My primary field of research is Romantic and Gothic writing of the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth centuries (1760-1830). Within this historical period, I am particularly interested in the Gothic aesthetic (romances; drama; poetry; chapbooks; painting); Romantic poetry; the manifold interactions between literature and architectural form; the relationship between the Gothic and the Romantic; constructions of childhood and children’s literature of the period; and appropriations of Shakespeare in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. I have subsidiary research interests in critical theory, especially in the various manifestations of poststructuralist thought articulated by such modern and contemporary European thinkers as Michel Foucault; Jacques Lacan; Slavoj Žižek; Julia Kristeva; Jacques Derrida; and Giorgio Agamben. Indeed, as located within Romantic-era writing as it is, my research has invariably sought to forge connections between theoretical and historicist modes of enquiry, be that through the fostering of complex textual and literary-critical dialogues, or through bringing theoretical modes of reasoning to bear upon a range of literary-historical concerns. Methodologically wedded to the skills of close textual analysis, my critical mode seeks to breach the perceived divide between theoretical and historicist methodologies.
I have published widely within the field of Gothic studies, including the monograph The Orders of Gothic: Foucault, Lacan, and the Subject of Gothic Writing, 1764-1820 (AMS, 2007); Gothic Shakespeares (with John Drakakis; Routeldge, 2008); Macbeth: A Critical Reader (with John Drakakis; Bloomsbury, 2014); The Gothic World (with Glennis Byron; Routledge, 2014); Ann Radcliffe, Romanticism and the Gothic (with Angela Wright; Cambridge University Press, 2014); and Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination (British Library, 2014). The latter arises out of my involvement, as academic advisor, on the major exhibition of that name at the British Library (October 2014-January 2015). Forthcoming publications include Romantic Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion (with Angela Wright; EUP, forthcoming 2015) and Writing Britain's Ruins, 1700--1850 (with Michael Carter and Peter Lindfield; contracted to British Library Publishing, forthcoming 2017).
My current monograph project, Gothic Antiquity: History, Romance and the Architectural Imagination, 1740–1840, seeks to provide a sustained critical account of the complex but hitherto relatively unexplored relationship between ‘words’ and ‘stones’, texts and architectural structures in British Romantic-era writing. With a particular interest in the varying constructions of the British nation’s Gothic past at the turn of the nineteenth century, this study seeks to read a number of key Romantic authors, both canonical and otherwise, in relation to such contemporary discourses as the political ‘myth’ of Gothic origins; formal historiography and its vexed relations to romance; stylistic tracts on Gothic architecture; and Antiquarian attitudes to the tangible physical remains of British history as manifested in so many ruined Gothic architectural structures. To date, several sections of this project have been published, including an article on the political implications to acts of Gothic architectural ‘improvement’ and ‘repair’ in the work of T. J. Horsley Curties; Jane Austen; Ann Radcliffe; Charlotte Smith; Hannah More; James Wyatt; John Carter; Edmund Burke; Mary Wollstonecraft; John Thelwall; Jeremy Bentham; and William Blackstone; two articles on the interplay between romance, history, Royalist politics and Gothic-fictional convention in the early work of T. J. Horsley Curties; an article on literature and the rise of 'Gothic tourism' in and around Netley Abbey in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and a book chapter on the relationship between Gothic architecture and the literary Gothic aesthetic in the journalism of the Romantic Antiquarian, John Carter. The monograph also includes sections on, inter alia, Byron, Gothic Architecture and Newstead Abbey; Wordsworth, Coleridge and the architectural Romantic imagination; Jane Austen’s architectural forms; British responses to, and representations of, the fall of the Bastille; the relationship between literature and 'actual' architectural space at several sites across Britain, including Netley Abbey, Southampton, and Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire; the 'Battle of the Styles' in the 1830s; the archiectural romances of William Harrison Ainsworth; and the Protestant biases to the aesthetic of the architectural Picturesque in the work of William Gilpin and Richard Warner.
I would be interested in supervising PhD research on any aspect of Gothic writing of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.