Professor Chris Danta

Professor Chris Danta

Honorary Professor

BA (ANU), BA (hons) (Melbourne), PhD. (Monash)

Arts,Design & Architecture
School of the Arts and Media

I am an ARC Future Fellow (2021-24) and professor of English at UNSW. After doing a BA at ANU, I received honours in English at the University of Melbourne and completed my PhD. in Comparative Literature at Monash University. From 2009 to 2011, I was an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow. 

My research operates at the intersection of literary theory, philosophy, science and theology. I call myself a literary anthropologist and am interested in how literary writers rethink what it means to be human by drawing on other knowledge systems such as religion and science. My first book Literature Suspends Death: Sacrifice and Storytelling in Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot (Bloomsbury, 2011) examines how Søren Kierkegaard, Franz Kafka and Maurice Blanchot critique the biblical story of the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22 by taking a literary approach to it. My second book Animal Fables after Darwin: Literature, Speciesism and Metaphor (Cambridge University Press, 2018) demonstrates how the rise of the biological sciences in the second half of the nineteenth century provided literary writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, H. G. Wells, T. F. Powys, David Garnett, Franz Kafka and J. M. Coetzee with new material for the fable, new ways to exploit the grotesque comparison of human and ape. After Darwin, the book claims, certain writers turn to the beast fable to problematise traditional philosophical and theological conceptions of the human and to rethink the human predominantly in relation to its biological milieu.

I am currently working on an ARC Future Fellowship with the title Future Fables: Literature, Evolution and Artificial Intelligence. This project aims to understand (1) how the post-Darwin literary imagination has shaped our current anxieties about AI and (2) how literary and scientific writers after Darwin rethink the future of the human species by imagining the co-evolution of humans, animals and machines. 

My articles have appeared in international peer-reviewed journals such as New Literary History, SubStance, AngelakiTextual Practice, Literature and Theology and Modernism/modernity

