Dr Monique Rooney

Senior Lecturer In English Literature
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; attention economy; 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 recreates 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 three research projects. The first is a book, with the provisional title ‘The Program of the Brows,’ that explores the extension of educational and other programmed literature and media into online environments, including investigating the role of the brow (a class-based or socialised perspective) and intermedia or mixed aesthetic forms pervading our contemporary mediasphere and conditioning how narrative form circulates. I am interested in the ‘brow’ as both a category and a perspective that emerges ‘in the middle’ of the global apparatus that are social media and other platforms that encourage and facilitate connectivity, compelling a will to mediation. The second project extends my research on Rousseau’s Pygmalion aesthetics to investigate ‘elemental melodrama’. The third project is a study of what I am calling the ‘multiform writing’ 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). 


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Updated:  04 October 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers