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Michael Tondre

Associate Professor, Honors Program Director
Ph.D. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2010
Nineteenth-century British literature; energy and environmental humanities; history of science; critical theory
Humanities 1090
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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, 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.

  • 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 MariustheEpicurean" 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-CenturyLiterature 67 (2013): 561-564.

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