BA PhD (Birmingham) My main areas of expertise are: Victorian studies, the literary and cultural historiography of the long nineteenth century; Oscar Wilde, theories of the avant-garde; text-editing and text-theory; critical theory; and the history of English as a discipline of knowledge.
Outreach and Public Engagement: in relation to my editorial work on Oscar Wide's society comedies, I have given a pre-performance talk at a Nottingham Playhouse staging of The Importance of Being Earnest, and have also been interviewed about Wilde's plays for the Culture Strand of France 24. I have also given seminars for the Sutton Trust and set up an on-going partnership between the School of English at Nottingham and the charity, First Story.
I have taught on a wide range of modules from level 1 through to MA, but the main focus of my teaching, at undergraduate and MA level, has been on modules which cover various aspects of… read more
There are five main strands to my research. In the 1990s, and in collaboration with Ian Small, I wrote a number essays addressing the disciplinary status of English Studies, and, more particularly,… read more
Currently I am supervising student working on the following topics:
- Contemporary Malaysian Women's Writing in English
- The Presence in Late Nineteenth-Century British culture of Sylvia Carmen
- The Influence on the Brontes of the works of Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley
- The Influence of Jane Austen in contemporary China
- The Representation of Nervous Disease in mid Nineteenth-Century Fiction
Recent students I have supervised have successfully completed theses on:
- The Reception of Charles Dickens in Early Twentieth-Century China
- Nineteenth-Century Aestheticism and the Social Ethics of Reading
- Mary Elizabeth Braddon as a Professional Writer
- British Aestheticism and Japonaiserie
- Lady Jane Wilde
- Shakespeare in the Nineteenth Century
- The Writing Career of George Gissing
- Dress in Late Nineteenth-Century Fiction
I have taught on a wide range of modules from level 1 through to MA, but the main focus of my teaching, at undergraduate and MA level, has been on modules which cover various aspects of nineteenth-century literary history and which includes a specialist 3rd year module on Oscar Wilde and Henry James as well as a broad survey module on Victorian and Fin de Siecle Literature. I also contribute to MA modules on literary history, text-editing and text-theory. I have a particular interest in the ways in which editorial theory can help us to understand and theorise literary creativity.
There are five main strands to my research. In the 1990s, and in collaboration with Ian Small, I wrote a number essays addressing the disciplinary status of English Studies, and, more particularly, the consequences for the discipline of the introduction of critical theory; this body of research resulted in a jointly-authored monograph: Politics and Value in English Studies (CUP, 1993). I later returned to this topic, contributing a piece on the late 19th-century founding of the discipline to an essay collection on The Organisation of Knowledge in Victorian Britain (CUP, 2005). My second research interest concerns the relationship between nineteenth-century intellectual and literary culture and the literary historiography of the long nineteenth century. I have a particular interest in the ways in which we understand the politics of nineteenth-century literary works, and have published monographs on two overtly political genres and movements: The British Avant-Garde (Harvester, 1991) and The Victorian Social-Problem Novel (Macmillan, 1996). I have also edited a collection of 19th-century source documents which brings together contemporary materials on 19th-century social theory, economics, politics and aesthetics: The Victorian Age: An Anthology of Sources and Documents (Routledge, 1998, 2001). And I have looked at more general aspects of the relationship between 19th-century literature and culture in my co-authored a Concise History of Nineteenth-century Literature (Routledge 2010) which concentrates on the different ways in which literary historians understand the literary history of this period, and an edited collection of research essays,The Edinburgh Companion to Victorian and Fin-de-Siecle Literature and Culture. My third research interest is in the career of Oscar Wilde. I have published (in collaboration with Ian Small) 2 monographs on Wilde. The first of these--Oscar Wilde's Profession (2000)--examines his career as a professional writer, arguing that he was often driven by market forces and that an understanding of this has implications for the way we interpret the politics of his works. The second monograph, which draws on my interest in the disciplinary status of English Studies, examines the discrepancy between popular and academic appropriations of Wilde, focusing in particular on the utility of academic scholarship: Studying Oscar Wilde: History, Criticism, Myth (ELT, 2006). I am currently a member of the international editorial team working on the Oxford English Text's Edition of The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde; in 2007 I published an edition of Wilde's major critical writings and I am currently working on editions of his some of his plays (that on Vera; Or, the Nihilists and Lady Windermere's Fan is currently in press). Fourthly, I have a long-standing interest in the theory and practice of text-editing, and the relationship of both to theories of literary creativity and the way we understand literary value--topics which form the subject-matter of another co-authored monograph: The Textual Condition of Nineteenth-Century Literature (Routledge 2011). My final area of interest relates to the scientific study of literature, and the ways in which empirical research, particularly psycholinguistic methodologies, can be brought to bear on an understanding of literariness. I have co-authored several papers on this topic in collaboration with my colleagues, Kathy Conclin and Rebekah Scott, as well as specialists from other institutions.
I have supervised a wide range of PhD topics, and welcome applications from students interested in: nineteenth-century literary and publishing culture; late nineteenth-century drama; Oscar Wilde; the fin-de-siecle; the history of English as a discipline of knowledge; text-editing and text-theory; literary recovery projects in the nineteenth century; cross-cultural readings of nineteenth-century literary works; as well as the scientific study of literature.
My main research project centers on my involvement on the on-going Oxford English Texts edition of The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, where I am editing some of his plays. With the support of a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship I have just completed an edition of Vera; Or, the Nihilists and Lady Windermere's Fan. My next project, in collaboration with Lucie Sutherland, will be a new edition of A Woman of No Importance and An Ideal Husband. A key task in the re-editing of these plays has been the reconstruction (from archival evidence) of their first performance texts which are generally significantly different from the published texts by which they subsequently became widely known.