Dr Dominic O'Key

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.

In 2019, I was appointed 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.

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 examines how literature can transform human-animal relations. Titled Creaturely Forms in Contemporary Literature: Narrating the War Against Animals, the book explores the work of three celebrated authors (W. G. Sebald, J. M. Coetzee, Mahasweta Devi) who each turned to the figure of the animal in the late twentieth century. This monograph 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

Activities and Engagement: 


During my time at Leeds I have organised and hosted numerous events: 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.

Professional service:

I am on the Editorial Board of Humanimalia. Before this, I was an associate editor of parallax, the cultural studies and critical theory journal (2017–19). I am a manuscript reviewer for journals including Environmental Humanities, Animals & Society, Capitalism Nature Socialism and parallax.

Recent conferences and workshops:

Research interests


‘Why Look at Taxidermy Animals? Exhibiting, Curating and Mourning the Sixth Mass Extinction Event’, in International Journal of Heritage Studies (2020). DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2020.1844276.

‘Animal Collectives’, in Style, vol. 54, no. 1 (2020): DOI: 10.5325/style.54.1.0074.

Guest editor of 'Animal Borderlands', a special issue of parallax, vol. 25, no. 4 (2019). DOI: 10.1080/13534645.2020.1733205.

' "Entering Life": Literary De-extinction and the Archives of Life in Mahasweta Devi's Pterodactyl, Puran Sahay, and Pirtha', in LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory, vol 31. (2020), 75-93

'Herring Fisheries, Fish-Eating and Natural History in W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn', in Literature and Meat Since 1900, ed. by Seán McCorry and John Miller (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)

'W. G. Sebald's Zoopoetics: Writing After Nature', in Texts, Animals, Environments, ed. by Frederike Middelhoff, Sebastian Schönbeck, Roland Borgands, and Catrin Gersdorf (Rombach, 2019)

'Postscript, Posthuman: Werner Herzog's "Crocodile" at the End of the World', in Animal Biographies, ed. by André Krebber and Mieke Roscher (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp. 185-203. You can also listen to me discuss this paper on the Knowing Animals podcast here.

'Paul Celan and the Poetics of Anxiety', WRoCAH Journal, vol. 1 (2016)

'The First Need: Hunger in Jan Nemec's Diamonds of the Night', Studies in Eastern European Cinema, vol. 7 (2016), 102-113

Selected Public Writing and Academic Reviews

Speaking for the Trees’, an introduction to Facing Extinction (2020), a book produced in collaboration with Corridor8

‘Caring About Extinction’, a review of Juno Salazar Parreñas’ Decolonizing Extinction (2019), in Capitalism Nature Socialism (forthcoming 2020)

‘Doomstead Reading’, a review of Jenny Offill’s novel Weather (2020), Review 31, 2020

'Look to the Piglet: on Bong Joon-Ho's Okja'Berfrois, 2017, co-authored with Caitlin Stobie

'Writing Between Species: Yoko Tawada's Memoirs of a Polar Bear'3:AM Magazine, 2017

'Curiosity and Refusal: Werner Herzog's Late Documentaries'The Cinematologists, 2017 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Comparative Literature
  • MA Critical and Cultural Theory
  • BA (Hons) English Language and Literature (International)

Student education

Over the past five years I have delivered lectures, seminars, and one-to-one tuition across a range of undergraduate modules on poetry, prose and literary theory. I hold an Associate Fellowship from the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).

Research groups and institutes

  • Critical Life Research Group