Dr Robert McKay
Senior Lecturer in English Literature
MA (Glasgow) MA PhD PCHE (Sheffield)
University Director of Learning and Teaching (Student Engagement)
Room 2.16, Jessop West
Internal extension: 28492
My first degree was in English Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow. I then came to Sheffield to study for an MA in Narrative and completed a PhD here in 2004. I have taught in the School of English since then.
My research focuses on the representation of animals and the ethics of human-animal relations in literature, film and culture since 1945.
My research analyses the way novelists, film-makers and other thinkers have responded to unjust relations between humans and other animal species as aesthetic problems as well as political and ethical ones.
More broadly, I am interested in any aspect of the understanding of animals, animality and human-animal relations in culture and am active in the research field of interdisciplinary animal studies. In particular, I am co-Director of the Sheffield Animal Studies Research Centre, a network of University of Sheffield researchers, visiting, honourary and postdoctoral fellows, and graduate and undergraduate students. ShARC hosts a range of seminars, conferences and other events.
I am currently working on two books. The first of these is called Animal Form. It focuses on the period from 1970 to the present and especially on the work of Margaret Atwood, J.M. Coetzee, Michel Faber, Deborah Levy and Alice Walker. In the other project I look at how the literature, film and culture of the post-war period, complicates and exceeds the understanding of animals’ value in public animal welfare humanitarianism. I am studying figures such as James Agee, Guy Endore, Arthur Miller, John Huston, Romain Gary, Peter Viertel, Patricia Highsmith, Brigid Brophy, Walker Hamilton and others.
In 2006 my co-written book (with the Animal Studies Group) Killing Animals was published by University of Illinois Press. In 2000 I co-organised Millennial Animals: Theorising and Understanding the Importance of Animals, a conference here at Sheffield that was cited (by Cary Wolfe in PMLA) as groundbreaking in the field. I have co-curated exhibitions of contemporary art addressing animal issues and I also co-organised the Reading Animals conference at Sheffield in 2014.
I am the series co-editor of Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature, Associate Editor (Literature) for Society and Animals (Brill). I have contributed review essays to Society and Animals, Modern Fiction Studies, and Safundi and acted as an editorial reviewer for Humanimalia, Australian Literary Studies, Parallax, Mosaic, PMLA, Society and Animals, Anthem Press and Columbia University Press.
My main teaching interests span the modern and contemporary periods, in film, and in introducing students to literature and theory. I have developed a number of modules based on my research:
Students on the latter have collaborated with others from several other universities to produce
In 2013 with Matthew Holman I won the inaugural Higher Education Academy Staff-Student Partnership Award and in 2008 I won a University of Sheffield Senate Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. I was also the Arts Faculty adviser on and co-writer of The Academic Skills Hub, an internet encyclopaedia and teaching resource for generic academic skills, which has been integrated into the University of Sheffield's 301 Study Skills tutorials.
I am interested in supervising research on any aspect of the representation of animals and human-animal relations in literature, film, culture and theory. I am especially interested in projects that focus on the period from around 1930 to the present but welcome expressions of interest about any animal studies / critical animal studies project. I have particular expertise in food ethics and in political and moral thought about animals more broadly as these issues play out in cultural texts.
Recent and current supervision includes doctoral projects on:
Journal Special Issues
Articles, Essays, Chapters etc.
Exhibitions and Artworks