I did my BA and PhD at Cambridge, and then had two years of a Junior Research Fellowship at St Catharine’s College before coming to York. My first book Contesting the Gothic: Fiction, Genre and Cultural Conflict 1764-1832 was published by Cambridge UP in 1999, and I am in the process of completing a book provisionally titled British Orientalisms, 1759-1835.
My teaching interests are primarily in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I offer an undergraduate special module, Empire and British Identities, and an MA option module, British Orientalisms. I teach on the core courses of the MAs in Eighteenth Century Studies, Romantic and Sentimental Literature, Nineteenth Century Literature, and Cultures of Empire.
In 2013-14 I will be Director of the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, and convenor of the interdisciplinary MA in Eighteenth Century Studies.
My first book was on Gothic fiction, and I continue to be interested in the meanings of the Gothic in the late eighteenth century, in particular in the period during and after Britain’s war with its American colonies. I hope to return to this area sometime fairly soon for a project on the practice and representation of ‘Gothic tourism’ in Britain, inspired by seeing historical graffiti tags on the walls of Netley Abbey near Southampton. I’m interested in the potentially interactive and sociable or communal dimensions of domestic Gothic tourism, and the ways in which it can’t simply be reduced to the activities of solitary walkers and seekers after the picturesque.
I am currently in the process of completing a project provisionally titled British Orientalisms, 1759-1835, which examines representations of ‘the East’ in novels, poems, plays, and non-fictional prose published in Britain between the ‘year of victories’ at the height of the Seven Years’ War and Macaulay’s ‘Minute on Indian Education’. This project has a literary-historical rationale, in that it is concerned to map and reconfigure a richly diverse field of cultural production, and it seeks to use literary history as a lens on the larger question of how Britons tried to negotiate the contradiction between their rapidly expanding territorial empire and their enduring sense of themselves as a liberty-loving people. With reference to recent critical attempts to identify examples of ‘good’ Orientalism that might offer cultural resources for the twenty-first century, I’m especially interested in historicizing the terms on which writers and readers in this period may have conceived of an ‘openness’ to Eastern others.
I’ve supervised PhD dissertations on the ‘male Gothic’ from Walpole to Byron, the figure of the imaginary Oriental traveller in the long eighteenth century, the representation of ‘Improvement’ in Romantic-period fictions of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and ‘women’s Gothic’ fiction from Reeve and Lee to Hays to Wollstonecraft. I’m currently supervising dissertations on Salman Rushdie and the eighteenth century and nineteenth-century vampire narratives.
I’d welcome enquiries from any prospective students, but particularly from those interested in Orientalism and empire or the Gothic.
Tel: internal 4978, external 01904 324978
Department: English and Related Literature