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Personal profile

Biography

My research and teaching interests focus on twentieth-century and twenty-first century Anglo-American literature, discard studies (also known as waste studies), ecocriticism, Marxist theory, and the history of consumer culture and advertising. These interests are partly informed by my previous career in advertising and market research.  I have a particular interest in the writing of JG Ballard and Don DeLillo, and in Cold War American literature and print media. I am the founder of WasteInLit: The International Literary Waste Studies Network (https://literarywaste.com/), which aims to bring together literary scholars working on waste representations across periods and genres and to think critically about the language of waste's role in creating and upholding categories of gender, race, class, nationhood, and otherness.

My first book, Consumerism, Waste and Re-use in Twentieth-century Fiction: Legacies of the Avant-Garde (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), examined the representation of garbage and human beings deemed worthless in a range of experimental Anglo-European and American novels across the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, and argued that re-purposing, celebrating, or simply paying attention to the stuff that capitalist society deems useless has provided one of the pre-eminent means for writers to oppose capitalist consumer culture.

My second book, "All-Electric" Narratives: Time-Saving Appliances and Domesticity in American Literature, 1945-2020 (Bloomsbury, 2021), extends my interest in literary objects to examine the representation of vacuum cleaners, garbage disposal units, refrigerators, and other household gadgets in U.S. literature published after 1945. The book demonstrates how writers across genres and of radically different political persuasions have engaged with domestic appliances' shifting gendered, racial, and class connotations. It also recovers the neglected history of appliance advertising featuring and aimed at Black Americans, and Black writers' engagements with this commercial landscape.

I am currently editing an essay collection titled Queer Trash and Feminist Excretions: New Directions in Literary and Cultural Representations of Waste, under contract with SUNY Press, which brings together the work of scholars from the International Literary Waste Studies Network working on literary waste across genres, periods, and forms, in order to re-dress the male- and heterocentric focus of much literary waste criticism to date (including my own!).

Commencing in March 2022, I will be spearheading a two-year British Academy and Leverhulme-funded project titled "Cleaning Through Crisis: Political Upheaval and the Advertising of Domestic Hygiene, 1963-2023." The project examines the influence of moments of socio-political unrest (including but not limited to the environmental movement of the 1960s, Second-Wave feminism, the economic crises of the 1970s, the 1980s AIDS crisis, and the 2007-2009 financial crisis) on the depiction of domestic cleaning in British and American popular culture. I am analysing hundreds if not thousands of cleaning product ads, appliance ads, and television sitcoms and soap operas produced in this period, to understand how the notion of the "clean home" changed in response to specific anxieties and fears. The project will culminate with a social media exhibition curated in consultation with the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MODA). 

I am also working on a new book, provisionally titled Postmillennial Nostalgia: Mid-Century Design and the Politics of Longing. This book extends my past research into the history and politics of interior design and its representation to examine the origins and ramifications of the explosive popularity, since the early 2000s, of mid-century interior designs, fashions, and consumer goods, and mid-century period television dramas. To whom does this aesthetic mode appeal, and why--and what does its predominance tell us about our own time? 

I am on the editorial board of Ancillary Review of Books: Literature, Culture, Power, Speculation and Gothic Nature: New Directions in Eco-Horror and the Eco-Gothic. I am a peer reviewer for ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment; C21 Literature: Journal of 21st-century WritingsGreen Letters; and Journal of American Studies, and a book reviewer for Journal of American Studies, and European Journal of American Studies.

I welcome research students interested in any aspect of feminist fiction and theory; discard studies; science fiction; dystopian fiction; object theory/thing theory; literary avant-gardes; twentieth-century Anglo-American fiction; ecocriticism; neoliberalism in literature; twentieth-century advertising; literature of the Cold War period.

You can find my personal website here. You can find my Academia.edu profile here.

 

Undergraduate Teaching:

London in Literature (Year 1)

American Literature, 1865-1915 (Year 2)

Modernist & Postwar Literature (Year 2)

Modern American Literature (Year 3)

Contemporary Literature: Dystopias (Year 3)

Dissertations

MA Teaching:

Popular Identities: Gender, Sexuality, and Race

Popular Ecologies: Literature, Philosophy, and Environmental Ethics

MA Dissertations, MA in Popular Literature and Culture

MA Dissertations, MA in Children's Literature

 

Education/Academic qualification

University College London

Award Date: 28 Sep 2015

King's College London

Award Date: 15 Sep 2011

University of Cambridge

Award Date: 25 Jun 2005

Keywords

  • PR English literature
  • E151 United States (General)
  • NE Print media