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Dr Danielle Sands - Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature and Culture

Dr Danielle Sands - Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature and Culture

I teach on the Comparative Literature and Culture programme in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. My research focuses on literature and philosophy of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and engages particularly with questions of subjectivity, agency and ethics.

My earlier research concentrated on the human and the ways in which our understanding of selfhood is informed by discourses of religion and politics. More recently, I have been thinking about questions of subjectivity and agency in relation to nonhuman beings such as animals and plants. This led to the publication of my first book, Animal Writing: Storytelling, Selfhood and the Limits of Empathy (EUP 2019), which reads contemporary fiction and philosophy alongside each other to examine the benefits of empathy in facilitating cross-species understanding and kinship. It is particularly interested in the stories that we tell about insects, and suggests that the indifference, even disgust, we feel towards them might form the basis of an inhuman ethics not restricted by empathy.  

In 2018, I received a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award for the project 'Posthumanities: Redefining Humanities for the Fourth Industrial Age.' This consisted of a series of workshops which explored how the posthumanities – which challenge our assumptions about the superiority of the human – might influence policy-making in bioethics, animal welfare and artificial intelligence. You can find the event recordings here. For 2020-22, I am Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded network ‘The Philosophical Life of Plants,’ led by my colleague Dr. Dan Whistler, which involves engagement with partners including Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. I am the editor of Philosophy and the Human Paradox (Routledge 2020) and am currently working on two books: an edited volume, Bioethics and the Posthumanities (Routledge 2020), and a monograph, Writing Religion, Politics and Life after Derrida (Bloomsbury 2021).

Supporting PhD researchers is one of the best bits of my job. I currently supervise PhDs in animal studies, philosophy, contemporary literature and the environmental humanities, and was delighted to be awarded the runner-up prize in the Royal Holloway Doctoral Supervision Awards in 2020. Since September 2019, I have been the Director of Postgraduate Education (Research) for the School of Humanities. I also run the TECHNE Conflux ‘How Like a Leaf: Art, Nature, World’ (2018-20), which runs events for PGR researchers.

I am a Fellow at the Forum for Philosophy, an educational charity based at the LSE, and organise and chair philosophical events aimed at a public audience. You can listen to Forum podcasts here.

Twitter: @DanielleCSands

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