I am a cultural theorist whose interdisciplinary approach combines literary/cultural studies, critical theory/philosophy, and intellectual history. My research and scholarly publications focus on three intertwined areas: narratives of crisis, in particular the sleep crisis and the climate crisis, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives, and the politics of time. I also have a particular interest in two contemporary authors, Jim Crace and Douglas Coupland.
Below you can read more about my research interests and find a list of my scholarly publications.
The Sleep Crisis
I’m currently PI on “Writing the Sleep Crisis”, a research project funded by the Wellcome Trust and the European Commission, the first to explore the discourse of contemporary society as profoundly sleep-deprived across fiction, non-fiction, and digital culture. Through literary and cultural analyses, I explore the concerns about contemporary life highlighted by the notion of a sleep crisis and what these concerns reveal about the relationship between health, in particular mental health, and neoliberal ideologies, especially those shaping our sense of self, experience of time, and working lives.
Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic Narratives
Today, we tend to think about the apocalypse as a catastrophe of overwhelmingly dystopian consequences but, traditionally, apocalyptic narratives concern the advent of a utopian world at the end of history. My research investigates what is at stake in this shift to a dystopian apocalyptic imagination by theorising the significance of time in the contemporary post-apocalyptic novel.
The Politics of Time
The analysis of time and its politics is the underlying theme of most of my scholarly work. I’m interested in how we narrate, make sense, and structure time and history, and in how, in turn, these sense-making narratives and structures shape our sense of self and the world we live in, in particular, its socio-political and economic formations.
The Anthropocene and the Climate Crisis
My work on the apocalyptic imagination engages with the idea of the Anthropocene, the current geological epoch defined by the devastating impact of human activities on the Earth system and climate breakdown. I’m interested in cultural representations of this epoch and in multidisciplinary approaches to the Anthropocene.
My first academic article was on Jim Crace’s The Pesthouse and, since then, I’ve maintained a keen interest in this contemporary British writer. In 2017, thanks to a Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin (USA), I had the opportunity to research the previously unexplored archival materials of the Jim Crace Papers.
A prolific and celebrated writer and visual artist, much of Douglas Coupland’s oeuvre is concerned with what it means to be living in the contemporary moment. My research investigates this aspect of Coupland’s work, especially his engagement with the politics of time. In 2021, I was one of the organisers of the first international conference devoted to Coupland’s work, “Douglas Coupland and the Art of the Extreme Present“.
If you’d like to read something I’ve written but don’t have access to it, do get in touch.
My book is out now in paperback
The Contemporary Post-Apocalyptic Novel
Published by Bloomsbury in 2020, The Contemporary Post-Apocalyptic Novel offers an innovative critical model for our cultural obsession with the apocalypse by focussing on the significance of time in the 21st-century post-apocalyptic novel.
“A landmark study of 21st century fiction”
“A theoretical tour de force”
“A rigorously interdisciplinary work”
“Demonstrates the social relevance of literature and literature analysis”
“That rare work that functions on an advanced theoretical level while also nonetheless being applicable to many classroom contexts”
You can find the book in major bookshops like WHSmith, Bookshop.org, Amazon, Blackwell’s, and Barnes & Noble.
Quantified Sleep: Self-Tracking Technologies and the Reshaping of 21st-Century Subjectivity
Co-authored with Simona Chiodo. Historical Social Research 48.2 (2023): 176-93.
Patterns of Repetition: Colonialism, Capitalism and Climate Breakdown in Contemporary Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
Parallax 27.1 (2021): 12-30.
Critical Temporalities: Station Eleven and the Contemporary Post-Apocalyptic Novel
Open Library of Humanities 4.2 (2018).
“Time, no arrow, no boomerang, but a concertina”: Cloud Atlas and the anti-apocalyptic critical temporalities of the contemporary post-apocalyptic novel
Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 59.2 (2018): 243-57.
The Representational Impasse of Post-Apocalyptic Fiction: The Pesthouse by Jim Crace
Altre Modernità 9 (2013): 66-80.
Contemporary Canonicity (or, what not to read)
Co-authored with Rachel Sykes and Arin Keeble. Alluvium 7.1 (2019).
Introduction: The Literature of the Anthropocene
Co-authored with Daniel Cordle. Introduction to “The Literature of the Anthropocene”, special issue of C21 Literature: Journal of 21st-Century Writings 6.1 (2018).
Contemporary Studies Network Roundtable: Responding to Robert Macfarlane’s “Generation Anthropocene”
Co-authored with Rachel Sykes et al. Open Library of Humanities 3.1 (2017).
Essays in Edited Collections
The Politics of the Archive in Nineteen Eighty-Four
The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Ed. Nathan Waddell. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. pp. 51-63
“What’s the plot, man?” Alternate History and the Sense of an Ending in David Means’ Hystopia
21st Century US Historical Fiction: Contemporary Responses to the Past. Ed. Ruth Maxey. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. pp. 229-44.
“False patterns out of chaos”: Writing Beyond the Sense of an Ending in Being Dead and The Pesthouse
Jim Crace: Into the Wilderness. Ed. Katy Shaw and Kate Aughterson. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. pp. 65-79.
Forthcoming Essays in Edited Collections
✓ “Sleep Mode: Phones, Achievement-Subjects, and the Sleep Crisis in Contemporary Literature”. Telepoetics. Ed. Sarah Jackson, Annabel Williams, and Phil Leonard. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2023.
✓ “Contemporary Literature of the End Times.” Contemporary Vulnerabilities. Ed. Pier Paolo Piciucco. Turin: Nuova Trauben, 2023.
✓ “Insomnia.” A Cultural History of Sleep and Dreaming vol. 6. Ed. Rob Meadows and Christiane Solte-Gresser. London: Bloomsbury, 2024.
Edited Special Issues & Clusters
Thirty Years of Generation X
Multimedia cluster. ASAP/J, November 2021. Curated with Andrew Tate and Mary McCampbell.
The Literature of the Anthropocene
Special issue of C21 Literature: Journal of 21st-Century Writings 6.1 (2018). Edited with Daniel Cordle.
Station Eleven and Twenty-First-Century Writing
Special collection of Open Library of Humanities (2018). Edited with Daniel King.
Review of Mathias Nilges, How to Read a Moment: The American Novel and the Crisis of the Present.
American Literary History 35.1 (2023): 705-707.
Contemporary Studies Network Roundtable: Review of Amy Hungerford, Making Literature Now
Journal of American Studies 52.4 (2018): 1122-1136. Written with Rachel Sykes, Arin Keeble and Judie Newman.
Review of Julian Murphet and Mark Steven eds, Styles of Extinction: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road
The Esse Messenger 27.1 (2018).
Low Theory for the End of Pre-History: A Review of McKenzie Wark, Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene
Postmodern Culture 27.1 (2016).