About me

I am Professor of Early Modern Literature in the English Literature department at the University of Edinburgh. I grew up in London, studied in the brilliant city of Manchester, then returned to London for several PhD years spooling through microfilms in Bloomsbury. I was lucky enough to land a British Academy postdoctoral fellowship, and spent three very happy years at the University of Leeds. Arriving in Edinburgh in 1997, I made myself at home – and can’t now readily imagine living anywhere else. I don’t feel much like a southerner any more, though I still get mildly cheesed off when England crash out of the World Cup and I’ll never tire of the view over Greenwich from One Tree Hill.

(c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Greenwich and London from One Tree Hill, about 1680 by Johannes Vorsterman (c) National Maritime Museum

My interest in early modern literature in Britain grew from a fascination with the cultural and political ferment of the mid-seventeenth century. Despite strong sympathies with the radical writers of the time and a critical and historical approach shaped by Christopher Hill, Margot Heinemann and Raymond Williams, I found myself working on the cavaliers – some of whom, I discovered, were much more than the bibulous melancholics and obvious losers I’d initially taken them to be. From there I branched out in my teaching and research to take in Marvell, Philips, Jonson, Shakespeare, Hobbes, Milton, and Rochester, among lots of others, and developed a sideline in twentieth century poetry. I grew interested, too, in the ordinary language philosophy of Austin and Cavell (Searle not so much), and the concept of performativity as developed by Derrida and Butler. I’m also becoming increasingly interested in Anglo-Scottish cultural relations in the ‘Stuart century’ from 1603-1707. It’s been great to be able to indulge these enthusiasms in the company of some fine colleagues and wonderful students over the years.

I seem to be getting busier, and the branches keep on coming: manuscript discoveries, editorial work, collaborative research projects, exhibitions, walking tours, and a growing excitement about the digital transformation of literary studies. (There’s more on all of these on other pages.) This site is really just my way of keeping tabs on all of this, and bringing all the online traces of the work I’ve done under one virtual roof. Curators gonna curate, after all.


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