Dominic O'Key

Dominic O'Key

PhD candidate in Comparative Literature

Summary: Comparative Literature; Critical Theory; W. G. Sebald; J. M. Coetzee; Critical Animal Studies; critical veganism; the creaturely;


"Creaturely Forms: Sebald, Coetzee, Devi"

My research project investigates the concepts of the "creature" and the "creaturely" in the works of W. G. Sebald, J. M. Coetzee, and Mahasweta Devi. By working with a definition of the creaturely that sits somewhere between animal studies and political theology, and between posthumanism and humanism, I am particularly interested in how the novel form simultaneously challenges and reinforces the space between humans and nonhumans.

I am supervised by Dr Helen Finch and Dr Sam Durrant. I am affiliated with Prof Stuart Taberner's Leverhulme Trust Major Research Project "Traumatic Pasts, Cosmopolitanism, and Nation-Building in Contemporary German and South African Literature".

My PhD research is fully funded by the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies' Doctoral College of the Arts.

Activities: I am an editor of the cultural studies and critical theory journal, parallax. I convene the Creaturely Life reading group, and was the 2016/17 co-director of Quilting Points, the interdisciplinary critical theory group. For this, Rachel Johnson and I focused on the work of Hannah Arendt, and invited presentations from Profs. Simon Swift (Geneva), Patrick Hayden (St Andrews) and Lyndsey Stonebridge (East Anglia). I co-organised the WRoCAH-funded event World Against Globe: Reconceptualising World Literatures Today (April 2016) and the workshop Futures of Memory (Feb 2017). Most recently, Ian Ellison and I hosted a workshop on W. G. Sebald: Beyond Sebald: New Trajectories in Sebald Studies (May 2017). I am a member of the Northern Animals collective.

Recent conferences: I have presented on literature and cinema at conferences including: Coetzee and the Archive (2017); 'Contemporary Literature and the Archive' at American Comparative Literature Association Annual Convention (2017); Universität Würzburg's Texts, Animals, Environments: Zoopoetics and Environmental Poetics (2016); Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre's workshop Confronting Difficult Pasts (2016);Stockholms Universitet's workshop The Creaturely, The Human, The Global (2016); Universiteit Gent's Questions of Scale in Contemporary Literature (2016); Universität Kassel's Animal Biographies (2016); the University of Cumbria's Visualising the Animal (2015); and the University of Sheffield's Reading Animals (2014). In October 2015 I was invited to the University of Manchester to discuss Werner Herzog's documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams. You can listen to this paper here

Teaching and responsibilities:


'W. G. Sebald's Zoopoetics: Writing After Nature', in Texts, Animals, Environments, ed. by Frederike Middelhoff, Sebastian Schönbeck, Roland Borgands, Catrin Gersdorf (Freiburg: Rombach, forthcoming 2017)

'Postscript, Posthuman: Werner Herzog's Crocodile at the End of the World', in Animal Biographies, ed. by André Krebber and Mieke Roscher (forthcoming, 2017)

'Paul Celan and the Poetics of Anxiety', WRoCAH Journal, vol. 1 (2016)

'The First Need: Hunger in Jan Nemec's Diamonds of the Night', Studies in Eastern European Cinema, vol. 7 (2016), 102-113


'Look to the Piglet: on Bong Joon-Ho's Okja', Berfrois, 2017, co-authored with Caitlin Stobie

'Writing Between Species: Yoko Tawada's Memoirs of a Polar Bear', 3:AM Magazine, 2017

'Curiosity and Refusal: Werner Herzog's Late Documentaries', The Cinematologists, 2017 

Find my Academia profile here.