My research focuses on the literature of the English Renaissance, and in particular on the drama of Christopher Marlowe. I have recently published a monograph which discusses the idea of unity in Marlowe’s plays, and in which I discuss Marlowe’s engagement with pseudo-scientific philosophical thought of the kind espoused by the Elizabethan magus and mathematician, John Dee. I am currently beginning a project on the island environment in the Renaissance literary imagination. I am particularly interested in the ways in which the isolation of the island space allowed early modern writers to explore ideas of utopia and to interrogate notions of collective identity.
My research focuses on environmental history, and specifically on climatic history and historical climatology, on human responses to unusual or extreme weather events, conceptualisations of climate variability in historical perspective and the links between climate and the healthiness of place. Much of my work has been concerned with colonial Mexico and nineteenth century Africa though for the past few years I have been working on various projects that focus on British climate history. I am curious to explore reasons behind the apparent British 'obsession' with the weather. As part of AHRC-funded research projects, I have co-curated exhibitions and also worked with poet and playwright Matt Black on the production of a play, The Storm Officer, which was inspired by some of my work on historical extreme and unusual weather in the UK.
My research is on the history of science and gender, predominantly in the nineteenth century, with a focus on women, learned societies and networks, and representation. I have worked with the Royal Society on the AHRC-funded Women in Science Research Network, and have contributed talks/podcasts as part of the Society’s programme of public lectures. My book Femininity, Mathematics and Science (Palgrave) won the 2010 Women’s History Network book prize.
Funded in part by a fellowship from The Leverhulme Trust, my current book project is a cultural history of solar energy, to be published by Bloomsbury Academic. Whilst my work in energy humanities is transhistorical, eighteenth-century literature and science continues to be an area of focus. I am particularly interested in the role of satire in British cultures of natural knowledge, with my publications on this topic including Swift and Science (2012) and contributions to two Oxford Handbooks. I am co-editing (with Professor Paul Baines) the early prose of Alexander Pope for the forthcoming OUP Works, and also working on a biography of Dr John Arbuthnot, the eighteenth-century satirist, mathematician, and physician. As well as co-directing the Literature & Science Hub, I am on the steering committee for the Eighteenth-Century Worlds research centre. I would welcome enquiries regarding doctoral study of: literature, science and technology; energy humanities; the long eighteenth century; the early history of science fiction.
My current project, Mermaids of the British Isles c. 450 to 1500, is funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. I'm interested in the different ways in which medieval and renaissance writers and artists used mermaids and their watery habitats to navigate topics such as war, religion, identity (personal and communal), and gender. I also have an ongoing interest in the literature of the Wars of the Roses, particularly how writers in this unstable period captured and responded to socio-political changes, how they communicated England's shifting geographic dominion over foreign territories, and how they constructed local and national identities through the people and places they wrote about. Examples of my work in this area include the corpus of research I've produced on John Hardyng’s Chronicle, a late fifteenth-century history of Britain written on the cusp of civil war, which contains the earliest independent map of Scotland and a geographical survey of the terrain, and my recent edition of a medieval chronicle connected with Chester.
As director of The Liverpool Players, I have produced a number of public events focused on human responses to natural and supernatural landscapes in early literature and drama, including Being Human: A Festival of the Humanities (2015 and 2016) and The British Academy Literature Week (2017). I enjoy writing for the media and making regular contributions to television and radio programmes (national and international). Personal highlights related to the Literature and Science Hub include my contribution on iron gall ink in BBC 4’s Oak Tree (2015), which won Royal Television Society Award for Best Science and Natural History Programme, a BBC Radio 3 Freethinking debate on man and animals (2016), features on mermaids for Radio New Zealand (2017) and ABC Radio National, Australia (2018), and a special issue on mermaids for The Big Issue (2019).
