I studied at the University of Southampton, where I gained a BA (Hons) in French and English. My undergraduate dissertation was on Marxism and feminism: I pursued these interests further in an MA on Culture and Social Change (University of Southampton, 1996). My MA dissertation on mapping in novels by Anne Hébert, Marie-Claire Blais, and Nicole Brossard began my interest in the spatial. Entitled 'No Place Like Home', my PhD (University of Southampton, 2000) was on literary geographies in post-1960 French-language Québec fiction. I spent part of my PhD programme as a stagiaire de recherche at l'Université du Québec à Montréal (1997).
Visiting Eakin Fellow at McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, Montreal, in Autumn 2007, I took up a Leverhulme International Academic Fellowship at the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University, Montreal in Summer 2014. This marked a sea change in my research and practice: since that time, I have worked increasingly on participatory projects, using creative writing and other arts practices to make place-based art with a range of people in and outside academia. A longstanding member of the Montreal-based geopoetics research group, la Traversée, I lead or co-lead geopoetics (place-engaged creative practice) workshops in the Stoke region and beyond.
Most of my teaching is in English and Creative Writing, where my specialisms are contemporary literary studies and theory, late twentieth century and twenty-first century fiction, place-writing (poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction), spatial theory, creative prose, and critical-creative writing. I am currently working on a Teaching Innovation Project led by Dr Pawas Bisht, entitled ‘Creative Environmental Storytelling “in the Field”: Place-based Interdisciplinary Environmental Education & Student-led Outreach’ (2022-4). This brings together colleagues and students from Humanities and Natural Sciences, external partners, and local publics.
Research and scholarship
I am a researcher-practitioner (literary critic and creative writer). As a critic, I work on literary geographies in Québec fiction, contemporary place-writing, cultural geography, and participatory methods. As a creative writer, I work on short forms, mainly prose-poetry and creative nonfiction. I bring my critical and creative work together in critical-creative writing and creative participatory geohumanities. I am a walking artist (with ‘walking’ referring to a range of practices, not all of which are bipedal). I make artwalks or generate art, artistic moments, or art events, usually with other people. Participatory artworks include a project on mining in collaboration with performance company, Restoke, called Seams (2018) (https://seams-geopoetics.co.uk/), a project on persistent pain with dancer and moving-image artist Anna Macdonald, Circling (Again) (2018-20) (http://circlingartproject.co.uk/) and a virtual reading-writing group, Microclimates (2020-present), featured in NAWE Writing in Education, 87 (2022).
My literary studies monograph, Mindscapes of Montreal: Québec's Urban Novel, 1960-2005 (University of Wales Press, 2012), looks at how imaginary and material geographies come together to produce a city of neighbourhoods. My creative writing takes the forms of flash fiction, creative nonfiction and prose-poetry, and includes publications in NAWE Writing in Education (2022, 2021, 2020), Nightingale and Sparrow (2022), Forge Zine (2022), GeoHumanities (2019), and Littoral (2017). My prose-poem, ‘Avenue Bernard’ was broadcast on RTE Radio 1 extra and RTE Radio 1 in Spring and Summer 2020. Projects in process include a book on Québec’s literary regions (provisionally entitled, Heartlands/Pays du cœur), a poetry pamphlet (In the absence of trees), and a creative nonfiction book (Mauve/d).
I am currently working on an AHRC Leadership Fellowship, ‘Heartlands/Pays du cœur: Geohumanities and Québec’s “regional” fiction’ (https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=AH%2FT006250%2F1). This looks at literary geographies in Québec’s Eastern Townships fiction, and works with artists and community members to generate new creative responses to the region.
I have received a number of external awards and prizes, including: a Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowship (2014-15), three British Academy small research grants (2016, 2009, 2008), two Prix du Québec offered by the Office of the Government of Québec in the UK (2014, 2003), two Government of Canada Faculty Research Program awards (2011, 2005), an AHRC Research Leave Award (2007), a McGill Institute for the Study of Canada Visiting Eakin Fellowship (Fall 2007), and an international prize offered by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (2001).
As a multilingual, chronically ill person from the South Wales Valleys, I am especially interested in places, mobilities (and reduced or restrained mobilities), languages, bodies, and deindustrialisation. Considering creativity an everyday practice, I play with its potential, working with others to reimagine spaces and places in ways that are hopefully inclusive.
School of Humanities
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 733109