BA (Hons), University of Melbourne; MA, University of Chicago; PhD, University of Cambridge
I joined the School at Nottingham in 2015, after having been a Postdoctoral Affiliate at Clare Hall, Cambridge, and a McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. I taught Practical Criticism and Literature 1830-present for several years at Selwyn College and at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge.
My research lies in the field of twentieth-century British and Irish literature, with particular emphases on poetics, modernism and the civic role of writing. In my current project (Poetry and Public Apology in the late Twentieth Century), I consider how literary works participate in acts of social reparation and apology, with specific attention paid to Geoffrey Hill, Adrienne Rich, and Judith Wright. My PhD project on contemporary poetry and ethics was titled The Example of Poetry: Moral Authority and Exemplarity in Seamus Heaney and Geoffrey Hill. My other research interests include ethical criticism; interartistic aesthetics and ekphrasis; eco-criticism; and ruin theory in contemporary fiction.
I am a member of the Modernist Studies Association, for whom I convened an international panel on Literature and Public Apology. I have published and presented on Seamus Heaney, Yeats, Geoffrey Hill, Derek Mahon, Alice Oswald, Judith Wright, and Elizabeth Bishop. My research has been published in the Modern Language Review, Philosophy and Literature, and Diogenes.
Outreach and Engagement
I have lectured for the Prince's Trust on modern poetry; taught for the Sutton Trust on Yeats and Dickens at Cambridge, and at Melbourne founded an outreach program called the Australian Youth Humanities Forum aimed at widening participation in the humanities.
I teach on modern and contemporary writing, with an emphasis on poetry. I am contributing to the following modules:
- Studying Literature
- Modern and Contemporary Literature
- Literary Histories
- Modernism and the Avant-Garde in Literature and Drama
- Place, Region, Empire
I am currently working on two main projects: the first of these is a monograph based on my PhD, titled The Example of Poetry: Moral Authority and Exemplarity in Seamus Heaney and Geoffrey Hill. The… read more
I welcome supervision proposals on twentieth and twenty-first century topics, in particular those focused on any aspect of modern poetry, or on ethical criticism, interartistic aesthetics, ecocriticism and ruin studies.
I am currently working on two main projects: the first of these is a monograph based on my PhD, titled The Example of Poetry: Moral Authority and Exemplarity in Seamus Heaney and Geoffrey Hill. The book contributes to the vein of scholarship called "ethical criticism" which argues for the utility of literary works in moral-philosophical arguments. Philosophers and critics like Martha Nussbaum, Richard Rorty, Wayne Booth and Alistair McIntrye have proposed that works of literature articulate moral ideas with a richness and depth that discursive argument cannot provide. According to this line of thinking, a full understanding of a moral concept requires readers to supplement our study of philosophical prose with extracts from fiction: to appreciate the inadequacies of utilitarianism, for instance, we would need to read Bleak House alongside Bentham. While ethical criticism as a philosophical and literary movement has had a far-reaching and continuing influence, it also has a large blind spot. Almost all the literary works it has considered so far are prose fiction. Poetry has received almost no attention, and it is this gap which my book sets out to fill.
My second project grows out of my postdoctoral research on the relationship between literature and speech acts, and is titled Poetry and Public Apology in the Late Twentieth Century: Adrienne Rich and Geoffrey Hill. I am a member of the international research network titled 'Unfinished Business' on apology cultures, with which I will be publishing a section of the research in early 2016. The impetus for the project arose from the increasing prevalence of public apologies in public life and literary works alike: they are enacted in contexts ranging from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the Australian government's apology to the Stolen Generation, to the iconic genuflection of Willy Brandt before the Warsaw Ghetto Monument. While research surrounding public apology (particularly in the context of work on trauma, memory and reconciliation) has also become increasing prevalent, literary representations of public apology remain under-researched. Works such as J. M. Coetzee's 'Disgrace', and Gail Jones' 'Sorry' present something of a scholarly conundrum. In the final historical and cultural assessment of public apologies, how are imaginative representations of apologies to be understood? Do they participate in the apologising process, or do they simply describe it? What implications does a judgement either way hold for scholarship on the larger relations between art and civic life?
I am currently planning a project in ecocriticism, titled The Architecture of Warning: Urban Ruins and the Ecological Imagination. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the ruins of the recent past have received increased attention worldwide, as seen in such diverse phenomena as the proliferating images of post-industrial Detroit, emerging pilgrimages to Chernobyl, and the documentation of post-Soviet architectural remains. This social and historical interest has been reflected in depictions of modern ruins in a growing corpus of fiction and poetry. This project investigates representations of modern urban ruins in contemporary literature and the role they play in the imaginative negotiation of ecological crisis. While considerable research has examined ruins in earlier literary periods -particularly in the Romantic era and in post-war Modernism, the current moment remains underexplored, and commands urgent scholarly attention in the context of environmental literary studies.