Narratives of wisdom
My first book, published in 2019, (The Butterfly Hatch) was on the modernist writer Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) (1886-1961) and the educational theorist Louise Rosenblatt (1904-2005), in which I explored how aesthetic experience of literature, especially of the past, can lead to exploration of issues usually associated with wisdom.
I defined wisdom as a mix of self-knowledge, life management, and insight into human experiences which are shared across cultures. This work challenged prevailing approaches to literature as pseudo-history and argued for the importance of an experiential engagement with literature and its personalising potential. My philosophical background in this work was derived from American pragmatism and Russian (Christian) personalism.
I have also published on other twentieth-century women writers interested in Christianity, creativity, and tradition, such as Virginia Woolf, Ottoline Morrell, and Elizabeth David (forthcoming).
Narratives of belonging
From 2019-21 I worked on an AHRC- and Wellcome-funded project with Heike Bartel and Una Foye at the University of Nottingham on narratives of eating disorders in men, culminating in an animated training tool co-produced with men with lived experiences of eating disorders.
I am now working on a number of projects related to narratives of belonging, most of which are engaged research projects which utilise literary forms such as poetry, theatre, and film to explore experiences of belonging and sexuality. At the University of Exeter I am part of an AHRC-funded project on LGBTQIA+ loneliness and belonging.
My next monograph will explore experiences of marginalisation and belonging negotiated by gender nonconforming (GNC) gay bottoms in the Western world. It analyses and compares visual and written narratives on the topic at the margins of cultural attention: user-generated erotica, small documentaries, music videos and imagery, online blogs and forums, and foreign-language films that lie outside ‘mainstream’ Western gay culture. In doing so the book interrogates a ‘deep structure’ of gender nonconformity and (gay) bottom identity across Western and non-Western contexts.
The book’s narrative lens will enable readers to explore the ongoing impact of cultural, aesthetic, and developmental scripts in Western settings that isolate sexual orientation (attraction to the same sex) from sex role preference and gender identity and presentation, which consequently derails the consolidation and affirmation of effeminate gay bottom identities.
My book shows how this separation is distinctive in the West – a ‘stunningly recent creation’ that requires renewed attention to non-Western narratives of GNC bottom identity to contextualise Western ‘gay’ perspectives in a more rigorous light (Chauncey, 1994).
The book, which is the first comprehensive study of written and visual narratives, online and offline, which focus on experiences of GNC belonging and marginalisation among gay males in Western contexts, will appeal to academics, LGBT practitioners, sexual health specialists, as well as GNC gay men and bottoms in Western and non-Western contexts.
I also continue to write journalism for a range of national and international platforms on topics such as culture, gay sexuality, citizenship, religion, and food, and I review books for The Lady magazine.
My research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.
I am currently Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter, and Honorary Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Cultures, Languages, and Area Studies at the University of Nottingham. In 2021/22 I will also be teaching in the Department of English at Exeter.
Previously, I have taught literature at the University of Leicester (2015-18) and De Montfort University (2017), and delivered lectures on modernism at Edge Hill University and the University of Valencia. From 2019-20 I also taught Academic Writing at Coventry University.
In 2017 I was also a Visiting Fellow at Veliko Tarnovo University in Bulgaria.
I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Aacademy, supporting excellence in teaching and learning.
In 2020 I was shortlisted for the Mollie Salisbury Cup, an annual memoir competition in memory of Lady Salisbury.