I work in the literature of the long eighteenth century. My main fields of research are in book history and post-colonial studies, with minor interests in Enlightenment epistemology, the emergence of the novel, science studies, and literary history. My current project involves the history of the periodical in England from 1660 to 1740. Although book history tends to treat books and periodicals as basically similar, the project seeks to establish their differences. It argues that periodical publication, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, inaugurated a distinctive mode of textual production. The periodical was authorized not by a proper name, that of an author, but by a collective presence, that of its audience. It sought cultural authority through its capacity to shape a collective consciousness, and its use of time and space was critical to its consolidation of collectivity. By virtue of the repetitive frequency of its appearance, the periodical suspended its readers in a perpetually renewed present; and by means of its potentially limitless circulation, connected its readers through an invisible but traceable network. My article, “Facts and Norms in the Marketplace of Print: John Dunton’s Athenian Mercury” in Eighteenth-Century Studies 36:3, was singled out by the 2005 issue of The Year’s Work in English Studies for its attention to textual production. My interest in post-colonial studies focuses on empire as a repressed context for the industrial novel. An article entitled ‘Empire and the Industrial Novel: Imperial Commodities and Colonial Labour in North and South’ is forthcoming in Volume 26 of Nineteenth-Century Studies. I am a member of SHARP, MLA, and ASECS.
I work as an Associate Lecturer with the Open University in the South-East. I have been a tutor on A207 From Enlightenment to Romanticism, c.1780–1830 since its inception, and I particularly enjoy the pedagogical challenges that being a tutor for the OU has to offer—for example, how to establish common ground for students of dissimilar backgrounds and widely differing needs. This is a lesson I have to relearn every year. In the process, it is becoming evident to me that the humanities are the field of study best equipped to recognize and respond to our diversity. For the last twelve years, I have read essays on the same topic without finding two that express the same perspective on the same text. When this happens, I’ll have to make plans for retirement.