Dr Dominic O'Key
My research spans literary studies, critical theory and the environmental humanities. I study the relationship between postcolonial thought and human-animal relations. I am currently at work on my first book, in which I write about how writers write about animals. Titled Creaturely Forms in Contemporary Literature: Narrating the War Against Animals, the book explores the work of three celebrated global authors (W. G. Sebald, J. M. Coetzee, Mahasweta Devi) who each turned to the figure of the animal in the late twentieth century and, in so doing, pushed up against the very limits of fictional forms.
In 2019, I was appointed as Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the AHRC-funded project ‘Thinking Through Extinction’. Working with Stefan Skrimshire, I explore the cultural meanings of the Sixth Mass Extinction Event and investigate how museums are grappling with the natural and unnatural histories of biodiversity loss. You can read more about this project here.
Before this, I worked as a Study Abroad Adviser, a Postdoctoral Resarch Assistant on ‘Animist Engagements’, and a seminar tutor and lecturer on various modules in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures. My book project builds on my PhD in Comparative Literature, which was fully funded by a Doctoral College scholarship and awarded – without corrections – in spring 2019. I was supervised by Dr Helen Finch and Dr Sam Durrant.
I sit on the Editorial Board of Humanimalia, the human-animal studies journal. Before this, I was an Associate Editor of Parallax, the cultural studies and critical theory journal (2017–19). I am a manuscript reviewer for various journals including Environmental Humanities, Animals & Society, Capitalism Nature Socialism and Parallax.
Activities and Engagement
During my time at Leeds I have organised and hosted numerous events, including a reading group on animals and critical theory; a year-long study group on the work of Hannah Arendt; workshops and symposia on Extinction Studies, World Literature, Memory Studies, and W. G. Sebald; book talks with authors such as Henrietta Rose-Innes and Daniel Trilling; and a seminar series on animal studies. All of these were generously funded by internal and external grants.
Recent conferences, workshops and talks
- 2021: Science, Culture and Postcolonial Narratives, Oldenburg; Thinking Through Extinction in the Museum Context, Leeds; Appraising Critical Animal Studies, Edge Hill
- 2020: SPNHC & ICOMNATHIST, Edinburgh; Inhuman Memory: Race and Ecology Across Timescales, KCL; English: Shared Futures, Manchester
- 2019: Reading Zoos in the Age of the Anthropocene, Utrecht University; Maritime Animals, University of Kent and the National Maritime Museum, London; Animal Remains, University of Sheffield; Historical Materialism, SOAS
- 2018: Comparative Literature Summer School: Principles, Practices, Perspectives, University of Kent; Archives of Resistance: Cosmopolitanism, Memory and World Literature, University of Leeds; Digital Borders: The Politics of Film Distribution in and Beyond Europe, University of Leeds
- 2017: The second annual Memory Studies Assocation conference, University of Copenhagen; University of London's Coetzee and the Archive; 'Contemporary Literature and the Archive' at American Comparative Literature Association Annual Convention
- 2016: Texts, Animals, Environments: Zoopoetics and Environmental Poetics, Universität Würzburg; Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre's workshop Confronting Difficult Pasts; Stockholms Universitet's workshop The Creaturely, The Human, The Global; Questions of Scale in Contemporary Literature, Universiteit Gent; Animal Biographies, Universität Kassel
- PhD Comparative Literature
- MA Critical and Cultural Theory
- BA (Hons) English Language and Literature (International)
Over the past five years I have delivered lectures, seminars, and one-to-one tuition across a range of undergraduate modules on poetry, prose, literary theory, cultural studies and the philosophy of science. I hold an Associate Fellowship from the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).
Research groups and institutes
- Critical Life Research Group