It is an honor and a privilege to once again be among such a multitalented and interdisciplinary group of scholars.

My name is Sandy Burnley and I am an ABD PhD candidate currently on the job market. My areas of specialization include nineteenth-century British literature and animal studies. My current book project, Critical Entanglement: Animals in Victorian Fiction, argues that Victorians’ relationships with nonhuman animals persist in dictating how we define what it means to be a political subject in the present. Rather than consider nonhuman animals as metonymic representations of anthropocentric anxieties, I employ animal studies, posthumanist, and ecofeminist theory to examine scenes of silence or unfulfilled potential in Victorian fiction. I contend that particular scenes depicted in these novels can be read as mute challenges to anthropomorphic assumptions and the strict parameters of anthropocentric ontology and methodology. I argue such muted resistance not only unravels the strict dichotomies of the human/animal binary, or the conventional juxtaposition between vulnerability and resistance and their coinciding gender constructs, but also serves to combat the era’s sympathetic, liberal, and humanist rhetoric, thereby revealing new avenues of agency, authority, and alterity.

During my first year as a CHI fellow, I began developing a mapping project (MAP: Mapping Animal Presence) that traced political subjectivity across the Victorian Empire. While I hoped to include many more novels and genres, I was only able to excavate these sites of agency from four texts within the time allotted: William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, Ouida’s Puck, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of Baskerville, and the outlier of Virginia Woolf’s Flush (which is about Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel). This was an exciting project that aimed, and will continue to aim toward further questioning and disrupting conventional notions of what it means to be human amidst empire, industry, and globalization,. I hope that once more fully developed, this site will help challenge and redefine how we recognize and define labor, autonomy, gender roles, sexuality, identity, class, and race in these contentious political spaces. While I plan on continuing to develop this project throughout my academic career, this is not my central focus for this next round in the fellowship. Stay tuned.