My research is principally in the eighteenth and the twentieth-twenty-first centuries. All my research is informed by feminist and poststructuralist theory (in particular the work of Jacques Derrida). My abiding concern has been the question of inequality understood in the broadest sense, and how sexual, class or cultural differences are represented and theorized, including the question of the ways in which inequalities are mitigated or enhanced by social, political and economic systems. I am also interested in textual economies, and the question of reading. After a period working on the question of hospitality between individuals, and between the collectivity and the individual (with books on Derrida and Hospitality and Enlightenment Hospitality), I produced a monograph on theories and representations of the animal-human borderline in the Enlightenment and the contemporary period (Derrida and Other Animals). I am currently co-editing a special issue on Disorderly Eating in Contemporary Women's Writing for the Journal of Romance Studies (June 2020).
My earliest publications (as well as more recent ones) addressed the question of economic, political and sexual inequalities in the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau through analysis of the codes of beneficence (derived from Seneca, Cicero and Aristotle) and pudicity (pudeur). I then turned to the theorisation and representation of gift economies more generally (including those in Plato, More, Montaigne and Bataille). Other eighteenth-century authors who have interested me include Denis Diderot, Stephanie de Genlis and Sarah Scott. I have published on intertextuality, and other aspects of critical theory where text is understood in the broadest possible sense, and the focus is on force as much as form. I have also done research into the construction of masculinity in the second half of the twentieth century; this work includes analysis of writing by Andre Gide, Roland Barthes, Margaret Attwood, photography, Hollywood film, and British soap-opera, as well as analysis of socio-economic questions such as the changing world of work.Thanks to a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2004-7), I completed monographs on Derrida and Hospitality (Edinburgh University Press, 2010), and Aspects of Enlightenment Hospitality: Cannibals, Harems and Adoption (The Voltaire Foundation, 2011) - which included chapters on travel to Persia (Chardin) and Turkey (Montagu) as well as the New World.
I shall be working on the Franco-American Enlightenment thinker Crèvecoeur, with particular reference to slavery, indigenous peoples and the relationship (or divide) between the human and the animal.