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Tobias Menely joined the faculty at UC Davis in 2014, after teaching at Miami University and Willamette University. His teaching and research focus on the long eighteenth century, from the Restoration to Romanticism. In his first book, The Animal Claim: Sensibility and the Creaturely Voice (University of Chicago Press, 2015), Menely links the poetics of sensibility with Enlightenment political theory, humanitarian advocacy, and the debates leading to Britain’s first animal welfare legislation, Martin’s Act of 1822. Some of the perplexities of animal rights as a historical phenomenon, he argues, are resolved if we see rights as neither intrinsic to nature nor contingent on state recognition but as a communicative transaction, a claim—etymologically, a cry or clamor—that precedes the law and yet is only realized in the law. Menely’s current book project is “The Climatological Unconscious: Poetry and Political Economy in the Early Anthropocene.” His essay, “‘The Present Obfuscation’: Cowper’s Task and the Time of Climate Change” (PMLA 127:3), was awarded the MLA’s William Riley Parker Prize. He's currently co-editing a collection of essays, "Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geologic Times."
The Animal Claim: Sensibility and the Creaturely Voice (The University of Chicago Press, Spring 2015)
“Anthropocene Air.” the minnesota review 81 (2014): 92-101. Special issue, “Writing the Anthropocene.” Ed. Kate Marshall and Tobias Boes.
“‘The Present Obfuscation’: Cowper’s Task and the Time of Climate Change.” PMLA 127:3 (May 2012).
“Red.” Co-written with Margaret Ronda. Prismatic Ecology: Ecotheory Beyond Green. Ed. Jeffrey Cohen. University of Minnesota Press. 2013. 22-41.
“Acts of Sympathy: Abolitionist Poetry and Transatlantic Identification.” Affect and Abolition in the Anglo-Atlantic, 1770-1830. Ed. Stephen Ahern. Ashgate Press. 2013. 45-67.
“Sovereign Violence and the Figure of the Animal, from Leviathan to Windsor-Forest.” Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 33:4 (Winter 2010): 567-82. Special issue, “Representing Animals.”
“Returning to Emotion, via the Age of Sensibility.” Review Essay. Eighteenth-Century Life 34.1 (Winter 2009): 114-24.
“Zoöphilpsychosis: Why Animals Are What’s Wrong With Sentimentality.” symploke 15.1/2 (Dec. 2007): 244-67.
“Animal Signs and Ethical Significance: Expressive Creatures in the British Georgic.” Mosaic 39.4 (Dec. 2006): 111-27. Special issue, “The Animal.”
“Traveling in Place: Gilbert White’s Cosmopolitan Parochialism.” Eighteenth-Century Life 28.3 (Fall 2004): 46-65.
Education & Interests:
- PhD, Indiana University
- BA, Beloit College