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Personal profile


I am a cultural historian and literary critic specialising in twentieth-century literature and cultural studies, often with an eye to political questions and debates. I grew up in London and studied literature at UCL before doing a PhD in Humanities and Cultural Studies at the London Consortium (Birkbeck College). I spent a number of years teaching in a variety of insitutions including UCL, Birkbeck, the Open University, Goldsmiths College, Central St Martins and Camberwell College of Arts, before taking up a Leverhulme Eary Career Fellowship at Queen Mary, University of London in 2010. I was appointed to UEA as a Lecturer in Literature in 2012. I have a particular interest in supporting postgraduate researchers and to this end I have held a number of leadership positions in the university: Director of Postgraduate Research in my school, UEA Academic Lead for the AHRC-funded CHASE DTP, and most recently Associate Dean for Postgraduate Research for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Key Research Interests

I have broad interests in the literature, politics, art, and culture of the twentieth century.

My current project investigates the phenomenon of collective speech--speaking in unison--in a broad historical perspective. It situates modern literature's fascination with collective speech in relation to notions of the chorus that go back to Ancient Greece, as well as the liturgical practices of the Christian church, and anthropological ideas about chanting that associated it with (racialised) primitive cultures. I have published a number of articles around this topic (see publications below) and I have been awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship to pursue the project.

I am also currently collaborating on two edited volumes. I am co-editing, with my UEA colleague Rachel Potter, The British Novel of Ideas: George Eliot to Zadie Smith to be published in 2023 by Cambridge UP. With Benjamin Kohlmann (University of Regensburg) I am co-editing The People: Belonging, Exclusion and Democracy in the Cambridge Themes in British Literature and Culture series. 

My previous books are Red Britain: The Russian Revolution in Mid-Century Culture (OUP, 2019), A History of 1930s British Literature (co-edited with Benjamin Kohlmann, CUP, 2019) and Fictions of the City: Class, Culture and Mass Housing in Paris and London (Palgrave, 2009). 

I would be very interested to hear from potential doctoral students with interests in these areas.

Teaching Interests

I have taught, convened and designed modules in a variety of areas across the school. For many years I have co-taught (with my colleague the social historian Ben Jones) 'The Writing of History', an interdisciplinary, second-year module designed with students on the BA in Literature and History in mind, but open to students from both schools. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, London Consortium

Award Date: 1 Jan 2008

Master of Arts, University College London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2004

Bachelor of Arts, University College London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2003


  • Literary Criticism
  • English literature
  • Literary History