Personal profile

Research interests

My research centres on the literature of the early-to-mid-twentieth-century, particularly Stevie Smith, Edith Sitwell, D. H. Lawrence, Gertrude Stein and Willa Cather. I work on writers who, in one way or another, disrupt narratives about what good literature should be or do: who present themselves variously as absurd, unrevealing, embarrassing or useless.

Traditional Academic Publishing

My first monograph, Hard Language (Oxford University Press, 2022), reframes short-form writing across the twentieth century, via a study of aphorism in the novels and poetry of Stevie Smith (1902-1971). Its findings offer new routes into work by twentieth-century women novelists such as Ivy Compton-Burnett. The book positions aphorism as a mode of marginalised communication in Smith’s enigmatic writing. It frames an original approach to Smith by drawing up a new theory of the aphorism—the form, I argue, fundamental to her aesthetic—as a tool for the social management of emotions, both displaying and concealing embarrassing feelings. 

My new monograph in progress, Flat Feeling, had its initial research funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Intervening in queer, trauma and affect theory, and deeply attentive to diversities of bodily, mental and sexual experience, the monograph argues that novelists including D. H. Lawrence and Willa Cather use apparently dull and unrevealing flat landscapes in England and America as metaphors, and sites, to think through underacknowledged feelings and corporealities: to name a few, queered relationship without connection, passion without focus, inexplicable attachments, and the erotics of broken memory.

Radio

Alongside my academic work in traditional venues, I am an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker, making programmes for BBC Radio 3 and 4. These include appearances on 'In Our Time', 'Word Of Mouth', 'The Essay', 'Sunday Feature', 'Free Thinking', and the Proms. See 'Publications' for links to these programmes.

Creative Non-Fiction

I also write creative non-fiction. My book A Flat Place was published by Hamish Hamilton [Penguin] in the UK and Melville House in the US in 2023, and has been reviewed positively in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Sunday Times, Times Literary Supplement, the New Statesman, the Chicago Review of Books, the i paper, the Big Issue, the Arts Desk, Five Books, De Nederlandse BoekengidsScroll.in, The Crack, and Hyphen (plus a creative nonfiction response in The Insurgence). I have written associated essays for The Guardian, Aeon, SalonFive Dials, CPRE, and Psychology Today, and been interviewed about the book for BBC Radio 3, STV, BBC Sheffield, BBC Cambridgeshire, Tolka, Critical Literary Consumption, Type on PaperBetter Known Podcast, Tender Buttons, Bad at Keeping Secrets, The Morecambe Bay Podcast, Xeno, and The Aesthetic Memoir. I have also been interviewed for the academic journal Postcolonial Text by Professor Claire Chambers.

PhD Supervision

I currently first-supervise a PhD student in Creative Writing, and second-supervise two PhD students in English Literature. At present I am just about at capacity, so I am only taking on new supervisees where the project and/or supervisor match is exceptionally good. Do feel free to get in touch to discuss your project - but please don't be offended if I'm not able to say yes this time round.

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