Dr Rachel Murray


  • BS8 1TB

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Personal profile

Research interests

My research focuses on modernist and twentieth-century literature, animal studies, and the environment. 

My first book, The Modernist Exoskeleton: Insects, War, Literary Form (Edinburgh University Press, 2020), argued for the importance of insects to modernism's formal innovations, its engagement with key socio-political concerns, as well as its questioning of the boundaries of the human. Focusing on the prose writing of Wyndham Lewis, D. H. Lawrence, H.D., and Samuel Beckett, I uncovered a shared fascination with the aesthetic possibilities of the insect body – its adaptive powers, distinct stages of growth, and swarming formations. 

My current research project, Marine Attachments, examines aesthetic and affective responses to marine life in modern and contemporary poetry. Focusing on the writing of T. S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath, and Kamau Brathwaite, along with contemporary ecopoetry, I'm exploring how writers challenge mainstream cultural attitudes towards marine life and uncover new ways of relating to distant and seemingly ‘alien’ entities. I'm also considering what the idea of attachment – approached from various disciplinary angles – can bring to environmental thought. 

I am currently editing a book collection with Vera Fibisan entitled Blue Extinction in Literature, Art, and Culture (Palgrave, 2025), which focuses on representations of aquatic biodiversity loss from the early-modern period to the present. With Caroline Hovanec, I am the editor of a cluster of open-access essays for Modernism/modernity entitled Reading Modernism in the Sixth Extinction.

Other research interests include literature and psychoanalysis, affect theory, queer studies, and literature and science. 

I would be delighted to hear from postgraduate research students interested in twentieth-century literature and/or modernism; animal studies; the blue humanities; extinction studies; literature and science; the environmental humanities. 


I currently teach on the following units:

Literature and the Environment: Diverse Perspectives (MA)

Themes in Environmental Humanities (MA)

Animal Planet (MA)

Writing in the Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Uranium (MA)

Modernist, Experimentation and Form (MA)


Approaches to Poetry



  • Modernism
  • Animal Studies
  • Environment


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  • 1 Similar Profiles
  • University of London

    Rachel Murray (Visiting researcher)

    8 Jul 202315 Jul 2023

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesVisiting an external academic institution