Peter Adkins

Early Career Teaching and Research Fellow

  • English Literature
  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

Contact details

Address

Street

Room 3.04
21 Buccleuch Place

City
Edinburgh
Post code
EH8 9LD

City
Post code

Availability

  • Office Hour: Thursdays, 1-2pm (appointment by email).

Background

Peter joined the department in autumn 2021, having previously taught in the English and Comparative Literature departments at the University of Kent. His research focuses on attempts to rethink and reimagine the relationship between the human and the nonhuman in modern literature, especially within modernism. He completed his PhD in 2019, with his thesis exploring how modernist novelists responded to the changing environmental conditions of the Anthropocene, as well as its ontological, ethical and political implications. His first monograph, The Modernist Anthropocene: Nonhuman Life and Planetary Change in James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Djuna Barnes was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2022. He is currently working on a new project that examines why vegetarianism became of such interest to writers, especially modernist writers, between the years 1880 and 1940, and asks what we might learn in the present moment by exploring the imaginative, innovation and, sometimes, critical responses the diet elicited from writers and readers alike.

Qualifications

PhD, English, University of Kent (2019)

MA, English and American Literature, University of Kent (2015)

BA, English and American Literature with Creative Writing, University of Kent (2014)

Undergraduate teaching

Global Modernisms: Inter/National Responses to Modernity

Fairy Tales

Literary Studies 1a

Literary Studies 1b

English Literature Undergraduate Dissertation

Postgraduate teaching

Modernist Aesthetics

Late Modernism and Beyond

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

No

Research summary

Peter is interested in modern literature, especially modernist literature, that explores what it means to be human and our relationships with other species and the environments we live in. Peter is active in the fields of modernist studies, ecocriticism, posthumanism, and animal studies, and is particularly interested in the works of Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Djuna Barnes. 

His first book, The Modernist Anthropocene, examines how modernist writers forged new and innovative ways of responding to emergent ideas about nonhuman life, planetary change, and the human. Drawing on ecocritical analysis, posthumanist theory, archival research, and environmental history, the monograph resituates key works of modernist fiction within the ecological moment of the early twentieth century, a period in which new configurations of the relationship between human life and the natural world were migrating between the sciences, philosophy, and literary culture. Making the case that the early twentieth century is pivotal to how we understand the Anthropocene both as a planetary epoch and a critical concept, this book positions James Joyce, Djuna Barnes, and Virginia Woolf as theorists of the modernist Anthropocene, showing how their oeuvres are shaped by and actively responding to changing ideas about the nonhuman that continue to reverberate today.

Current research interests

Peter's new book project, All the Fruits of the Earth: Modernism and Vegetarianism, examines how modernist works of literature were pivotal in establishing a modern understanding of a vegetarian “identity” and many of the cultural associations it has come to encompass, from the idea of the sandal-wearing crank to the vegan killjoy. The project explores what vegetarianism meant to various writers and cultural figures and, moreover, what the literary imagining of meatless diets can tell us today about increasingly urgent questions around dietary ethics, unequal distribution to food, and sustainability.

View all 11 publications on Research Explorer

Organiser

Beastly Modernisms, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, September 2019

Virginia Woolf, Europe and Peace: The 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woof, University of Kent, Canterbury, June 2018

Papers delivered

'Tracing Modernism's Vegetarian Influencers', Hopeful Modernisms: British Association for Modernist Studies International Conference 2022, University of Bristol, 23-25 June 2022.

'Reading Woolf in the Anthropocene' Virginia Woolf and Ethics: 31st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, Lamar University, Texas, 9-12 June 2022.

‘Siberian Mammoths, Rice Pudding and Iraqi Oil Fields: ‘The London Scene’ and the Capitalocene’ 30th Annual International conference on Virginia Woolf, University of South Dakota, 10-13 June 2021.

‘Consciousness and Materiality: Reading Joyce in the Noosphere’ British Society for Science and Literature Annual Conference 2020, University of Sheffield, 15-17 April 2020. 

‘Joyce, Molly and the Revenge of Gea-Tellus.’ British Association of Modernist Studies International Conference 2019, Kings College London, 20-22 June 2019.

‘Fourwalkers, Taildanglers, Headhangers: Labouring animals and animal labour in James Joyce’s Ulysses.’ Zurich James Joyce Centre Workshop 2018, Zurich James Joyce Center, 6-11 August 2018.

‘Writing the Anthropocene: Woolf, Braidotti and Posthumanist Feminism in the time of Climate Change’ at 28th Annual International conference on Virginia Woolf, University of Kent, 21-24 June 2018.

‘Modernist Anthropocene Aesthetics’ at Aesthetics in the Anthropocene, University of Sussex, 10-11 April 2018.

‘Unclean Beasts: Reading Djuna Barnes in the era of Anthropocene Studies’ at New Work in Modernist Studies 2017, University of Leeds, 15 December 2017.

‘Green, Queer, Entangled: The Use of “Nature” in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Vita Sackville-West’s The Land’ at 27th Annual International conference on Virginia Woolf, University of Reading, 29th June – 2nd July 2017.

‘The Eyes of Dead Animals: Nineteenth Century Meat Production in James Joyce’s Ulysses’ at Consuming Animals, University of York, 17-18th March 2017.

‘Nature’s Queer Tricks: Historicizing the Anthropocene with Virginia Woolf’ at MLA Convention 2017, Philadelphia, 5-8 January 2017.

‘The Ineluctable Thereness of the Anthropocene: Joyce, Modernism and Ecology’ at ASLE-UKI Postgraduate Conference 2016, University of Lincoln, 31st August – 2nd September 2016.

‘How Do Contemporary Posthuman Readings of Phenomenology Challenge Longstanding Ideas of a Recognisably “Human” Subject?’ at Cross-Disciplinary Phenomenology: A Readiness for the Questionable, University of Kent, 24th June 2016

‘Challenging Joyce: The Claim of the Nonhuman in Ulysses and Elizabeth Costello’ at XXV International James Joyce Symposium, University of London, 13-18 June 2016.