I studied at Oxford University for both my BA and my D.Phil. I came to Roehampton as a visiting lecturer in 1990, and returned full time in 1992. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1995 and Professor in 2008. I have also taught at Oxford University, Exeter University and Michigan State University.
I specialise in the literature and cultural history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My particular interests include middlebrow fiction; the literature, culture and history of food; historiography; women's writing; and children's literature.
I am a co-Director of the Research Centre in Modern Literature and Culture.
In 2006 I set up the MA in Literature and Material Culture, on which I teach a module on Literature and Food.
My undergraduate course on The Literature of Food was the first such in the country.
My book Culinary Pleasures won Best Food Book of the Year 2006, awarded by the British Guild of Food Writers. It also won a ‘Special Award by the Jury’ (‘to underline its importance for the cook book world’) in the Gourmand World Cook Book Awards, awarded in Kuala Lumpa in May 2006. It was shortlisted for the Andre Simon Memorial Fund Award 2006, and for the History Today History Book of the Year 2006.
Media experience and public appearances:
I have appeared a number of times on Radio 4's Food Programme, Women's Hour and Open Book, and have been interviewed on many local radio stations. I have been involved as adviser and contributor on three television series: The Great British Bake-Off (2010) BBC2, The Essence of England (2005) Anglia TV and The Trouble with Love (2002) BBC2, and appeared live on Good Food Live on the UK TV Food network.
I welcome approaches from broadcasters on any of my areas of expertise.
I have reviewed and written articles for many newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian, theTimes Higher Educational Supplement, the Times Literary Supplement and Waitrose Food Illustrated.
I have given public talks about aspects of my writing and research at Ealing, Chipping Norton, as part of the 'Writers at Roehampton' series, and at the Oxford and Beverley Literary Festivals.
Research Projects Undertaken
I am currently working on a major project examining domestic crafts in Britain and the literature and culture associated with them from the eighteenth century to the present, provisionally entitled Home Making: The Domestic Arts in Literature and Culture 1750-2010. Crafts explored will include sewing, knitting, cooking, baking, home-decoration, and many more esoteric activities. The book will consider the politics, sociology and imaginative and creative meaning of domestic crafts over two and a half centuries, tracking a journey from aristocratic leisure to internet cult, and considering the subtle shifts in craft culture between the artisanal and the amateur, consumerism and thrift, leisure and work.
I am also working on a number of articles and chapters on aspects of the middlebrow, including middlebrow and camp; the figure of the bachelor in the masculine middlebrow; and the influence of furniture and reading posture on the designation of the middlebrow.
Work in press includes a chapter on the reader in the Cambrige Companion to Popular Fiction.
I have supervised to completion PhDs on the following topics: twentieth-century biography; suburban narratives in twentieth-century English and American fiction; the works of Frances Hodgson Burnett; and teenage fiction from 18th century to present.
I am currently supervising PhD students working on internet slash fan fiction; the figure of the wall in the twentieth-century avant garde; fabric and stitching in the work of Elizabeth Gaskell; and masculine middlebrow reading from Kipling to WWII.
I welcome approaches from potential research students in any area of nineteenth and twentieth century literature, particularly those interested in working in the following areas:
- Food literature, culture and history
- The middlebrow literature and culture of the twentieth century
- Craft culture
- Historical literature, theory and historiography
- The culture and history of reading
- Gender studies including masculinity
- Internet fan fiction and fan cultures
Victorian Literature, Twentieth-Century Literature, Women's Writing, The Literature of Food, Literature and History, Crime Fiction, Dystopian Literature, Children's Literature, Shakespeare, London in Literature.