of reason and animality in relation to J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace.
2012. 'A la lisière de l'humanité: les chiens, l'affect et la division des espèces dans l'Angleterre du XIXe siècle' in "Aux frontières de l'animal. Mises en scènes et réflexivités". Eds. Annik Dubied, Juliet Fall and David Gerber. Geneva and Paris: Librarie Droz. 2012.  pp. 119-141.  ISBN:10- 2-600-01527-2.
Examines through historically situated nineteenth-century case studies how human/canine interspecies affect foregrounds instabilities inherent in the way of culture hierarchically arranges its species significations and values.
2012. 'Critical Introduction' in Robert Browning: The Complete Poetical Works. 2 Vols. Newcastle Upon Tyne. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. v-xviii.  ISBN:  13:978-1-4438-1902-2; ISMN: 1-4438-1902-6.
2010. '"Ladies' Pets" and the Politics of Affect: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Jane Welsh Carlyle', Australian Literary Studies. 23.1 (June 2010). pp. 17-34.
Singled out by leading Elizabeth Barrett Browning scholar, Marjorie Stone, in Victorian Poetry 49.3 (2011) as 'the most sophisticated, extended, and original treatment of this subject to date'


2010. Co-Editor, Australian Literary Studies. Special Issue:  Animals and Literature. 23.1 (June 2010).

2014. Co-Editor. Modern Language Quarterly. Special Issue:  Lessons from the Past:  the History of Academic English.  75.2 (June 2014):  in press.


'Victorian Literature and Animals' in Blackwell Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature. Eds. Dino Franco Felluga, Pamela K. Gilbert, and Linda K. Hughes. Oxford:  Blackwell. (5000 words)

'Literary Fame, Henry James and the Problem of Robert Browning'. Special Issue on Literary Fame:  Then and Now.  Journal of Modern Literature. Guest Editor. Guy Davidson.

Refereed Conference Proceedings

2010.  McDonell, J., Parkes, M and Tynan, B. 'Virtual tutor support with Smarthinking and key barriers to its successful implementation'. Refereed full paper. 27th annual ASCALITE (Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Conference) in December 2010.

Selected Papers (Past 5 years:  2009-2013)

2013. 'Browning and the Global Circulation of Literary Value'. The Global and Local. Supernumerary conference of NAVSA (North American Victorian Studies Association), BAVS (British Association for Victorian Studies) and AVSA (Australasian Victorian Studies Association). June 3. 2013, Venice, Italy.
2012. Invited Paper. 'Mourning the Animal Dead: Sentimentality and the Care Tradition in Animal Ethics'. Danse Macabre: Emotional Responses to Death and Dying from Medieval to Contemporary Times. The ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Sydney. Australian Museum. 21 September, 2012.
2012. 'Inordinate Affection: Animal Death and Emotion in Nineteenth-Century Sentimental Culture', Animal Death, University of Sydney 13 June 2012.
2012. Invited Paper. 'Literary Fame, Henry James and the Problem of Robert Browning'. Literary Fame: Then and Now. University of Wollongong. 9 February 2012.
2012. 'Sentiment and Sympathy in Victorian Pet Narratives'. Victorian Vocabularies.  Australasian Victorian Studies Association, Griffith University, Brisbane, 11-14 April, 2012.
2011. 'Browning's Things'. Composition and Decomposition. British Association for Victorian Studies, University of Birmingham September 1-3 2011.
2011. 'Crying Over a Dead Dog: Animals and Emotion in Victorian Sentimental Culture'. Representing Animals in Britain, University of Rennes II, Rennes, France. October 20, 2011.
2010. 'Bulls-Eye: Dossier of a Dangerous Dog', Dickens Universe, University of California Santa Cruz, 3 August 2010
2009. '"Ladies Pets" and the Politics of Affect in Mid-Victorian England'. Minding Animals – the 2009 International Academic and Community Conference on Animals and Society, Civic Centre, Newcastle, 13-19 July, 2009.
2009. 'Natural and Unnatural Histories: Human and Non Human Animals in the Films of Mark Lewis'. Minding Animals - the 2009 International Academic and Community Conference on Animals and Society, Civic Centre, Newcastle, 13-19 July, 2009.