Tristanne Connolly

Associate Professor

Photo of Tristanne Connolly
PhD, Cambridge
MA, McMaster
BA, McMaster

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I’m originally from Hamilton, and I did my BA and MA at McMaster, majoring in English with a minor concentration in Religious Studies for both degrees. As an undergraduate I fell in love with medieval literature, especially Old English, and had already long been more than half in love with Romantic poetry, so I decided to do one graduate degree on each. My MA thesis was on the medieval dream visions “Dream of the Rood” and “Pearl”. I received a Commonwealth Scholarship and continued to live in the mystical past by pursuing my PhD at King's College, Cambridge, where I was an acolyte in the beautiful Gothic chapel. I wrote my dissertation on William Blake’s central image, the human body. My preoccupation with the strange ways Blake’s mythological characters come into being, and his idiosyncratic treatment of musculature and posture in his visual art, led me to explore medical contexts: eighteenth-century midwifery writing and medical illustration. This area has been a rich vein for my research ever since, as I have pursued representations of reproduction in women’s poetry and medical texts, and gender and sexuality in Blake, most recently branching out (so to speak) into the sex lives of plants in the work of Erasmus Darwin (for whose Economy of Vegetation Blake produced some pretty impressive engravings).

Before coming to Waterloo in 2004, I was Assistant Professor at Butler University in Indiana, and before that, Instructor at Auburn University in Alabama. I taught a range of literature and writing courses, and enjoyed the opportunity to include a broad range of texts, from the Vedas to The Getaway. At St Jerome’s I’m delighted to continue to teach a wide variety of material in courses such as Sex and Marriage in Literature, Editing Literary Works, and the Jane Austen course, as well as Literature of the Romantic Period. I’ve taught graduate courses, on Blake and on Romanticism, botany and medicine, am on the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century graduate examination committees, and supervise graduate students working on Romantic-era texts and/or the relations between gender, sexuality, medicine, and writing. I also get to indulge my love of Canadian literature here, as I’m a poetry editor for The New Quarterly, and I co-organize the Canada Council-funded Reading Series at St. Jerome’s.

Selected Publications


Beastly Blake, co-edited with Helen P. Bruder. Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature series. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Canadian Music and American Culture: Get Away From Me, co-edited with Tomoyuki Iino. Pop Music, Culture and Identity series. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

British Romanticism in European Perspective: Into the Eurozone, co-edited with Steve Clark. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Sexy Blake, co-edited with Helen P. Bruder. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Blake, Gender and Culture, co-edited with Helen P. Bruder. The Body, Gender and Culture series. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2012.

Blake 2.0: William Blake in Twentieth-Century Art, Music and Cultureco-edited with Steve Clark and Jason Whittaker. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Spectacular Death: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Mortality and (Un)representability. Culture, Disease, and Well-Being: The Grey Zone of Health and Illness series. Bristol: Intellect, 2011.

Queer Blake, co-edited with Helen P. Bruder. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Liberating Medicine, 1720-1835, co-edited with Steve Clark. The Enlightenment World series. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2009.

William Blake and the Body. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.


“Human Grapes in the Wine-Presses: Vegetable Life and the Violence of Cultivation in Blake’s Milton“. Wild Romanticism ed. Markus Poetzsch and Cassandra Falke. Abingdon: Routledge, 2021. 74-90. 

‘“Terrible Thunders” and “Enormous Joys”: Blake’s Visions and James Graham’s Celestial Bed’. William Blake’s Gothic Imagination: Bodies of Horror ed. Christopher Bundock and Elizabeth Effinger.

‘“Mean, Mean Pride”: Rush’s Critique of American Cool’. Canadian Music and American Culture: Get Away From Me, 97-120.

“Flowery Porn: Form and Desire in Erasmus Darwin’s The Loves of the Plants“. Special issue on Romantic Evolutions ed. Joshua D. Lambier. Literature Compass 13.10 (2016): 604-16.

 “‘Mistaken for Natives of the Soil’: Translation and Erasmus Darwin’s Loves of the Plants British Romanticism in European Perspective, 133-54.

