Michelle Elleray | College of Arts

Michelle Elleray

Associate Professor
School of English and Theatre Studies
Phone number: 
please use email
MacKinnon 417

Areas of Specialization:

Victorian literature, particularly in relation to: literature of empire, the South Pacific, children's literature, missionary culture, and ecocriticism


PhD, Cornell University
MA (Hons), University of Auckland
Postgraduate Diploma of Teaching, Auckland College of Education
BA, Victoria University of Wellington



My research works between overlapping areas of interest in Victorian literature of empire, the South Pacific, children’s literature, and missionary culture, and more recently ecocriticism. In Victorian Coral Islands (Routledge, 2020) I explore how empire was conveyed to children by situating mid-century boys’ adventure texts alongside children’s missionary periodicals, fundraising for missionary outreach, the Missionary Museum, and Pacific Islander missionaries who visited Britain. Focusing on the textual representation of children, working-class sailors, and Pacific Islander Christians, Victorian Coral Islands explores how such figures were accorded agency in imperial spaces, so long as this agency operated within evangelically-approved parameters. My current projects address the London Missionary Society’s Juvenile Missionary Magazine and its interactions with Victorian cultural life; the tensions of Pacific Islander writing within British missionary texts; and the novel’s manifestation of scale in the Victorians’ emergent understanding of the biosphere.


With Catherine Bush I co-organize the Parkdale Project, which sees Creative Writing MFA students work with Grade 7-12 students from Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood on creative writing projects. The Parkdale Project takes as its basic premise that all students should have the opportunity to voice their ideas in creative form and forums.



"Kiro's Thoughts About England: An Unexpected Text in an Unexpected Place." Worlding the South: Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture and the British Southern Colonies, edited by Sarah Comyn and Porscha Fermanis. Manchester UP, 2021, pp. 294-311.

Victorian Coral Islands of Empire, Mission and Boys' Adventure Fiction. Routledge, 2020.

"Robin Hyde." Oxford History of the Novel in English: The World Novel to 1950, vol. 9, edited by Ralph Crane, Jane Stafford, and Mark Williams, Oxford UP, 2016, pp. 369-79.

"Imperial Authority and Passivity in the South Pacific: Geroge Manville Fenn's 'The Blackbird Trap.'"Victorian Periodicals Review, vol. 47, no. 3, 2014, pp. 319-43.

"Watermarks on The Coral Island: The Pacific Island Missionary as Children's Hero." Oceania and the Victorian Imagination: Where All Things are Possible, edited by Richard Fulton and Peter H. Hoffenberg, Ashgate, 2013, pp. 167-80.

"Sad Remains: Foreclosing Settlement in The Coral Island." Relocating Victorian Settler Narratives: Emigrants, Exiles, Returnees in Nineteenth-Century Fiction, edited by Tamara Wagner, Pickering and Chatto, 2011, pp. 153-64.

"Little Builders: Coral Insects, Missionary Culture and the Victorian Child." Victorian Literature and Culture, vol. 39, no. 1, 2011, pp. 223-38.

"Hell for White Men: Masculinity and Race in The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney." Postcolonial Studies, vol. 13, no. 1, 2010, pp. 71-90.

"Turning the Tables: Domesticity and Nationalism in Wednesday's Children." Lighted Windows: Critical Essays on Robin Hyde, edited by Mary Edmond-Paul, Otago University Press, 2008.

"Crossing the Beach: A Victorian Tale Adrift in the Pacific." Victorian Studies, pp. 47, no. 2, 2005, pp. 164-73.

"When Girls Go Bush: Katherine Mansfield Ventures Out." New Literatures Review, vol. 38, 2002, pp. 19-27. 

"Heavenly Creatures in Godzone," Out Takes: Essays in Queer Theory and Film, edited by Ellis Hanson, Duke University Press, 1999, pp. 223-40.

"Weaving the Wahine Takatapui: Mirimiri and Tahuri." SPAN, vols. 48-49, 1999, pp. 118-30. Reprinted in Queer in Aotearoa New Zealand, edited by Lynne Alice and Alice Starr, Dunmore Press, 2004, pp. 175-86.