Raised in Newcastle-under-Lyme, I read English Language and Literature at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, winning a College Scholarship and graduating in 2006, before going on to complete an MLitt in Film Journalism (with Film Theory) at Glasgow University in 2008. After working as a freelance culture journalist and online editor in the art-publishing sector, whilst preparing a research project on Deleuzean affects and anti-Francoist aesthetic subversion in 1970s Spanish alternative cinema, I then briefly pursued part-time Mphi/Dphil research in post-Communist Polish cinema and temporality before training to be, and working as, a support worker and project co-ordinator for 3 years in London. In 2016 I switching my primary academic focus back towards Literature and completed an MA in English Literature at Keele University.
During my Masters I looked to develop a number of new critical lines, including mapping Deleuzean-inflected ontologies of Braidotti and Jane Bennett into literary theory in order to develop the category of ‘Deleuzean enchanted-realist ecocriticism’. My dissertation read several works of contemporary literature concerned with working-class milieus, including Lisa Blower’s Sitting Ducks, Anthony Cartwright’s Iron Towns and Martin Amis’ Lionel Asbo through a framework which rethought the later-work of Raymond Williams within a post-Derridean Haunt-ology to explore literary accounts of class-based ‘residual’ and ‘emergent’ practices, bodies and spaces in the context of dyschronia, theories of memory and the collapse of class-based political projects (with particular attention to the work of Mark Fisher, and Owen Hatherley’s post-Benjaminian readings of industrial ruins and modernist architecturally-embodied imaginaries).
I am now pursuing a PhD in Contemporary English Literature at the same institution, supervised by Nicholas Bentley and Ceri Morgan. This Phd research is a continuation and expansion, in scope and theoretical depth, of my Masters Dissertation work on the Contemporary Working Class in literature.
Alongside my research, I am the Humanities Post-Graduate Research Committee co-Rep whilst serving on the Post-graduate Research Forum Committee and on the Post-Graduate Symposium Committee. Beyond this I am involved with the Geopoetics group ‘Dawdlers’ run by Dr Ceri Morgan, an active member of Keele’s Creative Writing Society and serve on the Keele Chapel committee as Cassoc co-Rep. Outside of my life at Keele, I am an A-Level/University Entrance Tutor in English Literature, Cultural Studies and Film Theory as well as a relief Community Support Worker (with specialisms in Mental Health and Substance Misuse).
Research and scholarship
My research examines representations and presence of working-class subjectivities within contemporary British Literature (post 2000, and with particular reference to post-2008 Literature). Chapters include: Work and Capital; Creativity and Alternative Practices; History/Hauntology; Depictions of the working-class within media and institutional forms, and reproductions/subversions of working-class personae; Places and psychogeographies.
Following my Dissertation this research draws upon established connections and tensions between the Derridean haunt and the Deleuzean ‘becoming’ as well as the ‘trioletical’ or ‘third’ figure, to establish ontological foundations for zones and bodies historical, becoming and virtualized within modern-day British literary universes containing a ‘working-class’ presence in their structure of feeling.
It seeks to consider class as constituted by memories, positions, cultural sediments and economic transitions as well as partially permeable and fungible, thus taking in a variety of class-subjectivities around work, creativity, gender, ethnicity and political emancipation. The study explores ethics of representation (after Emmanuel Levinas, and Derek Attridge on literature’s ‘peculiar’ event, as well as Nicholas Royle’s ‘veering’) and accounts of agency within a broadly (post)post structuralist framework which seeks to fulfil David Punter’s claim for the ‘haunt’ as the ‘most material’ ways of seeing things within contemporary space. It looks to do so through an approach that fuses work on ‘difference’ and liminality with a cultural materialist framework to perceive class-subjects in relation to the spatial-temporal post-crash austerity environment - along with a perceived wider-crisis in neoliberalism- and discover new equivalents of Ian Haywood’s archetypical ‘working-class realism’. In the process it will approach performativity and virtualization in the context of Claire Colebrook’s poststructuralist revival of irony (after Linda Hutcheon), Alison Lee and Lynn Wells’s work on anxiety and the attempted recuperation, through literature, of historical-narrative in post-modern milieus. It also draws upon my earlier Masters-study readings of the grotesque and collectively subversive in the light of the liminal relationship between ‘haunting’ and ‘possession’ in spectral materiality and subjectivities. This study specifically engages with the most contemporary treatments of working-class literary subjectivity, including the post-Williamsian postcolonial frame of Sonali Perera (2014) , John Lavelle’s post-Foucaultian reading of working-class literature (2014) and the anti-work autonomist literary subjectivities explored by Roberto del Valle Alcala (2016).
Primary texts at this stage include those Jon McGregor, Ross Raisin, Lisa Blower, Sunjeev Sahotta, as well as a range of ‘canonical’ and critically surveyed works by the likes of Monica Ali, James Kelman, Irvine Welsh and Zadie Smith; it will also pay attention to the recent experimental literary and mixed fiction-factual work , centering around place and subcultures, published by such independent presses as Salt, Dodo Ink and Dead Ink.
It is grounded in work done within contemporary sociology, including that of Justin Gest (2016), Evans/Tilley (2016), Pilkington (2016 ), Simpson and Hughes(2016 ), Kirsteen Paton (2014) , Walker and Roberts (2015), and Silva (2016) on gendered labour practices and class, intersections of class and ethnicity/sexuality/disability, the effects of gentrification, voting patterns and self- identifications with both rooted-places and (post-Foucaultian) heterotopic zones. It will also draw upon Anoop Nayak, Vik Loveday and other sociological theorists of nostalgia and collective temporality in relation to the practice of memories –individual and communal- around working-classhood and those fantasies available within the community or idioculture. Predominant Bourdieuan notions of intra-class distinction will be read against the rejection of ‘class-names’ within Rancierean-influenced critiques like Isobel Tyler’s. Following Tyler, Beverley Skeggs ,Lisa Mckenzie and Elias Le Grande my study examines accounts of media representations around ‘respectability’ , ‘revolt’ and abjection in relation to variants of autonomism and notions of widespread cross -class precariaty, before finding corollaries within literature. Spatially, the study examines estates literature, ‘edgelands’ , villages and seasides as well as the urban through the work done around psychogeography by Tina Richardson in her schizocartographical accounts after Guattari and Doreen Massey’s Soja/Deleuze-inflected work on ‘place’, Christopher Collier on autonomist-influenced psychogeographical practices and Kim Duff’s literary-studies accounts of post-Thatcherite textual spaces/places.
This study will explore how, in temporal and conceptual terms, contemporary literatures present subjectivity through subjectively continuous and dyschronic narration, heteroglossic narrative forms and the effects of environment practices upon temporality, (whether ‘capital’-flow speed or decay-time). Finally, in terms of political agency and imaginary my research approaches the Gramscian view of class resistance through Nicholas Thorburn’s accounts of autonomism, as well as attempts to overcome left melancholia about class (e.g Simon Charlesworth’s phenomenological study) by the likes of Fisher (with ‘acid communism’) and his affective future-driven politics of freedom, by Jeremy Gilbert which similarly map and theorise resistance (‘acid Corbynism’), and through the political dimensions of psychogeographical practice (as practised by the LPA) as well as Bifo Berardi’s political-poetics.
I am keen to hear from anyone interested in collaborating, whether fellow English-Literature researchers or those outside of Literary Studies looking to engage in interdisciplinary work, especially around the areas of psychogeography, representations of the working-class in contemporary culture or relationships between institutions (social services, educational institutions, benefit agencies) and the working-class, as well as work around the creation of new spaces through art or emergent practices and the formation of new political imaginaries. Beyond this I am also interested in how teaching and assessment methods in the Humanities deal with Mental Health and Neuro-diversity. Finally, I would also be interested in co-developing university-community projects around place and working-class themed storytelling, place-writing and showcasing of community-work as well as activism.
Publications and presentations
- ’Social Hauntings’ Workshop: at the ‘GeoHums ’ zines, (Social) Hauntings, fantomalisation and more… ‘ Event (31.10.17).
- 'Class, Raymond Williams and the Empty Coffin': Residual and Emergent Practices in the novels Sitting Ducks, Lionel Asbo and Iron Towns (2017)