My research interests span eighteeth- and nineteenth-century literature. My particular interests include working- / labouring-class writing and culture, the representation of rural life and the rural community, the representation of the relationship between space / landscape and individual / community identity, the representation of witchcraft and magic, and the representation of relationships between humans and other animals.
Research grants and awards
I had an AHRC Early Career Fellowship, the object of which was to complete my bookRomanticism and the Rural Community. This focuses on the polemical writings of John Thelwall, Hannah More, Arthur Young and Thomas Spence, the poetry of Robert Burns, William Wordsworth, George Crabbe, Robert Bloomfield, John Clare, Susanna Blamire and Ebenezer Elliot, and the fiction of Jane Austen.
I also led a collaborative British Academy funded project which is exploring the relationship between reported incidents of witchcraft and fictional narratives, and the manner in which the representation of witchcraft and magic contributes to the construction of county / regional identity in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century fiction.
My Oxford Poets and Exiled Writers project was funded by an Arts Council Grant.
My Mapping Magic project facilitates the sharing of glimpses of the past in a forum “where everyone has the chance to see it, add to it, learn from it, debate it and use it to build up a more complete understanding of the world.” Anyone can go online and ‘pin’ a snippet of text, historical photo, video, audio recording or personal recollection to an interactive map.
Regional launch events are planned for Mapping Magic in Selkirk, Scotland, in partnership with Selkirk Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme; in Haworth, West Yorkshire in partnership with the Bronte Parsonage Museum; and in Shrewsbury, in partnership with Discovering Shropshire’s History.
Rural Community: The Past Shaping the Present Shaping the Future
With Oxfordshire Rural Community Council, I jointly organised a workshop programme (for humanities academics, local policy-makers and representatives of the charity sector) in 2013 entitled Rural Community: The Past Shaping the Present Shaping the Future. The aim of the workshops was to investigate ways in which the history and representation of rural community could shape local policy-development and implementation.
Oxford Poets and Exiled Writers
Finally, my Oxford Poets and Exiled Writers outreach project (2008-9), run jointly with a former colleague (Dr Rachel Buxton) and Asylum Welcome in Oxford, brought together established poets and exiled writers to produce new work on the theme of emigration and exile, and now forms a major part of one of the REF 2014 impact case studies for English at OBU.