I am Keble Fellow in English and University Lecturer.
I completed my BA at the University of Bristol, before going on to study for an MPhil in European Romanticism at Glasgow and Bologna, and then for a PhD at Cambridge. I finished the thesis in 2000 and taught at Oxford before taking up lectureships at Sheffield (2001) and York (2005). I joined Keble in 2011.
I teach across the undergraduate syllabus, from the eighteenth century to the present. At graduate level, I have co-convened the MSt in English, 1660-1830 and I also teach on the 1800-1914 MSt.
My first book, The Art of Eloquence: Byron, Dickens, Tennyson, Joyce (2007) explored the relations between political oratory and literary culture from Romanticism to Modernism. That study was influenced by William Empson, and I've also edited a collection of essays on his work - Some Versions of Empson (2007). In Comedy: A Very Short Introduction (2012) I look at comedy as a literary genre and as a range of non-literary impulses and events (pantomime, circus, stand-up acts, and other funny business).
My work in the last few years has focused on poetry. I've edited The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry (2013) and in November 2012 I gave the British Academy Chatterton Lecture on 'Edward Lear's Lines of Flight' (available here). Recent publications include a short book on Byron and an essay on T. S. Eliot, and I'm finishing a book on Wordsworth's Laughter. Other current projects include a piece on Charles Lamb for Thinking Through Style, eds. Marcus Waithe and Michael Hurley (OUP, 2016), a co-edited edition of Crotchet Castle for The Cambridge Edition of the Novels of Thomas Love Peacock, and a collection of essays on Edward Lear and The Play of Poetry (OUP, forthcoming 2016), co-ed. with James Williams. My next project is a book provisionally entitled Knowing Edward Lear, and I'm also beginning to wonder about how to write a study of wonder; some initial thoughts on the subject -- 'The Funny Thing About Trees' -- have come out in Raritan (PDF available here).
At Keble, Erica McAlpine and I run The Salutation and Cat Reading Group and the Meet the Poet Series. I also convene the Adam Phillips seminar on The Poet's Essay.
I have appeared on Radio 3's The Essay programme. I also write for The Literary Review and London Review of Books (recent pieces are on Edward Thomas, Treasure Island and its adaptations, cockneys and nineteenth-century London, William Hazlitt, Robert Frost, and Lewis Carroll).