Michelle Neely

Assistant Professor of English

Joined Connecticut College: 2013

B.A., University of California, Berkeley
M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Irvine


American literature to 1900

Animal studies


Food studies

African-American and Native American literatures

Women's literature

Literary and political theory

Michelle C. Neely's research and teaching focus on questions of nature, culture and democracy in American literature before 1900. As an assistant professor, Neely looks forward to building on her environmental and animal studies expertise by developing courses for interdisciplinary contexts such as the Environmental Studies Program, and to teaching a wide range of seminars and surveys in American literature before 1900.

Whatever the course content, Professor Neely’s teaching practices aim to help students enjoy and interpret the complexities of the literature they read, and to wrestle with the divergent ethics modeled by early American authors.  

Michelle C. Neely graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley, and received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. Before joining Connecticut College in 2013, she was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Jackman Humanities Institute, where she also taught courses in the English department.

In Fall 2013, Professor Neely taught two courses: “Humans and Other Animals in Nineteenth-Century American Literature” and an “Essentials of Literary Study” course in which students read a wide variety of poets as well as novels and novellas by Herman Melville, Kate Chopin and Toni Morrison.

Professor Neely’s current book project, "The Antebellum Animal," examines literary, philosophical and popular representations of animal life during the nineteenth century to show how the period’s changing conceptions of “the animal” helped reshape understandings of personhood, kinship, race and literary character. An article drawn from chapter two, on the vegetarian politics of Sylvester Graham and Henry David Thoreau, recently appeared in the journal American Literature. In addition to work on her book manuscript, Neely is also completing several shorter essays on the conjunction of food and early American literature and culture. Recent conference presentations include papers presented at the American Literature Association conference, at C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists conference, at the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment conference (ASLE), and at the Emily Dickinson International Society conference.

Current projects:

  • "The Antebellum Animal" (book)
  • "Shared Suffering: Equality, Citizenship, and Human-Animal Kinship in The Bondwoman's Narrative" (essay)
  • "In Defence of Indian Corn: Franklin, Barlow, and the Embodied American" (essay)
  • "Factory Farming in Early America: Industrialization and Anticruelty Debates, 1690-1830" (essay)


  • "Reading Thoreau’s Animals," The Concord Saunterer: A Journal of Thoreau Studies (October 2014)
  • Review Essay on "Politics, Literature, and Aesthetics" in Edward Cahill’s Liberty of the Imagination: Aesthetic Theory, Literary Form, and Politics in the Early United States; Victoria Olwell’s The Genius of Democracy: Fictions of Gender and Citizenship in the United States, 1860-1945;  and Michal Jan Rozbicki’s Culture and Liberty in the Age of the American Revolution in American Literature (March 2015).
  • "Embodied Politics: Antebellum Vegetarianism and the Dietary Economy of Walden," in American Literature (March 2013)

Visit the English department website. 

Majoring in English. 

Majoring in Environmental Studies.

Contact Michelle Neely

Mailing Address

Michelle Neely
Connecticut College
Box #5426
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


322 Blaustein Humanities