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Summary: Modernist, mid-century and contemporary C20th and C21st literature.
My earliest research focused on Virginia Woolf (the subject of my PhD) and on representations of androgyny, which resulted in my first book, Androgyny in Modern Literature (Palgrave, 2005). This explored representations of androgyny as a cultural, political and sexual ideal and as a fantasised embodiment from the fin de siècle and through the C20th, engaging with European decadence, British sexology, Modernism, French Feminism, post-modern fiction and the neo-Victorian novel. After completing my book, I began work on representations of the family in fiction which took me, via John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga and the Queen's Coronation, to my current research interests on literature, film, television and adaptation between 1945-1968.
My current interests, both research and teaching, are in the mid-twentieth century, in literature, theatre, film and television. I am currently researching and writing a monograph, provisionally titled Intimacy and the English Cultural Imagination: 1945-1968. Situated in the context of a number of legislative changes and the gradual relaxation of censorship in the 1950s-1960s, the book examines the mediation of and fascination with the everyday, the ordinary and with intimate life in the post-war period. I am looking at the various inter-relationships of Englishness, regional communities, sexuality, marriage and infidelity in literature, theatre, film and television and by thinking through Richard Hoggart's observation that literature is a distinct form of social knowledge, in combining textual criticism with cultural studies, film and television studies, and with social history. I'm interested in examining the difficulties of engaging with intimacy, often compromised by the very fact of its 'mechanical' mediation in film or its regulation by institutions like the British Board of Film Censors, or the power of the Lord Chamberlain - and I am interested in its hesitant testing out by the BBC and by the audience's response to that, and to their changing comprehension of intimacy across the 1950s and 1960s. I'm also interested in looking at the individual writer's commitment to intimacy as a means of thinking about post-war political and cultural engagement in the novel form, something I've explored in a recent article on Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook and the 'experimental' fiction of B.S. Johnson.
The book arises from my current teaching interests in mid-century English literature and film and these, in turn, are productively re-informing my research. I've recently published essays on contemporary literary representations of the Queen's Coronation, on neo-Victorianism and television in the 1960s, on Richard Hoggart, John Braine's Room at the Top and British New Wave Cinema. I'm currently co-editing (with Alice Ferrebe) a special edition of the Yearbook of English Studies, again with a focus on writing in the 1950s and 1960s. Following recent work in the BBC's Written Archive Centre (funded by the British Academy) I am also writing on the audience's responses to BBC programming between 1950-1968. In both teaching and research, I'm interested in re-establishing detailed connections across cultural studies, social history, audience response, literature, film and television from the 1950s to the 1960s especially, though not exclusively, as that relates to women and to working class cultures.
I teach both Modern and Contemporary Literature, including optional modules on mid-century literature and film at both BA and MA levels. I have recently supervised PhDs on contemporary British, Canadian and Caribbean women's writing and narratology and on contemporary British women's writing and the grotesque and am currently supervising PhDs on C20th literary biofictions and on the single woman in modern literature. I have an on-going (probably abiding) interest in Virginia Woolf and I particularly welcome research proposals on any aspect of mid-twentieth century (1945-1968) literature, film and television and on adaptations from text to screen.
I was recently awarded British Academy funding for a month-long visit to the BBC's Written Archives Centre, researching their Audience Research Reports between 1950-1968.
In June 2010 I was interviewed by the BBC for their 'Timeshift' Series: '1960: The Year of the North' (Screened Sept 2010, BBC4)
'Caught Between Two Worlds: Richard Hoggart, The Angry Young Man and the British New Wave' Richard Hoggart: Culture and Critique Conference Leeds Metropolitan University June 2009
'The Meaning of Commitment: Doris Lessing and The Golden Notebook'. B.S. Johnson His Contemporaries and the British Literary-Cultural Scene 1949-1979 British Library October 2009
The Forsyte Saga: The Family and Television Culture in the 1960s' Film, Television and the 1960s Conference Plymouth State University, New Hampshire, October 2007.
''The Queen's Two Bodies': the post-war family saga' February 2008 invited paper University of Leicester
I have acted as a reader for Palgrave, Sage, Longmans, Literature Compass and Continuum. I was invited to act as a peer reviewer for the Austrian Science Fund.
I continue to act as External Examiner for undergraduate programmes at the University of Kingston and the University of Birmingham
Angry Young Men and Women: Literature of the Mid-Twentieth Century
British New Wave Cinema
Culture and Anarchy 1945-1968
Modern to Contemporary