Dr Monique Rooney

Senior Lecturer In English Literature
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • North American Literature 200506
  • Screen And Media Culture 200212
  • Literary Theory 200525
  • Australian Literature (Excl. Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Literature) 470502

Research interests

Melodrama; new media, film and television; taste and computer networking; US literature, Australian Literature, Ruth Park. 

Researcher's projects

My academic career began with a doctoral thesis on the act and theme of passing-for-white in US literature and film for which I engaged with the intersections of race, sex and gender in US cultural production. My research has since branched into a number of cognate areas concerned again with race, sex, gender and class but now in the context of the longue durée of melodrama as an aesthetic form persisting from the Enlightenment age to the present. My book Living Screens: Melodrama and Plasticity in Contemporary Film and Television (Rowman and Littlefield International 2015) is the culmination of research which draws on thinkers ranging from Jean Jacques Rousseau to Marshall McLuhan and Catherine Malabou to explore melodrama as a highly adaptable and durable mode that mutates as it crosses modalities and media. Rousseau's ur-melodrama, Pygmalion: scene lyrique, is a touchstone for my argument that melodrama is a plastic medium and mode, recreating itself through the melding of old with new technologies. This book includes chapters on the television series Mad Men (2007 - present), Todd Haynes's mini-series Mildred Pierce (2011) and Lars von Trier's Melancholia (2011).

I am currently working on two major research projects.

The first is a book titled ‘Brow Network: Programs and Promises’ that explores the language, culture and aesthetics of brow (as in highbrow, lowbrow, middlebrow) in relation to the programs and promises of our computer networked environment Drawing on Catherine Malabou's work on plasticity, this book argues that brow is a morphing intelligence that has continually adapted and metamorphosed since its first emergence in the late nineteenth century when the term derived from phrenological discourse through to its role in tastemaking and computer networking cultures.

The second is a biography of twentieth-century New Zealand-Australian writer Ruth Park whose oeuvre extends across all of the major print-forms of the twentieth-century (novel, short story, essay, biography, autobiography & non-fiction, children’s fiction, stage, radio, film and television script-writing, poetry, ballads and advertising jingles). In 2023, when I am Nancy Keesing fellow at the State Library of NSW, I am researching the Ruth Paper papers in preparation for writing her biography.  

Current student projects

Around the World, Adrift and In Place: Geographic, Virtual, and Affective Boundary-Crossings and the Search for Experience Across Modern Global Space in the Essay Films of Chris Marker, Jonas Mekas, and Trinh T. Minh-ha (David Fenderson)

Past student projects

One Another: Women's Friendship and the Matrix of Becoming in Twentieth-Century American Novels (Louisa Kirk, 2023)

'Watching Television with David Foster Wallace': A Novel and Dissertation (Kevin McMorrow, 2012)


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:  05 December 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers