Professor Sue Thomas,


Professor of English

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce

Humanities and Social Sciences

Department of Creative Arts and English

HU2 531, Melbourne (Bundoora)


MA (Qld), PhD (Qld).



Membership of professional associations

Australian Association for Caribbean Studies.
Australian Modernist Studies Network.
Contemporary Women’s Writing Association.
Early Caribbean Society.

Area of study


Brief profile

The Australian Academy of the Humanities citation records: 

Thomas is an internationally recognised specialist in the fields of 19th century women’s studies and postcolonial feminism, with special reference to Caribbean writers and transcultural aspects of literary modernism. She is renowned for both contextual and theoretical research which informs her literary criticism. Her innovative research is credited for changing the landscape of Caribbean studies and shaping our understanding of nineteenth- and twentieth-century women’s writing.


In the field of decolonising literatures Professor Sue Thomas's special areas of interest are the transculturation of modernism, and transcultural and transhistorical textual traffic. She is a member of the editorial board of Postcolonial Studies and of the National Advisory Board of the Australian Modernist Studies Network. 

Research interests

Literary Studies

- Historical approaches to Caribbean literature

- Literary texts across cultures and media

- Nineteenth- to twenty-first-century women’s writing

Literary Theory

- Modernism, colonialism and decolonisation

Post Colonial Studies

- Caribbean and Atlantic History

- Colonial Discourse Analysis

- Literature

Teaching units

  • ENG3PRE  Postcolonial Reading
  • ENG4CAL Contemporary Approaches to Literature

Recent publications

Scholarly books

  • Thomas, S 2014, Telling West Indian Lives: Life Narrative and the Reform of Plantation Slavery Cultures, 1804-1834, Palgrave, New York.
  • Thomas, S 2008, Imperialism, Reform and the Making of Englishness in Jane Eyre, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills and New York.
  • Thomas, S, Blake, A & Gandhi, L 2001, England through Colonial Eyes in Twentieth-Century Fiction, Palgrave, Houndmills and New York.
  • Thomas, S 1999, The Worlding of Jean Rhys, Greenwood, Westport, CT and London.

Edited collections of essays

  • Collett, A, McDougall, R, & Thomas, S (ed.) 2017, Tracking the Literature of Tropical Weather: Typhoons, Hurricanes, and Cyclones, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

  • Thomas, S (ed.) 2008, Victorian Traffic: Identity, Performance, Exchange, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Bibliographical monographs (selected)

Essays in books (2003-   )

  • Thomas, S 2017,  'Andrea Levy: The SS Empire Windrush and After', in Acheson, J ed., The Contemporary British Novel since 2000, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 188-198.
  • Collett, A, McDougall, R, & Thomas, S 2017, 'Tracking the Literature of Tropical Weather', in Collett, A, McDougall, R, & Thomas, S ed., Tracking the Literature of Tropical Weather: Typhoons, Hurricanes, and Cyclones, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 1-24.

  • Thomas, S 2017, 'Catastrophic History, Cyclonic Wreckage and Repair in William Gilbert's The Hurricane and Diana McCaulay's Huracan', in Collett, A, McDougall, R, & Thomas, S ed., Tracking the Literature of Tropical Weather: Typhoons, Hurricanes, and Cyclones, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 227-250.
  • Thomas, S 2017, 'Reading the Imperial Imaginary of "A Leaf from an Unopened Volume"', in Pike, J & Morrison, L ed., Charlotte Brontë from the Beginnings: New Essays from Juvenilia to Major Works, Routledge, New York, pp. 72-84.
  • Thomas, S 2015, 'Jean Rhys and Katherine Mansfield writing the "sixth act"', in Johnson, E & Moran, P ed., Jean Rhys: Twenty-first Century Approaches, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 21-39.
  • Thomas, S, Carroll, L, Palmer, C & Waese, R 2011, ‘Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Roger Michell’s Persuasion in the University Classroom: Pedagogical Strategies’, in Bloom, A & Sanders-Pollock, M ed. Adaptation: British Literature of the Nineteenth Century and Film, Cambria Press, Amherst, NY, pp. 225-241.
  • Thomas, S 2009, ‘A Balance of Stories’, in Satpathy, S ed., Southern Postcolonialisms: The Global South and the ‘New’ Literary Representations, Routledge New Delhi, New Delhi, pp. 3-16.
  • Thomas, S 2007, ‘Pathologies of Sexuality, Empire and Slavery: D.M. Thomas’s Charlotte’, in Rubik, M & Mettinger-Schartmann, E ed., A Breath of Fresh Eyre: Intertextual and Intermedial Reworkings of Jane Eyre, Rodopi, Amsterdam, pp. 101-114.
  • Thomas, S 2006 ed.  The Suffragettes, in Heilmann, A & Delap, L ed. Anti-Feminism in Edwardian Literature, vol. 3, Thoemmes Continuum/Edition Synapse, Bristol, iv + 71 pp.
  • Thomas, S 2003, ‘V.S. Naipaul’, in Schwarz, B ed. West Indian Intellectuals in Britain, Manchester University Press, Manchester, pp. 228-247.
  • Thomas, S 2003, ‘Rewriting the Hysteric as Anorexic in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions’, in Heller, T & Moran, P ed. Scenes of the Apple: Food and the Female Body in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Women’s Writing, State University of New York Press, Albany, pp.  183-198.
  • Thomas, S 2003, ‘Elizabeth Robins, the “New Woman” Novelist, and the Writing of Literary Histories of the 1890s’, in Heilmann, A ed, Feminist Forerunners: New Womanism and Feminism in the Early Twentieth Century, Pandora, London, pp. 124-137, 221-225.

Articles in refereed journals (2003-    )

  • Thomas, S 2017, 'New Light on Louis Asa-Asa and the Publication of His Slave Narrative', Notes and Queries, vol. 64, no. 4, pp. 604-607.
  • Thomas, S 2016, 'Jean Rhys Piecing the Local and the Transnational in Voyage in the Dark'Affirmations: Of the Modern, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 187-207.
  • Thomas, S 2016, 'Anne Hart Gilbert (Re)collecting "The Rise & Progress of Religion in Antigua"', Asian Journal of English Language and Pedagogy, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1-10.  
  • Thomas, S 2015, 'Transforming Jane Eyre: Its Australian Stage Adaptations', Australian Literary Studies, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 134-148.
  • Thomas, S 2015, 'Making Landfall: Towards a Critical Tempestology of Cyclones in Australia to 1850', in Rigby, K & Collett, A ed. Encountering Australia, Confronting Catastrophe, Australasian Journal of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology, vol. 5, 32-43.
  • Thomas, S 2015, 'Ghostly Presences: James Potter Lockhart and Jane Maxwell Lockhart in Jean Rhys's Writing', Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 57, no. 4, pp. 389-411. 
  • Thomas, S 2014, 'Robert Wedderburn's Correspondent Miss Campbell', Notes and Queries, vol. 61, no. 4, pp. 510-514.
  • Thomas, S 2013, ‘Affective Dynamics of Colonial Reform and Modernisation in Antigua, 1816-1835’, in Anim-Addo, J & Scafe, S ed. Affect and Creolisation, Feminist Review, no. 104, pp. 24-41.
  • Thomas, S 2013, ‘Jean Rhys Remembering the “Riot”’, Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, vol.10, no. 1, (11 pp.), 
  • Thomas, S 2013, ‘A Transnational Perspective on William Dawes’s Treatment of Women’, History Australia, vol.10, no. 1, pp. 187-204.
  •  Thomas, S 2013, ‘Revisiting Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and the Aesthetics of Respectability’, English Studies, vol.  94, no. 1, pp. 64-82.
  • Thomas, S 2012, ‘Elizabeth Hart Thwaites’s Appearances before the Antiguan House of Assembly Committee on the Correspondence of Mr Clarkson’, Notes and Queries, vol. 59, no. 3, pp. 391-394.
  •  Thomas, S 2011, ‘Anne Hart Gilbert, Creole Benevolence and Anti-Slavery, 1815-1834’, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 227-245.
  • Thomas, S 2011, ‘William Dawes in Antigua’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, vol.12, no. 1, DOI: 10.1353/cch.2011.0011. 13,500 words.
  • Thomas, S 2011, ‘New Information on Mary Prince in London’, Notes and Queries, vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 82-85.
  • Thomas, S 2007, ‘Christianity and the State of Slavery in Jane Eyre’, Victorian Literature and Culture, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 57-79.
  • Thomas, S 2006, ‘The spectre of “an empty bed”: Debbie Shewell’s More Than One Antoinette’, in Roblin, I & Perry, A ed., Jane Eyre: Past and Present, LISA e-journal, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 131-143.
  • Thomas, S 2006, ‘Frieda Cassin’s With Silent Tread and the Spectre of Leprosy in Antigua and Britain 1889-1891’, Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, vol 4, no. 1, 12pp.
  • Thomas, S 2005, ‘Crying “the horror” of prostitution: Elizabeth Robins’s “Where Are You Going To …?” and the Moral Crusade of the Women’s Social and Political Union’, Women: A Cultural Review, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 203-221.
  • Thomas, S 2005, ‘Pringle v. Cadell and Wood v. Pringle: The Libel Trials over The History of Mary Prince’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 113-135.
  • Thomas, S 2004, ‘Remembering Catherine Whitfield, Ann King and Betty Jackson: Jean Rhys and Kamau Brathwaite’s Slave Sublime’, Atlantic Literary Review, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 146-163.
  • Thomas, S 2004, ‘Jean Rhys Writing White Creole Childhoods’, in Freadman, R & Gatt-Rutter, J ed. Life-writing and the Generations, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, vol. 19, nos. 1-2, pp. 203-221.
  • Thomas, S 2004, ‘Jean Rhys’s Cardboard Doll’s Houses’, Kunapipi, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 39-53.
  • Thomas, S 2003, ‘Thinking through “[t]he grey disease of sex hatred”: Jean Rhys’s “Till September Petronella”’, in Emery, ME ed. Jean Rhys, Journal of Caribbean Literatures, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 77-90.
  • Thomas, S 2003, ‘Scenes in the Writing of “Constance Lytton and Jane Warton, Spinster”: Contextualizing a Cross-Class Dresser’, in Heilmann, A ed. Words as Deeds: Literary and Historical Perspectives on Women’s Suffrage, Women’s History Review, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 51-71.


Older publications

Essays in books (selected)

  • Thomas, S 2002, ‘Jean Rhys, “Human Ants” and the Production of Expatriate Creole Identities’, in Benjamin, A, Davies, T & Goh, RBH ed., Postcolonial Cultures and Literatures: Modernity and the (Un)Commonwealth, Peter Lang, New York, pp. 56-72.
  • Thomas, S 1997, ‘Memory Politics in the Narratives of Lindsey Collen’s The Rape of Sita, in Wright, D ed. Contemporary African Fiction, Bayreuth: Bayreuth University, Bayreuth, pp. 123-137.
  • Thomas, S 1996, “Conflicted Textual Affiliations: Jean Rhys’s “The Insect World” and “Heat,”’ in Maes-Jelinek, H, Collier, G, & Davis, GV ed., A Talent(ed) Digger: Creations, Cameos, and Essays in Honour of Anna Rutherford. Rodopi, Amsterdam, pp. 287-294.
  • Thomas, S 1994, ‘Modernity, Voice and Window-breaking: Jean Rhys’s “Let Them Call It Jazz”’, in Lawson, A & Tiffin, C ed.  De-scribing Empire: Colonialism and Textuality, Routledge, London, pp. 185-200.

Articles in refereed journals (selected)

  • Thomas, S 2003, ‘The Suffragettes: Scandal English Style’, New Literatures Review, no. 39, pp. 37-58.
  • Thomas, S 2002, ‘White Gothic in Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea, and The Albatross Muff’, in McDougall, R ed. To the Islands: Australia and the Caribbean, Australian Cultural History, no. 21, pp. 89-96, 122-124.
  • Thomas, S 2002, ‘“[T]earing me in two so slowly so slowly”: Jean Rhys’s Representations of Abortion’, Jean Rhys Review, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 7-27.
  • Thomas, S 2001, ‘Adulterous Liaisons: Jean Rhys, Stella Bowen and Feminist Reading’, Australian Humanities Review, no. 22,
  • Thomas, S 2001, ‘Miss Robins and Mrs Brown’, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 33-55.
  • Thomas, S 2001,  ‘“What happens to the spectator of hysteria’s realism?” The Reception of Elizabeth Robins and Florence Bell’s Alan’s Wife (1893)’, Australasian Drama Studies, no. 38, pp. 68-82.
  • Thomas, S 1999, ‘The Tropical Extravagance of Bertha Mason’, Victorian Literature and Culture, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 1-17.
  • Thomas, S 1998, ‘“[T]ripping out in foreign”: Erna Brodber’s Re-vision of Caribbean Modernity in Myal’, New Literatures Review: Decolonising Literatures, no. 38, pp. 95-114.
  • Thomas, S 1998, ‘Questioning Sexual Modernity: Rebecca West’s Sunflower’, AUMLA, no.89, pp. 99-120.
  • Thomas, S 1997, ‘Revisionary (Post)modernist Plausibilities? Paul Monaghan’s Staging of Obeah Night and the Film of Wide Sargasso Sea. A commentary’, Jean Rhys Review, vol. 8, nos. 1-2, pp. 30-35.
  • Thomas, S 1997, ‘Sexual Matter and Votes for Women’, Papers on Language & Literature, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 47-70.
  • Thomas, S, 1996, ‘Battlefield and Sky: Sex-Consciousness in A Room of One’s Own’, Women: A Cultural Review, vol. 7, no. 2, 160-175.
  • Thomas, S 1996, ‘William Rees Williams in Dominica’, Jean Rhys Review, vol 7, nos. 1-2, pp. 3-14. [Rees Williams was Rhys’s father.]
  • Thomas, S 1994/5, ‘Reading Female Sexual Desire in Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women’, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Literature, no. 36, pp. 107-120.
  • Thomas, S 1994, ‘Difference, Intersubjectivity and Agency in the Colonial and Decolonizing spaces of Hélène Cixous’s “Sorties.’”  Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 53-69.
  • Thomas, S 1994, ‘Libertarian Liberalism and the Comic Mode: Rose Macaulay’s Fiction of the 1920s’, Durham University Journal,n.s. vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 93-104.
  • Thomas, S 1992, ‘Rebecca West’s Second Thoughts on Feminism’, Genders, no. 13, pp. 90-107.
  • Thomas, S 1989, ‘Writing the Self: Barbara Hanrahan’s The Scent of Eucalyptus’, Kunapipi, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 53-66.
  • Thomas, S 1988, ‘Mythic Reconception and the Mother/Daughter Relationship in Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing’,  Ariel, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 73-85.
  • Thomas, S 1987, ‘Virginia Woolf’s Septimus Smith and Contemporary Perceptions of Shell-shock’, English Language Notes, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 49-57.
  • Thomas, S 1987, ‘Interracial Encounters in Katharine Susannah Prichard’s Coonardoo’, World Literature Written in English, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 234-244.
  • Thomas, S 1987, ‘Sexual Politics in Edward Brathwaite’s Mother Poem and Sun Poem’, Kunapipi, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 33-43.
  • Thomas, S 1986, ‘Betty Roland’s The Touch of Silk and Granite Peak’, Australasian Drama Studies, no. 8, pp. 81-94.
  • Thomas, S 1982, ‘The Influence of Ivan Turgenev on George Moore with Special Reference to A House of Gentlefolk and The Lake’, Irish University Review, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 157-172.
  • Thomas, S 1981, ‘A Study of George Moore’s Revisions of The Lake’, English Literature in Transition, vol. 24, pp. 174-184.

Research projects

  • Jean Rhys's literary career [Australian Research Council funded, DP140103817, 2014-2016]
  • Tracking the literature of tropical cyclones
  • Polly Teale’s late expressionist theatre  
  • Early Caribbean life narrative [Australian Research Council funded, DP0987125]
  • Travels of Jane Eyre across cultures and media [Australian Research Council funded, DP0342814]