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-making 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 of Taste-making in Contemporary American Literature and Art’ 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

David Fenderson (Chair), "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"

Zach Karpinellison (Chair), Australian Film Versions

Stephanie Gajewski (Chair), "Contemporary Middlebrow-Quality Television Adaptation"

Kathryn Hind (Advisor), "Ugly Feelings and Passive States in the Works of Gabriel Tallent and Anne Enright"

Amy Walters (Advisor), "Unstable Ground: Tracing a Gothic Lineage in Maggie O'Farrell's Fiction"


Past student projects

PhD Completions

Louisa Clare Brown Kirk (Chair), “A Matrix of Becoming: Women’s Friendship in Twentieth Century American Novels” (2023)

Kevin McMorrow (Chair), “Watching Television with David Foster Wallace” (2013)

Michael Bartlett (Advisor), “Cognition and Modernist Fiction” (2015)

Rebecca Clifford (Advisor), Critical Celebrations: Metatheatre in Australian Drama of the Late Twentieth and Early Twenty-First Century” (2015)

Kathryne Ford (Advisor), “I Lost Courage and Burned the Rest: Biofiction, Legacy and the Hero-Protagonist Split in Charles Dickens’s Life-Writing Novels” 

Andrew Maxwell Holmes (Advisor), “Anything You Want to Say You Can: A Reevaluation of Archibald McLeish’s Achievements in Verse Drama through Performance Research” (2013)

Christine McPaul (Advisor), “‘Corroboree’: Performativity and Discursive Constructions of Identity in Australia (2011)

Jackson Moore (Advisor), “Queer Sex in the Fiction of Patrick White” (2016) 

Hamish Dalley (Advisor), “Postcolonialism and the Historical Novel: Allegorical Realism and Contemporary Literature of the Past in Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand” (2013)


Honours completions

2009 Cara Foster (Class 1 Honours and University Medal)

2009 Jane Sisley (Class 1 Honours)

2009 Deirdre Louise Ryan (Class 2A Honours)

2010 Genevieve Kenneally (Class 2A Honours)

2010 Kelly Frame (Class 2A Honours)

2011 Claire Bills (Class 1 Honours)

2011 Emma Michelle (Class 2A Honours)

2012 Patricia May (Class 1 Honours and University Medal)

2012 Tarn Mcinneny-McRae (Class 1 Honours)

2012 Shalini Jayamanne (Class 2A Honours)

2013 Shivaun West (Class 1 Honours)

2014/2015 Aidan Delaney (Class 1 Honours)

2015 Jenna Connell (Class 1 Honours)

2015 Andrew McIntyre (Class 2A Honours)

2015 Camilla Patini (Class 1 Honours)

2016 Jillian Masters (Class 1 Honours)

2016 Tom Baily (Class 1 Honours)

2016 Haydon Hughes (MA by Research)

2017 Louisa Kirk (Class 1 Honours)

2017 Annika Morling (Class 1 Honours)

2017 Luoshu Zhang (Class 1 Honours)

2019 Lachlan Townshend (Class 2A Honours)

2020 Iona Hutchinson (Class 1 Honours)

2021 Arabella Hall (Class 1 Honours)

2022 Stephanie Gajewski (Class I Honours)




Projects and Grants

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

Return to top

Updated:  13 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers