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


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View all Supervision



Book Chapter

  • O'Connell, Lisa (2017). Nationalism. In Peter Sabor and Betty A. Schellenberg (Ed.), Samuel Richardson in context (pp. 311-318) 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. In E. L. McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen (Ed.), The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature (pp. 218-238) 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. In H. Gilbert and C. Tiffin (Ed.), Burden or benefit? The legacies of benevolence (pp. 49-60) Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • O'Connell, Lisa (2010). Ethnographical humanism and the English marriage plot. In: Thinking the Human in the Era of Enlightenment: Abstracts and biographies. Thinking the Human in the Era of Enlightenment, Canberra, Australia, (10-10). 7-9 July 2010.

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision