My doctoral research focused on the production and perpetuation of meaning around heritage sites through the particular example of Dove Cottage in Grasmere. Encompassing all periods from the 1790s to the present, it incorporated elements of history and philosophy as well as literary criticism and sociology. My thesis, A Place Reimagined: The Cultural, Literary and Spatial Making of Dove Cottage, Grasmere, is heavily invested in literary geographies, and particularly in the role of literature in creating and perpetuating meaning around place in an ecopoietic sense.
This was funded as a collaborative doctoral award by the AHRC under its Landscape and Environment project, and conducted between the departments of Sociology, and English and Creative Writing, at Lancaster University, with The Wordsworth Trust as a collaborative partner. My field research involved various methodologies, from observations made as a participant observer at the Wordsworth Trust, to qualitative interviews with visitors to the Wordsworth Trust, to archival work, and much else besides.
My MA thesis in Creative Writing – ‘Writing the Body Well: Poetry and Illness’ – similarly drew on interdisciplinary methodologies, using examples from nineteenth and twentieth century literature to discuss the relationship between poetic practice and health. All these areas continue to inform and underpin both my creative and academic work.
My academic teaching experience covers a broad range of areas throughout literature and creative writing, from the late-eighteenth century to the twenty-first, with particular emphases on poetry, place and embodiment. From 2010-2014 I taught English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. I’ve also taught Romanticism at the University of Cumbria, and Contemporary Literature at Queen Mary, University of London. From September 2014 – August 2017 I lectured in English Studies (English and Creative Writing) at the University of Strathclyde. Since then I have taught Creative Nonfiction at the University of Cumbria and poetry at Lancaster.
My on-going research continues to be concerned with the construction of the Lake District as a cultural centre, and with Romantic Legacies and the role of contemporary creativity in perpetuating Romantic tropes (consciously or unconsciously) in a broader sense. As a practicing poet I am also interested in various aspects of contemporary poetics, particularly in relationships between poetry and place(s), embodiment, and in the role of poetry in society, and where poetry, Disability Studies, and Environmental Humanities might meet.
I co-curated The Gravestone Project with Dr. Emily Stanback (University of Southern Mississippi): a collaborative digital humanities project gathering data on eighteenth and nineteenth century graves and burial cultures.
I have presented my critical work at many national and international conferences and symposia. Papers I have given in recent years include:
- “National Property’ versus ‘Pure Community’: Contested Lands in the English Lake District’ at ALECC 2016: Making Common Causes, Kingston, ON, June 2016.
- ‘‘Stinking of me’: transformations and animal selves in contemporary women’s poetry’ at ‘The Company of Wolves’: Sociality, Animality, and Subjectivity in Literary and Cultural Narratives, University of Hertfordshire, September 2015.
- ‘Fantastic Grasmere: inheriting the uncanny’ at Locating Fantastika, Lancaster University, July 2015.
- ‘The Next New Lake Poets?: Reappraising Grasmere as a Centre for Three Generations of Contemporary Poets’ at New Generation to Next Generation 2014: Three Decades of British and Irish Poetry, Institute of English Studies, London, March 2015.
- “Most Constant and Most Fickle Place!’: rethinking the Wordsworthian local(e)’ at The End of Place (as we know it), Strathclyde, 2014. A shorter version of this was also given at BARS: Romantic Locations, Wordsworth Trust, 2014.
- ‘(Re)fin[d]ing Wordsworthian Ecopoietics’ at ALECC 2014: Culture, Justice and Environment, Thunder Bay, Ontario (on contemporary poets’ use of Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journals).
- ‘‘A kind of second life’: Narrating the Wordsworthian Grave’ at The Wordsworth Summer Conference (2013).
- ‘Writers in Residence in Our Own Lives’, with Carol Rowntree Jones, at Great Writing: The International Creative Writing Conference, Imperial College, London (2013) [Paper read in absentia due to illness].
- “Natural Hearts and Second Selves: Ecopoiesis at the Wordsworth Museum’ at Shifting Territories: Modern and Contemporary Poetics of Place, UCL Institute of English Studies with Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre (2013).
- ‘Inland Depths, New-Discovered Coasts: Colonizing Grasmere’ at Home and Nation: Reimagining the Domestic, 1750-1850, Leeds (2013).
- ‘The Theatre of Dreams at Grasmere: the uncanny prospects of Thomas De Quincey’s Lake District’ at NASSR 2012: Romantic Prospects, Neuchâtel.
- ‘‘With Grasmere As Our Centre’: the (re)creation of Wordsworthshire’ at ALECC 2012: space+memory=place, University of British Columbia, Okanagan.
- ‘‘A scuttle for Dorothy Wordsworth’: re-writing the haunted object’ at Transforming Objects, Northumbria (2012).
- ‘Cultivating a Dream: Making Home at Grasmere’ at BSECS 2012: Landscapes and Environments, Oxford (2012).
- “Natural Hearts and Second Selves’: Ecopoiesis at the Museum’ at Engagements with Nature, Nottingham (2011).
- Participant in AHRC Landscape and Environment Project Writing Worlds Workshop, Nottingham (2011).
- “Inland depths, sea-like sounds’: at sea at Grasmere’, at NASSR 2010: Romantic Mediations, Vancouver and at The Wordsworth Summer Conference (2010).
- ‘Genii of Grasmere: spirits of the place’, a Bindman talk at the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere (2010).
- ‘The Science of Happiness: Northern Winter versus Nilotic Mud’, at Thomas De Quincey, Manchester and Medicine, 1785-1859, University of Salford (2009).
- ‘Dreaming Grasmere: De Quincey and the sense of mysterious pre-existence’, at the North-West Long Nineteenth-Century Seminar, Manchester (2009).
- ‘Home at Grasmere: an experiment in dwelling and letting dwell’, at Romantic Explorations, University of Koblenz-Landau (2009).
- “Wondrous Cold’: home and unhomeliness at Grasmere’, at the Wordsworth Summer Conference (2009).
- ‘Naming, Marking, Mapping: the ecopoiesis of home at Grasmere’ at Wales and the West Romanticism Seminar: Romantic Science, University of Glamorgan, Cardiff (2008).