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, ranging from the (allegedly) Angry Young Men, to the more 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 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, was published 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 book 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. It also formed the basis for a module – our first-year ‘Literature in Context’, which explores the relationship between literature and history.
My next research project is in the planning stages, but will explore conceptions of realism in 1950s literature and visual art.
- Literature of the 1950s: Good, Brave Causes, Volume 6, Edinburgh History of Twentieth-Century Literature in Britain, Edinburgh University Press, 2012.
- Teaching Gender, ed. with Fiona Tolan, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
- Masculinity in Male-Authored Fiction 1950-2000, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
- ‘“The Battle for Realism”: British Literature and Visual Art in the 1950s’, in Postwar: Literature in Transition 1940-60, Gill Plain, currently under consideration at Cambridge University Press.
- ‘Excursions into the “Baroque”: Hoggart, Angel and the Uses of Romance’, in eds Mary Eagleton and Micahel Bailey, Richard Hoggart: Culture and Critique, Critical, Cultural and Communications Press, 2010, 95-107.
- ‘Welsh and Tradition’, in ed. Berthold Schoene, The Edinburgh Companion to Irvine Welsh, Edinburgh University Press, 2010.
- ‘High Visibility: Teaching Ladlit’, in ed. Ben Knights, Masculinities in Text and Teaching, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
- ‘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, 275-282.
- ‘John Berger’s G’, in ed. Merritt Moseley, Booker Prize Novels, 1969-2005 (Dictionary of Literary Biography, 2005), 30-9.
- ‘Already Seen? Look Back in Anger, Déjavù and Postmodern Historiography’, in Yearbook of English Studies 42, May 2012, 97-112.
- ‘Introduction’ (to 1950s and 1960s Special Edition, with Tracy Hargreaves), Yearbook of English Studies 42, May 2012, 1-12.
- ‘Elizabeth Taylor’s Uses of Romance: Feminist Feeling in 1950s English Fiction’, Literature and History 1 (19), 2010, 50-64.
- ‘Introduction’ (to 1950s Special Edition), Literature & History 19:1 (2012), 1-3.
- ‘The Gaze of the Magus: Sexual/Scopic Politics in the Novels of John Fowles’, in JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory 34:2 (Summer 2004), 207-225.
- ‘Dreamerica: Visions of Transatlantic Masculinity in the Sixties English Novel’, in Symbiosis2, October 2003, 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
Introductions to Novels
- Mr Nicholas by Thomas Hinde, Valancourt, 2016.
- Jubb by Keith Waterhouse, Valancourt, 2015.
- Billy Liar on the Moon by Keith Waterhouse, Valancourt, 2015.
- Shoot the Father Dead by John Wain, Valancourt, 2014.
- Radcliffe by David Storey, Valancourt, 2013, v-viii.
- The Smaller Sky by John Wain, Valancourt, 2013, v-ix.
Lectures and Conference Papers
- ‘Ethical Aesthetics: John Berger and the Problem of 1950s Realism’, at Thinking with John Berger, Cardiff Metropolitan University, 4th-5th September 2014.
- ‘Issues and Strategies for Mid-Career Academics’, invited speaker by Contemporary Women’s Writing Association, Northumbria University, 7th April 2014.
- ‘Colin MacInnes’s Adventures in Teenage Anthropology, at Teenage Kicks: Representations of Youth Subcultures, Keele University, 11th– 13th July 2013.
- ‘Something unreal, something to go on paper: Elizabeth Taylor’s Realism’, invited speaker at Elizabeth Taylor: A Centenary Conference, Anglia Ruskin University, 7th July 2012.
- ‘Excursions into the Baroque: Hoggart, Angel and the Uses of Romance’, at Richard Hoggart: Culture and Critique, Leeds Metropolitan University, June 2009.
- ‘Digital Orientalism: Japan and Electronic Literature’, at Electronic Literature, Bergen University, 11th-13th September 2008.
- ‘The Nature of the Offence: Martin Amis’s Time’s Arrow’: lecture at SUISS, 13th August 2007.
- ‘Contemporary British Literature and the Curriculum’: seminar at the British Council, London, with video links to universities in Tunis, Karachi and Cairo, March 2007.
- ‘Early Career Reflections’: seminar at the English Subject Centre’s New Lecturers’ Conference at University of Birmingham, 2nd December 2006.
- ‘The Gaze of the Magus: Sexual/Scopic Politics in the Novels of John Fowles’: seminar for the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Social Surveillance at Liverpool John Moores University, 10th March 2004.
- ‘A Cracking Yarn: Masculine Contradictions in The French Lieutenant’s Woman’: lecture at SUISS, annually 2002-6.
- ‘Contra(con)ception: the Pill, paternity and narrative form in British Sixties novels’, at Father Figures: Gender and Paternity in the Modern Age, at Liverpool John Moores University, 30th June-2nd July 2003.
- ‘The Importance of Being (Like) Jim: Kingsley Amis and the Masculine Text’, at The Importance of Being Arthur: Representations of Masculinity 1954-1963, Roehampton University of Surrey, 13th-14th July 2002.
- ‘Incompetent Consumption: Masculinity and the Politics of Consumption in the Post-War English Novel’, at Rethinking Gender and Power, Queen’s University, Belfast, 30th – 31st August 2001.
- ‘Surrendering the Centre: Male Identity in 1960s English Fiction’, at University of Edinburgh Graduate School Seminar, 1st November 2000.
- ‘The Buck Starts Here: 1945–60 as the origin of the anxieties of the modern Englishman’ at Posting the Male, Liverpool John Moores University, 24th – 26th August 2000.