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CAH Public Lecture: The Ecology of British and American Empire Writing, 1704 – 1894

Off Campus

About the event

CAH Public Lecture: The Ecology of British and American Empire Writing, 1704 – 1894


Date & Time: Tuesday, April 23, from 6:00-7:00 PM

Venue: The Hecht Meeting Room, Neill Public Library

There will be pastries!


At this critical juncture in which the biodiversity of planet Earth appears to be shrinking fast and furiously, in his new book, The Ecology of British and American Empire Writing, 1704 – 1894 (Edinburgh UP, 2024), Louis Kirk McAuley invites us to consider the ways in which particular unruly natures, including animals, plants, and minerals, actively intervene in literature to decenter the human. Drawing upon invasion biology, McAuley offers transformative ecocritical interpretations of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British and American literature, highlighting the heterarchical nature of empire building. This includes analyses of texts composed by (or about) persons residing at, or just outside, the edges of the British and American Empires, including St. Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Cuba, Hawaii, and Samoa, which were built around the transfer of animals and plants. Offering biotic readings of this literature, The Ecology of British and American Empire Writing emphasizes the human place in nature and provides practical literary examples of the ways oceans facilitate the confusion of time and place.

For this public lecture, McAuley will present an eco-feminist reading of Leonora Sansay’s Gothic novel set during the Haitian Revolution, Secret History; Or, the Horrors of St. Domingo (1808). According to McAuley, Sansay’s work establishes a troubling connection between the brutality of capitalism and evolutionary biology vis-à-vis women’s struggle for survival in a misogynistic plantation economy designed to satisfy the desires of European men.

Speaker Bio

Kirk McAuley is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of English at WSU, and, in addition to various scholarly articles and chapters, he is the author of two books, including (most recently) The Ecology of British and American Empire Writing, 1704 – 1894 (Edinburgh University Press, 2024), the research for which was supported by a 2015 – 2016 Fulbright Scholarship at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, UK. He served as the Lawrence Ruff Chair in Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University of Dayton in Fall 2019.


Nazua Idris