Professor Chris Danta

BA (ANU), BA (hons) (Melbourne), PhD (Monash)
Professor
ANU College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics

Areas of expertise

  • Literary Studies 4705
  • British And Irish Literature 470504
  • Literary Theory 470514
  • Comparative And Transnational Literature 470507
  • Ecocriticism 470509

Research interests

AI and literature, animal studies, ecocriticism, cybernetics, storytelling, the fable, comparative literature, literary theory, continental philosophy

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2801-8117

Biography

I am a professor of English in the School of Cybernetics at ANU.

After doing a BA at ANU, I received honours in English at the University of Melbourne and completed my PhD in Comparative Literature at Monash University. I was an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow (2009-11) and am currently an ARC Future Fellow (2021-24). 

My research operates at the intersection of literary theory, philosophy, science and theology. I call myself a literary anthropologist and am interested in how literary writers rethink what it means to be human by drawing on other knowledge systems such as religion and science.

My first book Literature Suspends Death: Sacrifice and Storytelling in Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot (Bloomsbury, 2011) examines how Søren Kierkegaard, Franz Kafka and Maurice Blanchot critique the biblical story of the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22 by taking a literary approach to it. My second book Animal Fables after Darwin: Literature, Speciesism and Metaphor (Cambridge University Press, 2018) demonstrates how the rise of the biological sciences in the second half of the nineteenth century provided literary writers such as Robert Louis 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, the book claims, certain writers turn to the beast fable to problematise traditional philosophical and theological conceptions of the human and to rethink the human predominantly in relation to its biological milieu.

I am currently working on an ARC Future Fellowship with the title Future Fables: Literature, Evolution and Artificial Intelligence. This project aims to understand (1) how the post-Darwin literary imagination has shaped our current anxieties about AI and (2) how literary and scientific writers after Darwin rethink the future of the human species by imagining the co-evolution of humans, animals and machines. 

My articles have appeared in international peer-reviewed journals such as New Literary HistorySubStanceAngelakiTextual PracticeLiterature and Theology and Modernism/modernity.

Researcher's projects

ARC Future Fellowship (2021-24): Future Fables: Literature, Evolution and Artificial Intelligence 

Past student projects

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

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

Donald Johnston (joint with Paul Patton), PhD (UNSW): What Can a Body Do? Deleuze, Health and the Elaboration of a Postcolonial Symptomatological Methodology (2019)

Isabelle Wentworh, PhD (UNSW): Catching Time: the Synchrony of Minds, Bodies and Objects in Literature" (2019)

Robin Hemley (joint with Anne Brewster), PhD (UNSW): Real Toads in Imaginary Gardens: Fake, Faux, and Speculative Memoirs (2020)

Emma Armstrong, PhD (UNSW): Speculative Ecologies: Science Fiction and the Anthropocene Imagination (2021)

George Damalas, PhD (UNSW): Snake Charmers: Reading the Snake in Keats, Dickinson, Valéry and Lawrence (2023)

Publications

Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  23 February 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers