Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)



First Advisor

Rachel Hollander

Second Advisor

Stephen Sicari

Third Advisor

Steven Mentz


Animal studies is a growing field in the Humanities and, in particular, Literature studies. This dissertation, The Unstoppable Anthropocene Engine, focuses on canonical literature of the fin de siècle and Modernist eras that utilize animals in their narratives. Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood are the literary texts examined throughout the dissertation to discuss the importance of looking at specific animals that represent particular groups. Through these novels and poem, readers will see that when we look closely at animals and give them the time and recognition they deserve, we benefit from learning more about our animal kingdom neighbors and our own human species. The Unstoppable Anthropocene Engine explores the way humans interact with animals on the page and reveals when a reader examines the animal closely, it creates a more holistic understanding of the text/character. By exploring the animal groups: farmed animals, vivisection, hunting, privileged animals, and exploited animals, these narratives open in ways that scholars have not shown before. Human groups that suffer from cultural and political oppression often share similarities with the way animals are abused/exploited. That connection is why it is important that scholars no longer ignore the presence of an animal in a narrative nor categorize all animals as one homologous group. Each animal throughout this dissertation will be treated as an individual, and this will showcase how animal studies enhances our understanding of literature and the world.