I was educated at Gosforth High School, the University of Oxford, the University of Durham, and the University of York before joining the OU in 1998. Between 2004 and 2009, I was Director of Level 1 Teaching, and between 2009 and 2012, I was Associate Dean (Curriculum) and Programme Director for the Arts and Humanities. From October 2014 to July 2015, I was Dean and Director of Studies in the Faculty of Arts. I then became interim Executive Dean for the new combined Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, before returning to regular academic life in August 2016 to get back in touch with my teaching and research interests.
Throughout my career, my main interest has been the poetry of Edmund Spenser - so my first book, The New Poet: Novelty and Tradition in Spenser's Complaints (Liverpool University Press, 1999) explored the complex poetics of Spenser's neglected Complaints volume (1591). Since 2014, I have been Book Reviews editor for The Spenser Review, see https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/spenseronline/review/. My latest monograph, The art of The Faerie Queene (Manchester University Press, 2019), is the first book centrally focused on the poetic techniques employed by Spenser in his epic, which provides close readings of his many formal innovations. Manchester also publish A Concordance to the Rhymes of The Faerie Queene with Two Studies of Spenser’s Rhymes, which I co-wrote and edited with J. B. Lethbridge (for a review see http://www.english.cam.ac.uk/spenseronline/review/volume-44/442/spensers-rhymes/). This is the first major study of Spenser's rhymes, as well as a comprehensive research tool which gives the reader access to the full range of rhymes Spenser used in his extraordinary epic. I was academic consultant an interviewee on a programme in The Secret Life of Books series on Spenser, broadcast by the BBC in 2015. Here are some additional materials from that programme: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/literature-and-creative-writing/the-lost-key
I have also worked extensively on the poetry and drama of Louis MacNeice. I welcome applications from research students interested in any aspect of sixteenth-century poetry, and those concerned with what my book on MacNeice calls 'the Poetry of the 1930s' - that is, the loose group of writers who shared social and literary connections with MacNeice, and who came to prominence at roughly the same time as him - most famously W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender, but also encompassing many less celebrated figures.
I’ve had some of my own poems published in several magazines. I was an editor of The English Review, a peer reviewed magazine aimed at sixth form students, in which I have published a wide range of articles.
At the OU, I have taught on English and interdisciplinary modules, as well as making contributions to English Language modules. My major achievement was as Chair of AA100, The Arts Past and Present, an innovative module which reconceptualised the teaching of arts subjects for entry level students. As a consequence of the success of AA100, in 2010 I received an OU teaching award in recognition of my outstanding commitment to the teaching of the Arts and Humanities. I’ve made significant contributions to A230, Reading and Studying Literature; AA306, Shakespeare; text and performance; A300, Twentieth-Century Literature; Texts and Debates; and AA305, The Renaissance in Europe: A Cultural Enquiry. More recently, I have written two units (one on As You Like It, one on The Faerie Queene) for A334, English Literature from Shakespeare to Austen; I am the current Chair of A334. Recent work on modules in production includes units on reading poetry for A111, Discovering the Arts, the successor module to AA100. I am Deputy Chair of A233. Telling Stories: The Novel and Beyond, for which I have written materials on the medieval poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; this blog post gives a sense of the challenges and delights of working on this extraordinarily rich text: http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/english/what-i-love-about-this-job-or-learning-the-merits-of-language/. I'm also working on units on Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night's Dream for A112, Turning Points in Culture.