Dr Chris Danta

Senior Lecturer
BA (ANU), BA (hons) (Melbourne), PhD. (Monash)
School of the Arts & Media, Centre for Modernism Studies in Australia


+61 2 9385 2282
+61 2 9385 6812
Room 211, Level 2, Robert Webster
Kensington Campus
Fields: British and Irish Literature, Comparative Literature Studies
Tags: Languages and Literature

My research operates at the intersection of literary theory, philosophy, science and theology. As well as sole-authoring two books, I have co-edited two collections of essays on the fiction of Coetzee, special issues of the journal SubStance on the Political Animal and Derrida's Beast and the Sovereign lectures and a collection on cognitive literary studies. I have published articles on Kierkegaard, Kafka, Blanchot, Coetzee, Austen, Wells and Stevenson in international peer-reviewed journals such as New Literary HistoryTextual PracticeLiterature & TheologySubStanceAngelaki and Modernism/modernity.

My first book Literature Suspends Death: Sacrifice and Storytelling in Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot (Bloomsbury) theorizes the idea of literature in Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot based on the poetic treatment by these writers of the biblical story of the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22. I have recently completed a second book that emerges from an ARC-funded Discovery project on the evolution of the animal fable after Darwin. Animal Fables after Darwin: Literature, Speciesism, and Metaphor will be published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press. The book demonstrates how the rise of the biological sciences in the second half of the nineteenth century provides literary writers such as Stevenson, Wells, Kafka, Carter and Coetzee with new material for the fable, new ways to exploit the grotesque comparison of human and ape. After Darwin, it claims, certain writers turn to the beast fable to express a new kind of biological existentialism that problematizes traditional philosophical and theological conceptions of the human by thinking the human predominantly in relation to its biological milieu. 




Danta, Chris. Animal Fables after Darwin: Literature, Speciesism, and Metaphor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming in 2018).

Danta, Chris. Literature Suspends Death: Sacrifice and Storytelling in Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot. London: Bloomsbury, 2011.


Edited journals and books

Danta, Chris and Helen Groth, eds. Mindful Aesthetics: Literature and the Science of Mind. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.

Danta, Chris and Matthew Chrulew, eds. “Fabled Thought: Jacques Derrida’s The Beast & the Sovereign.” Special Issue of SubStance 43.2 (2014).

Danta, Chris and Julian Murphet, eds. “Late Coetzee.” Special Issue of Twentieth Century Literature 57.1 (2012).

Danta, Chris, Sue Kossew and Julian Murphet, eds. Strong Opinions: J. M. Coetzee and the Authority of Contemporary Fiction. London: Bloomsbury, 2011.

Danta, Chris and Dimitris Vardoulakis, eds. “The Political Animal.” Special Issue of SubStance 37.3 (2008).


Book chapters

Danta, Chris and Helen Groth. “Introduction: Between Minds.” Mindful Aesthetics: Literature and the Science of Mind. Ed. Chris Danta and Helen Groth. London: Bloomsbury, 2014: 1-14.

Danta, Chris. “Animal Bachelors and Animal Brides: Fabulous Metamorphosis in Kafka and Garnett.” Philosophy  and Kafka. Ed. Brendan Moran and Carlo Salzani. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2013: 123-40.  

Danta, Chris. “‘The cold illucid world’: The Poetics of Gray in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.” Styles of Extinction: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Ed. Julian Murphet and Mark Steven. New York: Bloomsbury, 2012: 9-26.

Danta, Chris. “Introduction: J. M. Coetzee: The Janus Face of Authority.” Strong Opinions: J. M. Coetzee and the Authority of Contemporary Fiction. Ed. Chris Danta, Sue Kossew and Julian Murphet. London: Bloomsbury, 2011: xi-xx.

Danta, Chris. “The Melancholy Ape: Coetzee’s Fables of Animal Finitude.” Strong Opinions: J. M. Coetzee and the Authority of Contemporary Fiction. Ed. Chris Danta, Sue Kossew and Julian Murphet. London: Bloomsbury, 2011: 125-40.

Danta, Chris. “Revolution at a Distance: Jane Austen and Personalised History.” The Novel, Revolution and Counter Revolution. Ed. Tony Cousins and Dani Napton. New York: Peter Lang, 2011: 137-52.

