Heather Ray Milligan

Thesis title: The Contemporary Ecogothic Novel: Time, Intimacy, Affect, Form


MSt English (1900-present) with Distinction, University of Oxford, 2019

MA (Hons) English Literature, First Class, University of Edinburgh, 2018

Responsibilities & affiliations

Reader, James Tait Black Prize for Fiction (2021–2023)

Fiction & Poetry Editor, Epilogue Magazine (2019–present)

Member, ASLE-UKI

Undergraduate teaching

  • Tutor for Literary Studies 2A and Literary Studies 2B (2022–23)

Research summary

My doctoral research on the ecogothic brings contemporary Gothic fiction in conversation with recent work in the environmental humanities on climate collapse, deep time, settler colonialism, and extractivism. The thesis proposes twenty-first-century fiction deploys Gothic preoccupations with history, inheritance, and resurgent temporalities to foreground legacies of invasion, colonialism, fossil capitalism, and heteropatriarchy as the origins and reproducers of destructive ecological relations today. I read the work of contemporary authors Hanya Yanagihara, Jeff VanderMeer, K-Ming Chang and Alexis Wright to illustrate both the revolutionary potential and reactionary limitations of the ecogothic in addressing the political and historical contexts of collapse. 

Current research interests

20th- and 21st-century fiction, ecocriticism, gothic, queer and trans ecology, settler colonial and Indigenous studies, affect theory, narrative time, new formalism, social movements

Affiliated research centres

Papers delivered

December 2023 – ‘Gothic Returns to Queer Ecology: On Reweirding Entanglement’, Imagining Queer Ecologies, British Society for Literature & Science Winter Symposium, University of Oxford.

November 2022 – 'Experimental Encounters with Ecogothic', 3-Minute Thesis Competition, Carnegie Scholars' Gathering, Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh (2nd prize).

September 2022 – 'Queer Ecology and Evolutionary Time in K-Ming Chang's Bestiary', ASLE-UKI Biennial Conference, Northumbria University, Newcastle.

June 2022 – ‘“Nothing is proved, nothing is known”: The Ethics of Virginia Woolf’s Scepticism’, 31st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, Lamar University, Beaumont, T.X. 

August 2021 – ‘“The totality of this mid-Collapse condition”: The Plurality of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy’, ASLE Virtual Conference.


Book reviews