Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature and Thought
Expertise: Community engagement through creative practice/research; urban/rural relations; sustainability and history of transport; nineteenth-century natural history.
My research focuses on the social and cultural effects of industrialisation in the nineteenth century. I also work with arts organisations, museums, and community groups using literature to explore sense of place in smaller towns and communities undergoing major challenges now. My last book – Writing the Stagecoach Nation (2016) – explored the ways in which writers helped nineteenth-century readers come to terms with the new infrastructure of the railways in Britain by looking back to the capillary networks of the horse-drawn stage coach system.
My current research focuses on the idea of ‘provincialism’ and fictions of the provincial town c. 1820-1930 and the cultural legacy of this thinking. I have also written about nineteenth-century practices and knowledges drawn from natural history and philosophy as an anticipation of present eco-critical thinking. I am a passionate advocate of the value of interdisciplinary research and creative practice in addressing the challenges of the present.