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Michael Tondre

Associate Professor of English
Ph.D. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2010
Nineteenth-century British literature, history and philosophy of science, critical theory, gender and sexuality
Humanities 1089
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  • Biography


    Michael Tondre joined the English department after completing his graduate work at Oxford University (M.Phil, 2003) and the University of Michigan (Ph.D., 2010). He is an Associate Professor and author of two books: The Physics of Possibility: Victorian Fiction, Science, and Gender (2018), and Oil (under contract with Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series). His writing has also appeared in journals such as PMLA, ELH, Victorian Studies, Victorian Literature and Culture, and Nineteenth-Century Literature, and has recently received the 2018 Schachterle Essay Prize (from the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts) and the 2019 Nineteenth-Century Studies Association Article Prize.


    Tondre’s research currently centers on the politics of energy and the shaping force of literature in imagining regimes of resource extraction, circulation, and consumption across the hemispheric divide. He is now completing Refinement: Oil, Aestheticism, and the Atlantic World, 1850-1930. 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 global fantasies of petroleum power, and vice versa, in the era heralding the dawn of oil culture. In recent years he has taught courses on the industrial literature of climate, histories of energy and the environment, Afrofuturisms, imperial imaginaries, British aestheticism and decadence, and new and pre-modern materialisms.  

  • CV
  • Selected Publications


    The Physics of Possibility: Victorian Fiction, Science, and Gender (U of Virginia Press, Victorian Literature and Culture series)

    "Conrad's Carbon Imaginary: Oil, Imperialism, and the Victorian Petro-Archive," Victorian Literature and Culture (“Open Ecologies” special issue, forthcoming)

    "The Impassive Novel: 'Brain-Building' in Walter Pater's Marius the Epicurean" PMLA 133 (2018): 329-346.

    "'The Interval of Expectation': Delay, Delusion, and the Psychology of Suspense in Armadale,"  ELH 78 (2011): 585-608.

    "George Eliot's 'Fine Excess': Middlemarch, Energy, and the Afterlife of Feeling,"  Nineteenth-Century Literature 67 (2012): 204-233.

    Review: “The Life of George Eliot, by Barbara Henry,”  Nineteenth- Century Literature 67 (2013): 561-564.

    Review: “Vision, Science, and Literature, by Martin Willis,”  Victorian Studies 56 (2014): 375-380 .