“‘His Stormy Bed’: Blake, Sex and Electricity” Romantic Bodyscapes: Embodied Selves, Embodied Spaces and Legible Bodies in the Romantic Age ed. Gerold Sedlmayr. Studien zur Englischen Romantikseries. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2015. 55-78.

 “‘Diverse Little Pictures’: Erasmus Darwin’s Loves of the Plants and Isabella Rosselini’s Green Porno as Interactive Media”. Poetica 79 (2013): 57-73.

 “‘He Took a Face from the Ancient Gallery’: Blake and Jim Morrison” Blake 2.0, 230-47.

“‘Nourishd with milk ye serpents’: Blake, Infant Nursing and Family Bonds” A Firm Perswasion: Essays in British Romanticism ed. Hatsuko Niimi and Masashi Suzuki. Tokyo: Sairyusha, 2012. 353-80.

 “‘Mother of Unworthy Woe’: Infant Death and Sentimental Maternity in British Romantic Women’s Poetry and Midwifery Books” Spectacular Death, 77-96.

 “‘Fear not / To unfold your dark visions of torment’: Blake and Emin’s Bad Sex Aesthetic” Queer Blake, 116-39.

 “Anna Barbauld’s ‘To a Little Invisible Being…’: Maternity in Poetry and Medicine” Liberating Medicine, 209-24.

“Transgender Juvenilia: Blake’s and Cristall’s Poetical Sketches Women Reading William Blake, ed. Helen Bruder. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. 26-34.

“‘The Authority of the Ancients’: Blake and Wilkins’ Translation of the Bhagavad Gita The Reception of Blake in the Orient, ed. Masashi Suzuki and Steve Clark. London: Continuum, 2006. 145-58.

Fellowships & Awards

  • Corresponding Fellowship, The English Society, 2016-
  • University of Manchester Research Networking Fund Grant for international collaboration in Tokyo on Eighteenth-Century Literature and Medicine, 2013
  • Distinguished Teacher Award, University of Waterloo, 2010
  • Visiting Fellow, Institute of American and Canadian Studies, Sophia University, Tokyo, 2009-
  • Canadian Institutes of human Resources (CIHR) Operating Grant, "City Life and Well-Being: The Grey Zone of Health and Illness". Co-investigator, researching "Midwifery and Collective Representations of the Reproductive Body". Primary investigator: Alan Blum. Project based at uWaterloo. 2006-2011.
  • Government of Canada Department of Foreign Affairs Cultural Personalities Exchange Program grant for lecture tour of Japan. 2006.
  • St. Jerome's University Faculty Research Grant. 2005, 2012.
  • Butler University Awards Committee Faculty Fellowship. 2005.
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship. 1998-1999.
  • Imperial Older Daughters of the Empire (IODE) War Memorial Postgraduate Scholarship. 1998-1999.
  • Commonwealth Scholarship. 1995-1998.
  • SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship 1995-1997. (declined due to Commonwealth Scholarship)
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship. 1993-1994.
  • Henry Lyman Hooker Senior Fellowship, McMaster University. 1993-1994.
  • Centennial Entrance Scholarship, McMaster University. 1993-1994.

Current Research

For a while now, much of my work has involved editing. I have been co-editing a number of essay collections with colleagues in the United Kingdom and Japan, on a variety of topics. The latest ones in progress are Austen in Asia (co-edited with Kimiyo Ogawa) and Blake Sees Jesus (another one from the dynamic duo, me and Helen Bruder). I’m also co-editor of two book series for Palgrave Macmillan: Pop Music, Culture and Identity (with Steve Clark and Jason Whittaker) and Asia-Pacific and Literature in English (with Shun-Liang Chao, Steve Clark, Alex Watson, and Laurence Williams). My long-term project, slowly but surely approaching completion, is a digital edition of Erasmus Darwin’s The Loves of the Plants, with former students Elizabeth Bernath and Alana Rigby.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

British Romantic literature and culture, especially:

  • William Blake
  • Erasmus Darwin
  • Jane Austen
  • Poetry
  • Medical writing and illustration
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Science
  • Religion