Michael Tondre joined the English department after completing his graduate work at
Oxford University (M.Phil, 2003) and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ph.D.,
2010). He is an Associate Professor and author of two books: The Physics ofPossibility: Victorian Fiction, Science, and Gender (Virginia, 2018) and Oil (under contract, Bloomsbury Object Lessons). He is editor of Oil! by Upton Sinclair (Penguin Classics, 2023) and has published in journals such as
PMLA, ELH, Victorian Studies,Victorian Literature and Culture, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Dickens Studies Annual, and The Paris Review.
Tondre’s current research addresses industrial-era energy cultures, with attention
to the shaping force of literature in petroleum’s earliest extraction, circulation,
and consumption across the north-south hemispheric divide. He is completing Refinement: Oil, Literature, and the British Atlantic World, 1850-1930, abridged sections from which have won the 2018 Schachterle Essay Prize (from the
Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts) and the 2019 Nineteenth-Century Studies
Association Article Prize. Situated at the nexus of the energy humanities and postcolonial
critique, Refinement asks how doctrines about aesthetic cultivation and l’art pour l’art animated sovereign fantasies of petroleum power, and vice versa, in the era heralding
the dawn of oil culture. Prof. Tondre also serves as Honors Program Director and has
taught recent courses on the industrial literature of climate, global histories of
energy and the environment, British aestheticism and decadence, imperial imaginaries,
Afrofuturism, and new and pre-modern materialisms.