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Tara MacDonald

Chair and Associate Professor


Brink 230



Mailing Address

English Department
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1102
Moscow, Idaho 83844-1102

Tara MacDonald teaches nineteenth-century British literature and women’s literature.

  • Ph.D., English Literature, McGill University, 2008
  • M.A., English Literature, Queen’s University, 2002
  • B.A. Honours, English Literature, Dalhousie University, 2001

Tara MacDonald joined the English Department at the University of Idaho in 2015 after teaching at the University of Amsterdam for five years. Her work focuses on nineteenth-century literature, gender, and affect. Her most recent book, Narrative, Affect, and Victorian Sensation: Wilful Bodies, was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2023. It argues that Victorian sensation novels – long dismissed as plot-driven, silly, and feminine – develop complex theories of narrative affect, our embodied responses to reading, imagining, and even writing a narrative. Additionally, the book radically expands the field of sensation fiction, taking seriously lesser-known female authors, and reading them alongside a range of writers not typically considered sensational. Her first book, The New Man, Masculinity and Marriage in the Victorian Novel (Routledge, 2015), explored literary representations of the New Man, the male counterpart to the feminist New Woman. It argued that the New Man, though derided in the fin de siècle popular press, was imagined as a utopian figure by many New Women writers who saw him as a model of gentle, caring masculinity. She also co-edited, with Anne-Marie Beller, Rediscovering Victorian Women Sensation Writers (Routledge, 2014). 

Current research projects include a special issue of Studies in the Novel (56.4) on “Strange Temporalities: Gender, Time, and the Novel,” co-edited with Angela Du, and forthcoming in December 2023 and two book collections: The Routledge Companion to Sensation Fiction, co-edited with Anne-Marie Beller (under contract with Routledge) and Victorian Gaslighting, co-edited with Diana Bellonby and Nora Gilbert (under advanced contract with SUNY Press).

  • Affect and Emotion
  • British Literature
  • Narrative Theory
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Women’s Writing


  • Narrative, Affect, and Victorian Sensation: Wilful Bodies. Monograph. Edinburgh University Press, 2023.
  • The New Man, Masculinity and Marriage in the Victorian Novel. Monograph. Routledge, 2015.
  • Rediscovering Victorian Women Sensation Writers: Beyond Braddon, co-editor. Edited with Anne-Marie Beller. Routledge, 2014. 

Special Journal Issues:

  • Strange Temporalities: Gender, Time, and the Novel. Special Issue of Studies in the Novel, 56.4, co-edited with Angela Du. December 2023.
  • Beyond Braddon: Re-Assessing Female Sensationalists. Special Issue of Women’s Writing. Co-edited and Introduction with Anne-Marie Beller. 20.2: 2013.
  • Neo-Victorianism and Feminism: New Approaches. Special Issue of Neo-Victorian Studies. Co-edited and Introduction with Joyce Goggin. 6.2: 2013.

Recent Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

  • “Introduction: Novel Futures Beyond Times of Crisis,” Special Issue of Studies in the Novel, 56.4, co-written with Angela Du. December 2023.
  • “Middle Novels.” Wilkie Collins in Context. Ed. William Baker and Richard Nemesvari. Cambridge University Press. Forthcoming, 2023.
  • “I veer about between hope and despair”: Utopian Visions in Victorian Sensation Fiction.” Victorian Popular Fictions Journal 4:1 (2022): 1-20.
  • “‘Duck him!’: Private Feelings, Public Interests, and Ellen Wood’s East Lynne.Reassessing Women’s Writing of the 1860s and 1870s. Ed. Adrienne Gavin and Carolyn Oulton. Palgrave, 2020. 43-56.
  • “Bodily Sympathy, Affect, and Victorian Sensation Fiction.” A Feel for the Text: Affect Theory and Literary Critical Practice. Ed. Stephen Ahern. Palgrave Studies in Affect Theory and Literary Criticism, 2019. 121-137.
  • “The New Man’s Body in Ménie Muriel Dowie’s Gallia.” The Male Body in Victorian Literature and Culture. Ed. Ruth Heholt and Joanne Parsons. Edinburgh University Press, 2018. 65-83.
  • “Neo-Victorian Feminist History and the Political Potential of Humour.” Neo-Victorian Humour. Ed. M. L. Kohlke and Christian Gutleben. Brill, 2017. 170-91.
  • “Class and Gender in the Brontë Novels.” The Blackwell Companion to the Brontës. Ed. Diane Hoeveler and Deborah Denenholz Morse. Blackwell, 2016. 485-99.
  • “‘The Heroine of a Modern Sea Epic’: The New Woman Adventuress in Grant Allen’s The Type-Writer Girl.” Middlebrow and Gender, 1880-1930. Ed. Christoph Ehland and Kate MacDonald. Rodopi, 2016. 121-37.
  • “Sensation Fiction, Gender and Identity.” The Cambridge Companion to Sensation Fiction. Ed. Andrew Mangham. Cambridge University Press, 2013. 127-40.
  • “‘She’d give her two ears to know’: The Gossip Economy in Ellen Wood’s St. Martin’s Eve.” Economic Women: Essays in Desire and Dispossession in Nineteenth-Century British Culture. Ed. Lana L. Dalley and Jill Rappoport. Ohio State University Press, 2013. 179-92.

  • The Routledge Companion to Sensation Fiction and Victorian Gaslighting


  • Presidential Midcareer Award, University of Idaho, 2022
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Idaho, 2019
  • ORED RISE Arts and Humanities Project Grant for Imagined Futures, Feminist Past, 2019
  • Seed Grant Award for Narrative, Emotion, and the Victorian Sensation Novel, University of Idaho, 2017-18
  • Summer Research Grant, University of Idaho, for travel to Amsterdam and London, 2016
  • Grant from the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for workshop on Emotion and Subjectivity (1300-1900), co-organized with Kristine Johanson, 2014
  • Faculty Enrichment Grant, International Council for Canadian Studies, 2011
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2008-2010
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship, 2005-2007
  • Slava Klima Prize for Overall Excellence in Doctoral Program, McGill University, 2005

English Department

Physical Address:
200 Brink Hall

Mailing Address:
English Department
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1102
Moscow, Idaho 83844-1102

Phone: 208-885-6156


Web: English