Danta, Chris. “‘The Absolutely Dark Moment of the Plot’: Blanchot’s Abraham.” After Blanchot: Literature, Criticism, Philosophy. Ed. Dimitris Vardoulakis, Leslie Hill and Brian Nelson. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2005: 205-21.


Refereed journal articles

Danta, Chris. “Eurydice’s Curse: J. M. Coetzee and the Prospect of Death.” Forthcoming in Australian Literary Studies.

Danta, Chris. “The Theology of Personification: Allegory and Nonhuman Agency in T. F. Powys.” Forthcoming in Modernism/modernity.

Danta, Chris. “Acrobats and Ascetics: Peter Sloterdijk and the Aesthetics of Verticality.” The European Journal of English Studies 19.1 (2015): 66-80.

Danta, Chris and Matthew Chrulew, “Fabled Thought: On Jacques Derrida’s The Beast & the Sovereign.” SubStance 43.2 (2014): 3-9. 

Danta, Chris. “‘Might sovereignty be devouring?’ Derrida and the Fable.” SubStance 43.2 (2014): 37-49.

Danta, Chris. “The New Solitude: Melancholy Anthropomorphism and the Molecular Gaze.” English Studies in Canada 39.1 (2013): 71-86.

Danta, Chris. “Derrida and the Test of Secrecy.” Angelaki 18.2 (2013): 61-75. Reprinted in Interpreting Abraham: Journeys to Moriah. Ed Bradley Beach and Matthew Powell. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014: 187-209.

Danta, Chris. “The Future Will Have Been Animal: Dr Moreau and the Aesthetics of Monstrosity.” Textual Practice 26.4 (2012): 687-705.

Danta, Chris. “The Metaphysical Cut: Darwin and Stevenson on Vivisection.” Victorian Review 36.2 (2010): 51-65.  

Danta, Chris. “Coetzee’s Animal Afterlives.” Southerly 69.1 (2009).

Danta, Chris. “Sarah’s Laughter: Kafka’s Abraham.” Modernism/modernity 15.2 (2008): 343-59.

Danta, Chris. “Kafka’s Mousetrap: The Fable of the Dying Voice.” SubStance 37.3 (2008): 152-68.

Danta, Chris and Dimitris Vardoulakis. “Foreword: The Political Animal.” SubStance 37.3 (2008): 3-6.

Danta, Chris. “The Poetics of Distance: Kierkegaard’s Abraham.” Literature & Theology 21.2 (2007): 160-77.

Danta, Chris. “‘Like a dog … like a lamb’: Becoming Sacrificial Animal in Kafka and Coetzee.” New Literary History 38.4 (2007): 723-39.

Danta, Chris. “Two Versions of Death: The Transformation of the Literary Corpse in Kafka and Stevenson.” Textual Practice 20.2 (2006): 281-300.


Other publications

Danta, Chris. “The Animal Substitutes.” The Finlay Lloyd Book About Animals. Ed. Julian Davies. Braidwood, NSW: Finlay Lloyd, 2008: 87-97.

Danta, Chris. Review of Iris Bruce, Kafka and Cultural Zionism and Carolin Duttlinger, Kafka and Photography. Modernism/modernity 16.3 (2009): 619-21.

Danta, Chris. Review of Andrew Benjamin, Disclosing Spaces: On Painting. Australian Humanities Review 35 (2005).


I mainly teach 19th and 20th century English literature. I have taught the following courses at UNSW: Introduction to Literary Genre; 19th Century Prose; The English Canon; Modernism and Modernity; Jane Austen in Context; Crime Fiction, Theatre and Film and Literary Animals, Monsters and Machines.


I supervise topics in the areas of literary animal studies, literary theory, continental philosophy, 19th and 20th century European literature and science fiction.


Completed projects:

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

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


Current students:

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

George Damalas, "The Literary Animal in Sacred Space" (PhD)

Isabelle Wentworth, "Time and Empathy within the Context of Cognitive Literary Criticism" (PhD)

Emma Armstrong, "The Anthropocene and Science Fiction" (PhD)


Affiliations and membership

I am currently president of the Australasian Association for Literature: https://aalorg.wordpress.com/