Personal profile

Educational background

I have worked at Royal Holloway since 1995; before that I taught at the University of Sheffield for six years, at University College Cork, and at University College London, where I did my graduate work.  My BA and MA were at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. I worked as a diplomat for a few years before starting a PhD, and in my teens I was a licenced free-diver for paua.








Research interests

My main research areas are Modernism, American literature, literature and technology, the body (including such areas as sexology, bodily reform, cinema, and sound); and the poetry of Thomas Hardy. For earlier books including Modernism, Technology and the Body, Haunted Hardy, and Modernism: A Cultural History, see the panel above.  My most recent book was on slavery as cultural metaphor, The Logic of Slavery: Debt, Technology and Pain in American Literature, for CUP (early sample here|). It was awarded the 2013 C. Hugh Holman Prize of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature for the best book of literary scholarship or criticism in the field of Southern literature in its year;and was a Choice outstanding academic title the same year.

Recent articles have covered modernism and mathematics, modernism and time; modernism and music; modernism and biology; and slavery in in American literature 1900-45.

My study of modernist localism after 1926, Micromodernism, forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press in 2024, aims to both question and rethink the retrospective construction of modernism and its canon and to study versions of the 'new' that are little-recognised. 

I am co-editor of the Edinburgh University Press series Edinburgh Critical Studies in Modernist Culture, and one of the organizers of the London Modernism Seminar, now well into its third decade.  I was chair of the British Association for Modernist Studies (BAMS) in 2019.

Full list of publications here.   Some of my work can be read on my page.


I welcome applications from prospective PhD students in all areas of twentieth-century literature, especially modernism and American Literature. I have supervised 27 research degrees to completion, and usually have around 3-4 supervisees (I've also examined around 70 PhDs at 25 different institutions).  Recent areas of supervision include lesbian modernism, modernism and fashion, modernism and visual culture, African-American literature, post-9/11 fiction, Kathy Acker, Virginia Woolf, Hart Crane, and Gertrude Stein.



I teach Modernism on the MA English Literature and courses including Introducing America, The American Century, Dark Reform (on American satire and the reform mode), Odysseus' Scar: Time in Modern Literature, and African American Literature|


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 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


  • Modernism
  • Modernism and technology
  • technology and literature
  • Film and Literature
  • American Literature
  • Slavery and Culture
  • Slavery and Literature
  • Slavery and Sculpture
  • Literature and the Body
  • The body
  • Sexuality and Literature
  • Modernism and Media
  • Literature and Media
  • Automatic Writing
  • Fletcherism
  • Body culture
  • Goat Glanding
  • Thomas Hardy's poetry
  • Hardy and Poetry
  • Hardy and history
  • Weather and culture
  • Trauma and Slavery
  • Tim Armstrong
  • Literature and Electricity
  • Mina Loy
  • Literature and maths
  • Literature and Mathematics
  • Literature and Sound
  • Sound recording
  • slavery and sound
  • American modernism
  • African American Literature