Professor of Modern English Literature and Drama, Faculty of Arts
MA (Cambridge), PhD (Cambridge)
I am currently a member of the research board of Nottingham University, and I am the lead for one of the university's five 'Global Research Themes', that of 'Cultures and Communication'. I am also… read more
My research is primarily concerned with modern anglophone literature, and I have a particular interest in the theatre of twentieth-century Ireland and Britain.
I am currently editing a book of George Bernard Shaw's shorter plays for publication by Oxford University Press in 2021. I am also being funded by the AHRC's 'Centre for Hidden Histories' to do some interdisciplinary research (with the art historian Fintan Cullen) into the memorialising of the British military figures who fought in the Easter Rising of 1916. And I am completing a monograph about the way that high-modernist writers engaged with the practical world of theatre-making during the early years of the twentieth century.
I have had the pleasure of supervising the work of a number of excellent PhD students and would welcome applications from those whose interests broadly intersect with my own. My former research students include Sam Haddow (lecturer in modern and contemporary drama, University of St Andrews), Soudabeh Ananisarab (lecturer in drama, Birmingham City University), and Joseph Anderton (teaching fellow in English literature, University of Leicester).
I am currently a member of the research board of Nottingham University, and I am the lead for one of the university's five 'Global Research Themes', that of 'Cultures and Communication'. I am also Public Engagement lead for the Faculty of Arts; I chair the university's City of Literature steering group; I am Senior Tutor in the School of English; and I am lucky enough to teach on a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules. In previous years, I have also acted as deputy-head of school, head of the drama section, and head of drama and creative writing.
I am a recipient of the British Academy mid-career fellowship, an award that is given 'to support outstanding individual researchers with excellent research proposals', and I have also been awarded the Philip Leverhulme prize. In addition, I have been a visiting fellow at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and have acted as external programme reviewer for Performing Arts at Edge Hill University and at Sligo IT. I am currently a member of the AHRC peer-review college, am an external examiner at NUI Galway until 2022, and am a member of the collaborative board of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.
Outside the academy, I enjoy giving lectures and seminars for a range of different organisations, including the Royal National Theatre, where I've delivered sessions with figures including the actor Anne-Marie Duff, playwright Enda Walsh, theatre director Wayne Jordan, and screenwriter William Ivory.
I am also regularly involved with the broadcast media: I've appeared, for example, on episodes of BBC TV's Who Do You Think You Are? with Minnie Driver and with Ian McKellen, and my most longstanding broadcasting commitment is the monthly book-review feature on BBC Radio Nottingham that I've been delivering since 2010.
One of the main strands of my research has been an exploration of how revolutionary politics and dramatic literature interact. My first book, Staging the Easter Rising (2005), charts the ways in which Irish insurrectionism (and the legacies of insurrectionism) might be affected by the public playhouse. I have also edited a volume of plays by political radicals such as Thomas MacDonagh and James Connolly (Four Irish Rebel Plays, 2007); and in 2013 I published a book called The Theatre of Seán O'Casey.
A second aspect of my work has revolved around the evolving literary cultures of the English midlands. My book The Theatre of D.H. Lawrence (2015) focuses upon issues of regionalism and class, and my earlier book Irish Birmingham: A History (2010) traces a long cultural history of one of the major cities in the area from the perspective of one of the largest minority groups. I was flattered that part of the latter book was fictionalised by the Costa-prize-winning writer Catherine O'Flynn in her fine novel Mr Lynch's Holiday (2013).
My interest in locations such as Birmingham, Nottingham and Dublin also led me to theorise notions of literary modernism from an archipelagic perspective, and I developed some of these concerns in a co-edited volume that I put together with Neal Alexander entitled Regional Modernisms (2013).