Hi everyone. My name is Sandy Burnley. Sorry for the “late” post. Technology easily confuses me so this should be a fun semester.

As for things with which I am a little more familiar: I am a fifth year doctoral candidate in the English Department with a certificate in Animal Studies. Broadly speaking, my research revolves around exploring nonhuman animals in Victorian literature. More specifically, I examine what authors may mean when they make animals speak, and of increasing interest, what new narratives arise when animals remain silent.

My dissertation then explores how silent characters challenge, disrupt, and resist human ontology and enlightenment ideals by not catering to them. The narratives I aim to extract then resist ventriloquizing nonhuman lives, and instead reimagines what agency, subjectivity, and sentience might look like outside of the human/animal binary. By repositing resistance within such vulnerable spaces, I hope to continue to unravel dichotomous modes of thought and produce a new narrative methodology that ask what animals might have to say if they were not asked to speak.

I am honored to be a CHI fellow. This initiative will help me harness the tools to not only expand my digital presence, but use large data collection and visualization to map nonhuman characters across a Victorian landscape. Since I focus on silence rather than anthropomorphic texts, mapping these characters will help illustrate the significance of their presence outside of linguistic ability, and think about how varying bodies impact our cultural production and social constructs. Not to mention it is going to be a crushing blow to my ego as I struggle every week with my arch nemeses–the dreaded technological platforms.