Peter Adkins

Early Career Teaching and Research Fellow

  • English Literature
  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

Contact details



Room 3.04
21 Buccleuch Place

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


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 is coming out with 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.


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)

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 6 publications on Research Explorer


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