I trained at Oxford where I specialised in the literature and culture of the period 1780-1830, studying with Jonathan Wordsworth, Marilyn Butler, and Paul Hamilton. When I was awarded the John Knox Fellowship to Harvard University in 1985, I went there to study and then to teach, before moving to Northwestern University in Chicago, spending a total of ten years working in the US. I then returned to teach again at Oxford, before joining the Open University in 2000.
My research is based within the romantic period but extends backwards into the eighteenth century and forwards into the nineteenth; increasingly, I am interested in the cultural legacies of these periods as they persist within contemporary culture through the transformation, adaptation, and remediation of literary texts. I have published three monographs, two edited collections, and many essays and articles variously on the romantic novel and narrative verse, with an emphasis on Jane Austen and Walter Scott; women’s writing; travel-writing; literary tourism; romantic literary biography; the book in the romantic period; and the production of literary heritage sites and associated rituals of commemoration. Recent essays deal with Shakespeare gardens, tourism associated with Rousseau in Switzerland and Jane Austen in England. This work has been supported on a number of grants from the American Philosophical Society and the British Academy.
My current full-length project, funded by the British Academy, extends earlier work on literary tourism. Entitled The Author’s Effects, it deals with the emergence of the writer’s house museum as a genre through looking at a series of celebrated objects and the cultural meanings they have carried. If you would like to learn more, try my blog.
Looking ahead, the diary for 2016-17 includes continuing to act as convenor and chair of the Romantic Period Research Group, and as Past-President of the British Association for Romantic Studies. After the very successful conference in 2015, we are busy planning the next at York for 2017, under the theme ‘Improvement’. For more information see the BARS website. Upcoming speaking engagements include the Shakespeare Institute seminar series.
Over my career I have taught literary theory, eighteenth-century fiction and poetry, detective fiction, and American literature in addition to romantic period literature and culture. I have developed teaching material for the Open University (print, video, audio, and digital) on a wide variety of subjects: the literature and culture of the late eighteenth century and romantic period, nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction, children’s literature, and travel-writing. You can see my work on the Royal Pavilion at Brighton on OpenLearn; I’ve authored other teaching material for undergraduate study on Shakespeare and tourism, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Byron, Thomas De Quincey, Gustave Flaubert, Virginia Woolf, James Barrie and Daphne Du Maurier. I have chaired a number of teams responsible for the development and management of courses in production and presentation including A103 An introduction to the humanities, A207 From Enlightenment to Romanticism c.1780-1830, A230 Reading and studying literature, and A300 Twentieth-century literature. I presently have a strong interest in new modes of teaching and learning, including short-form learning materials such as 1-minute cartoon introductions to literary theory Outside the book - OpenLearn - Open University, apps such as the Poetry Prescription Poetry Prescription - OpenLearn - Open University, and material supporting the BBC4 series The Secret Life of Books on OpenLearn The Secret Life of Books: Series Two - OpenLearn - Open University
At postgraduate level, I have supervised projects on topics ranging from Samuel Richardson, through William Blake, late eighteenth-century theatre, eighteenth-century fiction and the American wars, Charlotte Smith, mental illness and the Victorian novel, and modern children’s literature. I am particularly interested in taking on projects on the late eighteenth century and romantic period, historical fiction, travel-writing, place-writing, literary biography and afterlives, and forms of literary commemoration.
In addition to speaking at academic conferences and symposia, I regularly give public lectures. Over the last few years these have included appearances at the Stratford Shakespeare Club, Dr Johnson’s House, the Edinburgh Scott Club, the Humanities Festival at the University of Lund in Sweden; the Deutsche Shakespeare Gesellschäft in Vienna; the Humanities Festival at the University of Linköping, Sweden; Chawton House Library; the Johnson Society of London; the Oxford Italian Association; the York Festival of Ideas; The Burns Birthplace. Media appearances have included slots on Woman’s Hour, a Time Team special on Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, an ‘audio postcard’ from Poet’s Corner in conversation with Andrew Motion ahead of the Royal Wedding for Radio 4’s The Sunday Programme, a programme on Oxford’s literary sites for Radio 4’s Night Waves; and BBC4’s series The Secret Life of Books.
I have acted as advisor and collaborator on various large projects to do with tourism and commemoration – including ‘Burns; The Object of Memory’ based in Edinburgh and Dundee; ‘Locating Imagination’, based at Rotterdam, ‘Shakespeare: Cultures of Commemoration’ based in Mercia, Spain, and ‘Writing Britain’s Ruins’ based in Stirling. I have acted as consultant on the redisplay of Shakespeare’s New Place for 2016, and I am presently working with TRAUM on the futures of writer’s house museums in Norway.
|Heritage Studies Research Group||Group||Faculty of Arts|
|Romantic Period Research Group||Group||Faculty of Arts|
|The Arts and their Audiences Research Cluster||Cluster||Faculty of Arts|