Research Overview

My work has been primarily in three fields, most often in combination:

  • Aestheticism, Decadence, and the Fin de Siècle: the politics, poetics, and interdisciplinary contexts of ‘art for art’s sake’
  • Poetry and Poetics (Romanticism to the present): challenging and reconstructing narratives of the relationship between poetry and modernity
  • Technology and the Arts: extending the possibilities offered by technology for the production of cultural knowledge


Technology and the Arts

Projects in this field are usually in dialogue with my work in the other two fields:

  • Distracted Reading: Acts of Attention in the Age of the Internet: special issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly, in progress
  • Encoding Diverse Identities: experimenting with the creative use of mark-up languages to help explore the formation of identity across large manuscript corpora. See, for example, ‘Digitizing the Diary: Experiments in Queer Encoding’, Journal of Victorian Culture 2016
  • Director of the Victorian Lives and Letters Consortium

Poetry and Poetics: Lyric and Modernity

I have published extensively on the conceptualization and operation of ‘lyric’ poetry (necessarily understood in its relationship with the visual and sonic arts) in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Exploring work by writers such as Thomas Hardy, A. C. Swinburne, Alice Meynell, D. G. Rossetti and Ezra Pound, my work interrogates narratives of the relationship between poetry and modernity and argues for a new understanding poetry’s response to a crisis in value and relevance within a rapidly modernizing environment. See, for example:

  • The Lyric Poem and Aestheticism: Forms of Modernity (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)
  • The Lyric Poem: Formations and Transformations (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
  • ‘Thomas Hardy’s Poetics of Touch’ (Victorian Poetry 2013)

Aestheticism, Decadence and the Fin de Siècle

Decadence and Distributed Cognition: working with later-nineteenth-century literature and the visual arts to resituate debates around visuality and modernity through engagement with the history of ideas of distributed cognition.

Recovering Forgotten Late-Victorian Writers; changing our understanding of the aesthetic movement, and of our own critical values: my work on late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century literature and culture has included uncovering material by largely forgotten late-Victorian writers (Constance Naden, the poet and philosopher, and May Kendall, among others), to reconsider its importance in augmenting and changing our understanding of the period, of aesthetics, and of our own critical values. The work of ‘Michael Field’ (the aunt and niece Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper) has been a particular focus because of its interrogation of key concepts in late-Victorian literature, culture, and the arts. Using Michael Field’s self-reflexive commentary on ‘aestheticism’ and ‘lyric’, I offer a study with broad relevance to and impact on scholarly understandings of the aesthetic movement and of Victorian poetry. See, for example:

  • Michael Field (1880-1914): Poetry, Aestheticism, and the Fin de Siècle (Cambridge University Press, 2007; issued in paperback in 2010)
  • ‘What Kind of a Critical Category is “Women’s Poetry”?’ (Victorian Poetry, 2003); reprinted in Nineteenth Century Poetry: Criticism and Debates (Routledge, 2016)
  • Poetry of the 1890s (Penguin, 1998)