'Dispute Incarnate’: Philip Roth’s Operation Shylock, the Demjanjuk Trial and Eyewitness Testimony
Though I belong to the Faculty's Modern & Contemporary Period Group - and, indeed, currently convene it - I think and write about 'big' literary history, and have published on authors from Homer to George Gascoigne (c. 1535-1577) to Katie Kitamura.
To date, my main area of publication has been war representation. My aim has been to reorient the prevailing axis of interest so that the question becomes, not so much how war literature relates to war, but how war literature relates to literature. Authoring War: The Literary Representation of War from the Iliad to Iraq identifies six areas in which armed conflict is resistant to representation - credibility, scale, space, time, language and logic - and illuminates commonalities in the ways in which authors across the ages have responded to the challenges. The Cambridge Companion to War Writing also combines theoretical thinking about war representation with a transhistorical perspective. My latest book, Veteran Poetics: British Literature in the Age of Mass Warfare, 1790-2015 (forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in 2018) illustrates how war veterans have been deployed by authors from William Wordsworth to J. K. Rowling to explore questions relating to being, knowing and communicating. What can be recovered from the past? Do people stay the same over time? Are there right times of life at which to do certain things? Is there value in experience? How can wisdom be shared?
To encourage scholarly collaboration and collegiality in the field of war representation, in 2010 I co-founded the War and Representation Network (WAR-Net), with Professor Gill Plain of the University of St. Andrews. WAR-Net is now a network of scholars across Britain, Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia, with some 450 members. With Gill, I am also co-General Editor of the monograph series Edinburgh Critical Studies in War & Culture. We welcome book proposals from scholars at all stages of their careers.
In 2017-18, I am co-convening, with Dr. Niall Munro of Oxford Brookes University, a seminar series funded by the Mellon Foundation called Post-War: Commemoration, Reconstruction, Reconciliation. This Series will bring together creative practitioners, academics and figures from the public sector, including the architect Daniel Liebeskind, the novelists Aminatta Forna and Rachel Seiffert, the poets Dunya Mikhail and Jenny Lewis and the composers Jonathan Dove and Errollynn Wallen, continuing the interdisciplinary approach of Memory, Mourning, Landscape.
In the more focused time-frame of Modern and Contemporary Literature, I have published on topics from moments of insight in Henry James and Dorothy Richardson to Virginia Woolf’s brackets to roses and tiredness in the post-war novel (forthcoming). I am the editor of The Modernist Party (2013) and co-editor of Tove Jansson Rediscovered (2007). I am also the editor of Flower/Power: British Literature in Transition, 1960-1980, which will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. I review contemporary fiction regularly for The Times Literary Supplement.
Right now, I am in the early stages of a new major research project on literature and silence. In Spring 2017, I held a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship with the Oxford Quaker Meeting at 43 St. Giles, beginning to learn about silence, spirituality and poetry. My plans are to edit an anthology of poetry relating to silence and to work on a book, provisionally entitled Literature’s Silences, which will explore silence, the silent and the silenced in literature from the medieval period to the present, reflecting in the process on its own gaps, omissions and white spaces.
I am interested in supervising dissertations on war writing, modernism and, particularly, literature and silence.
- Prelims Papers 1B, 3 & 4
- FHS Papers 5, 6 & 7
- MSt and DPhil supervision in 19th- and 20th-century literature, particularly war writing, modernism and literature and silence.
I read English Language and Literature as an undergraduate at Somerville College, Oxford, and took an MPhil in Renaissance Literature at St. John's College, Cambridge. I then qualified as a barrister and worked for the Government Legal Service for seven years, with stints at the European Commission in Brussels, the Conseil d'Etat in Paris and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, before returning to Somerville for an MSt, this time in modern literature, and a DPhil. I was then a Junior Research Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford, a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow, and a Senior Lecturer and Reader at Birkbeck, University of London. In 2014, I became a Tutorial Fellow of Harris Manchester College. I'm also a published poet and an Associate of the Royal College of Music in piano performance.
- Member of the Appointments, Finance and Planning Committee
- Modern & Contemporary Period Convenor