+61 2 9385 2282
211, Level 2 Robert Webster
  • Books | 2018
    Danta C, 2018, Animal Fables after Darwin: Literature, Speciesism, and Metaphor, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
    Books | 2011
    Danta C, 2011, Literature Suspends Death: Sacrifice and Storytelling in Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot, Original, Bloomsbury, New York
  • Book Chapters | 2021
    Danta C, 2021, 'Scaling Down Our Imagination of the Human: Ted Chiang and the Fable of Extinction', in Transcultural Ecocriticism: Global, Romantic and Decolonial Perspectives, Bloomsbury Academic, New York, pp. 41 - 62,
    Book Chapters | 2014
    Danta C; Groth H, 2014, 'Introduction: Between Minds', in Danta C; Groth H (ed.), Mindful Aesthetics: Literature and the Science of Mind, edn. 1, Bloomsbury, New York, pp. 1 - 14,
    Book Chapters | 2014
    Danta C, 2014, 'Derrida and the Test of Secrecy', in Interpreting Abraham: Journeys to Moriah, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, pp. 187 - 209
    Book Chapters | 2013
    Danta C, 2013, 'Animal Bachelors and Animal Brides: Fabulous Metamorphosis in Kafka and Garnett', in Moran B; Salzani C (ed.), Philosophy and Kafka, edn. Original, Lexington Books, Lanham, pp. 123 - 140
    Book Chapters | 2012
    Danta C, 2012, '"The cold illucid world": The Poetics of Gray in Cormac McCarthy's The Road', in Murphet J; Steven M (ed.), Styles of Extinction: Cormac McCarthy's The Road, edn. Original, Continuum, New York, pp. 9 - 26
    Book Chapters | 2011
    Danta C, 2011, 'Introduction J.M. Coetzee: The Janus Face of Authority', in Danta C; Kossew S; Murphet J (ed.), Strong Opinions: J.M. Coetzee and the Authority of Contemporary Fiction, edn. Original, Continuum, London and New York, pp. xi - xx
    Book Chapters | 2011
    Danta C, 2011, 'Revolution at a Distance: Jane Austen and Personalised History', in Russo S; Napton D; Cousins AD (ed.), The French Revolution and the British Novel in the Romantic Period, edn. Original, Peter Lang, New York and Oxford, pp. 137 - 152
    Book Chapters | 2011
    Danta C, 2011, 'The Melancholy Ape: Coetzee's Fables of Animal Finitude', in Danta C; Kossew S; Murphet J (ed.), Strong Opinions: J.M. Coetzee and the Authority of Contemporary Fiction, edn. Original, Continuum, London and New York, pp. 125 - 140
    Book Chapters | 2008
    Danta C, 2008, 'The Animal Substitutes', in Lloyd F (ed.), The Finlay Lloyd Book About Animals, edn. Original, Finlay Lloyd Publishers, Braidwood, NSW, pp. 87 - 97
    Book Chapters | 2005
    Danta C, 2005, '`The Absolutely Dark Moment of the Plot`: Blanchot`s Abraham', in HIll L; Nelson B; Vardoulakis D (ed.), After Blanchot: Literature, Criticism, Philosophy, edn. First, Univesity of Delaware Press, Newark, pp. 205 - 221
  • Edited Books | 2014
    Groth H; Danta C, (ed.), 2014, Mindful Aesthetics. Literature and the Science of Mind, Bloomsbury, New York
    Edited Books | 2011
    Danta C; Kossew SR; Murphet JS, (eds.), 2011, Strong Opinions: J. M. Coetzee and the Authority of Contemporary Fiction, Bloomsbury, New York,
  • Journal articles | 2023
    Danta C, 2023, '"I don't want to put my toys away"', Journal of Juvenilia Studies, 5,
    Journal articles | 2022
    Danta C, 2022, 'Earthbound in the Anthropocene', Derrida Today, 15, pp. 87 - 92,
    Journal articles | 2019
    Danta C, 2019, 'Panpsychism and speculative evolutionary aesthetics in Samuel Butler's 'The Book of the Machines'', TEXTUAL PRACTICE,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Danta C, 2018, 'Eurydice's Curse: J. M. Coetzee and the Prospect of Death', Australian Literary Studies, 33,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Danta C, 2018, 'The Theology of Personification: Allegory and Nonhuman Agency in the Work of T. F. Powys', Modernism/modernity, 25, pp. 709 - 728,
    Journal articles | 2015
    Danta C, 2015, 'Acrobats and ascetics: Peter Sloterdijk and the aesthetics of verticality', European Journal of English Studies, 19, pp. 66 - 80,
    Journal articles | 2014
    Chrulew M; Danta C, 2014, 'Fabled thought: On Jacques Derrida's the beast & the sovereign', Sub-Stance, 43, pp. 3 - 9,
    Journal articles | 2014
    Danta C, 2014, '"Might sovereignty be devouring?" Derrida and the fable', Sub-Stance, 43, pp. 37 - 49,
    Journal articles | 2013
    Danta C, 2013, 'Derrida and the Test of Secrecy', Angelaki - Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 18, pp. 61 - 75,
    Journal articles | 2013
    Danta C, 2013, 'The New Solitude: Melancholy Anthropomorphism and the Molecular Gaze', English Studies in Canada, 39, pp. 71 - 86,
    Journal articles | 2012
    Danta C, 2012, 'The future will have been animal: Dr Moreau and the aesthetics of monstrosity', Textual Practice, 26, pp. 687 - 705,
    Journal articles | 2010
    Danta C, 2010, 'The Metaphysical Cut: Darwin and Stevenson on Vivisection', Victorian Review: an interdisciplinary journal of victorian studies, 36, pp. 51 - 65,
    Journal articles | 2009
    Chris Danta , 2009, '<i>Kafka and Cultural Zionism: Dates in Palestine</i>, and: <i>Kafka and Photography</i> (review)', Modernism/modernity, 16, pp. 629 - 631,
    Journal articles | 2009
    Danta C, 2009, 'Coetzee`s Animal Afterlives', Southerly, 69,
    Journal articles | 2008
    Danta C; Vardoulakis D, 2008, 'The Political Animal Foreword', SubStance, 37, pp. 3 - 6,
    Journal articles | 2008
    Danta C, 2008, 'Kafka's Mousetrap: The Fable of the Dying Voice', SubStance, 37, pp. 152 - 168,
    Journal articles | 2008
    Danta C, 2008, 'Sarah's Laughter: Kafka's Abraham', Modernism/Modernity, 15, pp. 343 - 359,
    Journal articles | 2008
    2008, 'The Political Animal', Sub-Stance, 37, pp. 3 - 6
    Journal articles | 2007
    Danta C, 2007, 'The Poetics of Distance: Kierkegaard`s Abraham', Literature and Theology, 21, pp. 160 - 177,
    Journal articles | 2007
    Danta C, 2007, '`Like a dog ..... like a lamb`: Becoming Sacrificial Animal in Kafka and Coetzee', New Literary History, 38.4, pp. 721 - 739,
    Journal articles | 2006
    Danta C, 2006, 'Two versions of death: The transformation of the literary corpse in Kafka and Stevenson', Textual Practice, 20, pp. 281 - 300,
    Journal articles | 2005
  • Conference Presentations | 2007
    Danta C, 2007, 'The Scientific Ape: Robert Louis Stevenson and the Post-Darwinian Fable', presented at RLS 2008, Bergamo, Italy, 12 July 2007 - 13 July 2007
    Conference Presentations | 2005
    Danta C, 2005, 'Transuming Abraham: Fear and Trembling and the Poetics of Identification', presented at 1st International Kierkegaard in Asia Conference, University of Melbourne
    Conference Presentations | 2004
    Danta C, 2004, 'The Absolutely Dark Moment of the Plot', presented at Blanchot’s Abraham, International Colloquium: “Blanchot, the Obscure”

2009-2011: ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship, The scientific ape: the evolution of the animal fable after Darwin ($242,883) 

2021-2024: ARC Future Fellowship, Future fables: Literature, evolution and artificial intelligence ($930,000)

I am currently president of the Australasian Association for Literature:



My Research Supervision

George Damalas, PhD student, The Cursed Animal is Good to Write With: Goethe, Kafka and D.H. Lawrence

Emma Armstrong, PhD student, Speculative Ecologies: Science Fiction and the Anthropocene Imagination 

Completed postgraduate supervisions:

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

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

Donald Johnston (joint with Paul Patton), PhD: What Can a Body Do? Deleuze, Health and the Elaboration of a Postcolonial Symptomatological Methodology (2019)

Isabelle Wentworh, PhD: Catching Time: the Synchrony of Minds, Bodies and Objects in Literature" (2019)

Robin Hemley (joint with Anne Brewster), PhD: Real Toads in Imaginary Gardens: Fake, Faux, and Speculative Memoirs (2020)

My Teaching

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.