I am a Lecturer in English Literature with an interest in the symbiotic relationship between literature and psychology. I am predominantly a Victorianist and have published on George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Anthony Trollope. My work on Eliot concentrated on the link between nineteenth-century developments in the understanding of psychology and neurophysiology and her distinctive realist style. I am also fascinated by literary representations of psychopathy. In my most recent research, I have shifted my focus in terms of period and media to examine the complex interplay of psychology, criminology, and popular culture in shaping the image of the psychopath in Bryan Fuller’s television adaptation of the Hannibal Lecter novels.
I am the William Noble Post-Doctoral Research Associate in English. My research interests are in poetry, nature writing, natural history and ornithology of the Romantic period (as well as more widely). My first book, Charlotte Smith and the Sonnet: Form, Place and Tradition in the Late Eighteenth Century, is forthcoming with Liverpool University Press. My postdoctoral project is on nightingales in literature, science and the environment from John Ray to John Clare. I am currently researching and writing Nightingale for the Reaktion press Animal series. I have spoken on radio 4 about my work on nightingales and will appear in the conservation documentary Last Song of the Nightingale out next year.
I am librarian of the Science Fiction Foundation Collection, administered by Special Collections and Archives, University of Liverpool, and Reviews Editor of Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction. I have published numerous essays on aspects of science fiction and fantasy, including work on Ramsey Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Ursula K. Le Guin and Olaf Stapledon. I co-edited (with David Seed) Speaking Science Fiction (2000), and, most recently (with David Ketterer) Plan for Chaos, a previously-unpublished novel by John Wyndham (Liverpool University Press 2009; Penguin, 2010) and (with Peter Wright) Teaching Science Fiction (2011). I was Guest Curator of the British Library Exhibition “Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not as You Know It” (2011). In 2008 I received the Science Fiction Research Association’s Clareson Award for services to science fiction. I am currently researching the science fiction of the 1950s and the relationship between the science fiction of Mary Shelley and Jane Webb Loudon.
I am the William Noble Research Fellow in the department of English and co-director of the Literature and Science Hub. My first monograph, Poetry and the Anthropocene, explores questions of ecology, biology and technology in contemporary British and Irish poetry, and will be published by Routledge in summer 2016. My published or forthcoming work includes essays on irony and climate change; deconstruction, JH Prynne and science; site-specific performance and ecology; the short story and the environment; and Ted Hughes and Technology. I have also written about literature, science and environment for the Times Literary Supplement and the Independent. I am currently working on a new project that explores representations of climate change across literature, performance and visual culture.
My most recent book is Weatherland (2015), which explores the changing relationships between art and atmosphere in England from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present. I have ongoing interests in calendars, almanacs, and (particularly) representations of the months and seasons. Much of my work has been on sense of place in British art, literature and culture. I have published on a number of English landscape painters, garden writing, and local history, and am always keen to think about the “environment” of particular places.
I am an Associate Professor at University of Wisconsin specializing in environmental modernism, ecocriticsm, and 21st century climate literature; my collaborative partnership with the Literature and Science Hub began with a Fulbright Scholar Grant to University of Liverpool in spring 2019. In my first book, Ecocriticism in the Modernist Imagination: Forster, Woolf, and Auden (Cambridge UP, 2016) I show how the signal techniques of modernism depict environments flush with non-human agency and subjectivity. The book acknowledges the longer pastoral tradition in literature, but also reflects my interest in ecocritical philosophies of embodiment and matter, queer ecocriticism, and animal studies.
Currently, I am working on a project tentatively titled Green Thinking (and yes, that uneasy relationship between imagination and action is one of the big questions that motivates my inquiry!). Specifically, I am analyzing mid-century literature related to issues such as landscape conservation and pesticide use in order to trace how those representational strategies evolve into literary depictions of larger systems change and collective agency in contemporary climate literature. I am always interested in environmental pedagogy and public outreach too, which you can read more about in 'How Can Scholarly Work be Meaningful in an Era of Lost Causes?' (Green Letters, February 2019).