My earliest research focused upon the representation of gender in British literature and culture, and resulted in my first book, Masculinity in Male-Authored Fiction 1950-2000. This looked at the influence of conceptions of masculinity on fictional form and theme through a period of intense political and stylistic negotiation by male authors with the gendered subject-positions both of fictional characters and those who read about them, ranging from the (allegedly) Angry Young Men, to the contemporary confessional literature of Nick Hornby. This research and writing in the field of literary gender studies continues, and I’m also really interested in the performances of gender that are at work in the English classroom – I’ve recently co-edited a collection of essays that explore this dynamic with my LJMU colleague Fiona Tolan.
I’ve become increasingly fascinated with the literature and culture of mid-century Britain, and my book Good, Brave Causes, which covers the decade 1950-1960, will be published early in 2012 as part of the Edinburgh History of Twentieth-Century Literature in Britain series. The 1950s has acquired almost as many mythic associations as its glamorous, swinging successor, and the decade’s presiding political consensus and increasing affluence are routinely understood as resulting in apathy and smugness. My study rereads the decade and its literature as crucial in twentieth-century British history for its emergent and increasingly complicated politics of difference, as ideas about identity, genealogy and belonging were tested and contested. My next research project is in the planning stages, but will explore the work of the neglected 50s and 60s novelist Elizabeth Taylor.
The Edinburgh History of Twentieth-Century Literature in Britain Volume 6, 1950–1960: Good, Brave Causes, (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming 2012)
With Fiona Tolan, eds, Teaching Gender (Palgrave Macmillan , forthcoming 2011 as part of the Teaching the New English series)
Masculinity in Male-Authored Fiction 1950-2000 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
‘”Excursions into the ‘Baroque’: Hoggart, Angel and the Uses of Romance’, in ed. Michael Bailey, Richard Hoggart: Culture and Critique (Critical, Cultural and Communications Press, 2011)
‘Welsh and Tradition’, in ed. Berthold Schoene, The Edinburgh Companion to Irvine Welsh (Edinburgh University Press, 2010)
‘Between Camps: Masculinity, Race and Nation in Post-Devolution Scotland’ in ed. Berthold Schoene, The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Scottish Literature (Edinburgh University Press, 2007), pp. 275-282.
‘High Visibility: Teaching Ladlit’, in ed. Ben Knights, Masculinities in Text and Teaching (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
‘John Berger’s G’, in ed. Merritt Moseley, Booker Prize Novels, 1969-2005 (Dictionary of Literary Biography, 2005), pp. 30-9.
I have recently guest-edited two special journal editions on British literature of the 1950s and 1960s: Literature and History 19/1 (with Jane Mansfield), and Yearbook of English Studies (with Tracy Hargreaves).
‘Already Seen?: Look Back in Anger and Postmodern Historiography’, Yearbook of English Studies, forthcoming 2012.
‘Elizabeth Taylor’s Uses of Romance: Feminist Feeling in 1950s English Fiction’, Literature and History, 19/1 (Spring 2010)., pp. 50-64.
‘The Gaze of the Magus: Sexual/Scopic Politics in the Novels of John Fowles’, in JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory 34:2 (Summer 2004), pp. 207-225.
‘Dreamerica: Visions of Transatlantic Masculinity in the Sixties English Novel’, in Symbiosis 7.2, October 2003, pp. 201-220.
‘Re-visiting or Revisionist? A comparative reading of gender relationships in selected First World War novels’ in Postgraduate English, No. 3 (March 2001), http://www.dur.ac.uk/postgraduate.english/ferr.htm#top