Associate Professor Lisa O'Connell

Associate Professor

School of Communication and Arts
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+61 7 336 53323


Lisa specializes in eighteenth-century British literature. She trained at Melbourne and Brown universities and has held fellowships at various international English departments including Johns Hopkins University and the Free University Berlin.

Her research interests include sentimental fiction, theories of enlightenment and secularization and early global literatures. She has published on a range of topics including the English marriage plot, libertinism, popular anthropology, travel narrative, settler fiction and courtesan memoirs.

She teaches courses on the history of the novel, the literature of enlightenment, Gothic fiction and literary realism in the School of Communication and Arts where she is available to supervise honours and post-graduate theses across the broad fields of novel studies, post-colonialism, women's writing and global fiction.

Lisa's most recent research, a new account of why and how marriage became central to the English novel, is the subject of a book with Cambridge University Press titled The Origins of the English Marriage Plot: Literature, Politics and Religion in the Eighteenth Century (2019).

Her past Australian Research Council-funded Discovery Projects include 'Secularisation and British Literature, 1600-1800' and 'The Cultural Impact of Irregular Marriage in the Age of British Colonialism'.

She is currently working on three collaborative projects: 'Spaces of Enlightenment', with Dr Peter Denney (Griffith U), forthcoming in Eighteenth-Century Life (Duke UP); 'The Colonial Reinvention of Anglo-European Literary Culture, 1680-1832', with Prof. Dr. Jennifer Wawrzinek (FU Berlin), forthcoming in Postcolonial Studies (Taylor & Francis); and a co-edited book with Dr Peter Denney titled 'Natures of Enlightenment: Cultures of Environment in the British World, 1700-1840'.

Research Interests

  • Secularization and British Literature, 1600-1800
    My current project, on sentimentalism and secularization, is part of a collaborative project on 'Secularization and British Literature, 1600-1800', with Prof Simon During and Dr Alison Scott. The project uses and expands upon recent models of European secularization to develop a new account of British literary history in the 17th and 18th centuries. By focusing on writing that emerged from three particular movements—neostoicism, sentimentalism and evangelicalism—it shows that literature in the period did not conform to a narrative of triumphant secularization. Rather, literary writing knew no secular/religious divide at all. From this perspective, key literary genres—the essay, the novel and meditative poetry—acquire new contexts, purposes and meanings.
  • 18th Century British literature
  • Gothic Fiction
  • Theories of Enlightenment and Secularisation
  • Gender Studies
    18th and early 19th-century women’s writing; history of sexuality; marriage fiction and law; courtesan memoirs.
  • Colonial and Postcolonial Studies
    settler colonial writing (Australia & New Zealand); British travel writing 1700-1820; 18th-century popular ethnography; early global literatures.


  • PhD, Brown
  • Master of Arts, University of Melbourne
  • Bachelor of Arts (Hons), University of Melbourne


View all Publications


View all Supervision



Book Chapter

  • O'Connell, Lisa (2017). Nationalism. Samuel Richardson in context. (pp. 311-318) edited by Peter Sabor and Betty A. Schellenberg. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781316576755.039

  • O'Connell, Lisa (2014). The libertine, the rake, and the dandy: personae, styles, and affects. The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature. (pp. 218-238) edited by E. L. McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen. New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CHO9781139547376.015

  • O'Connell, Lisa (2008). Settler colonialism, utility, romance: E. G. Wakefield’s letter from Sydney. Burden or benefit? The legacies of benevolence. (pp. 49-60) edited by H. Gilbert and C. Tiffin. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

  • O'Connell, Lisa M. (2006). Gretna Green Novels. Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. (pp. 477-481) edited by David Scott Kastan. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

  • O'Connell, Lisa (2004). Authorship and libertine celebrity: Harriette Wilson’s regency memoirs. Libertine enlightenment: Sex, liberty and licence in the eighteenth century. (pp. 161-181) edited by P. Cryle. London: Palgrave. doi: 10.1057/9780230522817

  • O'Connell, Lisa M. (2004). Gender, Sexuality and the Family: Women's Writing, Language and Readership in The Lady's Magazine, 1770-1832. Defining gender, 1450-1910 : five centuries of advice literature online. (pp. Online-Online) edited by Sara Mendelson, Claire Walsh, Jeremy Black and Erika Rappaport. Online: Adam Matthew Publications.

  • Cryle, P. M. and O'Connell, L. M. (2004). Sex, liberty and licence in the eighteenth century. Libertine Enlightenment: Sex, Liberty and Licence in the Eighteenth Century. (pp. 1-14) edited by Peter Cryle and Lisa O'Connell. Basingstoke, England ; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • O'Connell, Lisa (2003). Matrimonial Ceremonies Displayed: Popular Ethnography and Enlightened Imperialism. Exoticism and the Culture of Exploration. (pp. 98-116) edited by Robert Maccubbin and Christa Knellwolf. Durham: Duke University Press.

  • Cryle, Peter and O'Connell, Lisa (2003). Sex, liberty and licence in the eighteenth century. Libertine enlightenment: sex liberty and licence in the eighteenth century. (pp. 1-14) edited by Peter Kryle and Lisa O'Connell. London, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9780230522817

  • O'Connell, L. M. (2002). Scotland 1800: A Tourist's Matrimonial Guide. In Transit: Travel, Text, Empire. (pp. 21-44) edited by H Gilbert and A Johnston. New York: Peter Lang.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • O'Connell, Lisa (2010). Ethnographical humanism and the English marriage plot. Thinking the Human in the Era of Enlightenment, Canberra, Australia, 7-9 July 2010. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University.

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision