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Personal profile

Academic Biography

I am Associate Professor in English in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law, where I lead the English and Creative Writing Research Group and Co-Lead the Centre for Culture and Creativity.  I am Academic Director (Teesside) for the Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership.


I completed my BA (Hons) English Literature degree and PhD in English Literature at Newcastle University.  My thesis examined representations of embodiment in texts by twentieth century British and American women writers, including Leonora Carrington, Angela Carter, Flannery O’Connor and Sylvia Plath.


I teach on the BA (Hons) English Studies and English Studies and Creative Writing degrees and the MA English Literature.  My teaching expertise is in the field of modern and contemporary writing, women’s writing and critical and cultural theory, including feminist theory, queer theory and transgender studies, contemporary literary culture, African American writing and film and television adaptations.

Summary of Research Interests

My research interests are in three areas: women’s writing, gender and sexuality in twentieth century and contemporary fiction (including feminism, queer theory and transgender studies), cultural practices of adaptation and appropriation (including film and television adaptation and Neo-Victorian culture) and interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities and social sciences.


My current research focuses representations of material culture in twentieth century women’s writing, with a special emphasis on women’s creative labour, women’s work in the textile arts, crafts and industries and depictions of clothing poverty.


I am co-editor with Fiona Tolan (Liverpool John Moores University) of the Routledge Companion to Literature and Feminism (forthcoming autumn 2023).  This collection brings unique literary, critical and historical perspectives to the relationship between women’s writing and women’s rights in British contexts from the late eighteenth century to the present.  Specially commissioned essays by leading feminist scholars offer new insights into the crucial role played by women’s literary production in the evolving history of women’s rights discourses, feminist activism and movements for gender equality.  The transformative power of women’s words is explored in genres ranging from novels, plays and poetry to letters, journals and life writing, and hymns, libretto and manifestos, and new light is cast on women’s role as editors, publishers and cultural activists in championing women’s voices.  This collection brings into new focus the historical and cultural conditions which have shaped the formation of British literary feminisms, including the legacies of slavery, colonialism and Empire.  From the political novel of the 1790s to early twentieth century suffrage theatre and contemporary ecofeminism, and from the mid-Victorian anti-slavery movement to anti-fascist activism in the 1930s and working-class women’s writing groups in the 1980s, this book testifies to the diverse and dynamic character of the relationship between literature and feminism.  Thematically organised around five central concepts – Rights, Networks, Bodies, Production and Activism – the Routledge Companion to Literature and Feminism tracks vital questions, debates and demands across time, offering fresh perspectives on changing priorities and enduring continuities in relation to women’s ongoing struggle for liberty and equality.


My most recent monograph, Transgender and the Literary Imagination: Changing Gender in Twentieth-Century Writing (Edinburgh University Press, 2018), revisits twentieth century narratives and their afterlives, examining the extent to which they have reflected, shaped or transformed changing understandings of gender. Grounded in feminist scholarship, informed by queer theory and indebted to transgender studies, this book investigates the ways in which transgender identities and histories have been ‘authored by others’, with a focus on literary fiction by British, Irish and American authors, life writing and adaptation for stage and screen.


Rereading Heterosexuality: Feminism, Queer Theory and Contemporary Fiction (Edinburgh University Press, 2012) investigated the affinities and tensions between feminist and queer theory perspectives on non-normative female heterosexual identities, with a focus on British and American novels published between 1995 and 2005.


My research in gender and sexuality studies has also been published in leading peer-reviewed journals, including Journal of American Studies (2010), Journal of Gender Studies (2010), Textual Practice (2000; 2014) and Women: a cultural review (2011). 


I have edited two interdisciplinary collections: Litpop: Writing and Popular Music (with Adam Hansen, Northumbria University; Ashgate, 2014) and Adaptation in Contemporary Culture: Textual Infidelities (Continuum, 2009).


I have published a series of journal articles on the representation of black British identity in film and television adaptations, ranging from adaptations of classic Victorian novels to adaptations of novels by contemporary black British authors (Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 2019; Adaptation, 2015; Andrea Levy: Contemporary Critical Perspectives, 2014).

Research Projects & External Funding

I am Principal Investigator for a project entitled “Empowering children to shape the future of research on social inequality and health,” funded by the AHRC Engage the public with the future of health and care in the UK scheme. 


I was Principal Investigator for a QR Global Challenges Research Fund project, Decolonising Feminism (2019), in collaboration with Fiona Tolan (LJMU) and working with project partners Stuti Khanna (Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi) and Nukhbah Langah (Forman Christian College, Lahore).  A research symposium, Beyond Western Eyes: South Asian Women’s Writing in Contemporary Contexts (2019) featured keynotes by Amina Yaqin (SOAS) and Navtej Purewal (SOAS). 


I was Co-Investigator for a QR Global Challenges Research Fund project entitled, Women Writing South Asia: Pakistan Perspective (2020-2021, PI, Madeline Clements), working in partnership with Dr Munazza Yaqoob, International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI).  A three-day Early Career Research Workshop (March 2021) was delivered to a cohort of 25 women ECRS from HEIs across Pakistan.  Mentoring was provided in support of collaborative researcher-led Small Research Projects (May-July 2021), including “Women in the Pakistani Literary Landscape: A Gendered Overview of Editorial Positions in Independent Journals and Magazines” and “Women in Leadership Positions in Higher Education in Pakistan: Challenges and Opportunities”.


I was awarded a Modern Humanities Research Association Conference Grant in support of Species of Spaces: A Transdisciplinary Conference on the Work of Georges Perec (Teesside University, March 2014).  Keynote speakers included: Dr Kate Briggs (American University Paris), Christian Bök (University of Calgary, Canada) and Dr Victoria Hunter (University of Chichester).  Research outcomes have been published in Species of Spaces: Transdisciplinary Approaches to the Work of Georges Perec, a Themed Issue of Literary Geographies (2017).

PhD and Research Opportunities

I have supervised four PhD projects to completion, including one by Completed Work.  I am currently supervising three PhD students as Director of Studies and a further seven as second / third supervisor.  I have acted as External Examiner for four PhDs.


I welcome applications from prospective PhD students on topics relating to women’s writing and gender, sexuality or race in modern or contemporary writing, especially those exploring aspects of material culture in relation to questions of gender equality and social and environmental justice.

External Research Collaborations

I have worked with international research partners on project promoting the work of South Asian women writers and the careers of South Asian Early Career women researchers: Decolonising Feminism (2019), with project partners Stuti Khanna (Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi) and Nukhbah Langah (Forman Christian College, Lahore) and Women Writing South Asia: Pakistan Perspective (2020-2021) in partnership with Dr Munazza Yaqoob, International Islamic University, Islamabad. 


I have worked with researchers and practitioners from disciplines across the arts, humanities and social sciences to organise conferences designed to promote cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration.  These events include: Women, Narrative and Crime: An Interdisciplinary Conference (2015); British Culture After 9/11 (2014); Species of Spaces: A Transdisciplinary Conference on the Work of Georges Perec (2014); Litpop: Writing and Popular Music (2011); Teaching Adaptations (2010); Arts Practice and Sociological Research Methods: Exploring Boundaries (2009).

External Roles and Professional Activities

I have served as Chair of the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association (2016-19) and am Associate Editor at the journal Contemporary Women’s Writing (Oxford University Press), with special responsibility for the annual CWW Essay Prize.


I am a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College.  I have served as a Review Panel Member for the Research Council for Culture and Society, Academy of Finland and the European Science Fund.

Enterprise Interest and Activities

Cultural representations – whether in fiction, film or television – have an important role to play in promoting public debate and understanding around questions of gender equality and social justice. I am interested in working with external partners on projects to do with equality, diversity and inclusion in relation to gender, sexuality and race.

Learning and Teaching Interests and Activities

My teaching interests are in the field of modern and contemporary literature and culture, with a special focus on women’s writing and gender and sexuality in literary and culture. I lead modules on topics including women’s writing and feminist theory, African American writing and research skills.  I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, The Return to the Body in the Work of Sylvia Plath, Angela Carter, Leonora Carrington and Flannery O'Connor., Newcastle University

Award Date: 1 Jul 1996

Bachelor, English Literature, Newcastle University

Award Date: 1 Jul 1991


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