Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of English
My research focuses on the ways in which literature attempts to bear witness to events of its own time, particularly in times of war. I have published several books on the First World War, and articles on the Crimean War and the American/Viet Nam War. I read the literary works alongside, and in dialogue with, other writings of the period, such as newspapers, medical writings, political journals, and war propaganda.
I have an interest in reading psychoanalysis historically, and have worked on Freud, Melanie Klein, Wilfrid Bion, and John Bowlby. In a recent essay, I explore the ways in which babies were perceived in Britain at the time of the Armistice of 1918. I study the strong (some would say pernicious) influence of self-proclaimed infant expert, Truby King, who recommended a strict, almost military regime for the nation’s babies. Many people were dismayed by this approach, and we can see concern for the future of babies at this time in the writings of Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen, as well as in discussions in the press and the medical journals. This is published in The Silent Morning (2013), a book about the Armistice I co-edited with Kate Kennedy, who wrote her PhD at Clare Hall.
My work on the First World War led me to think further about the political problems created by the widespread use of propaganda and lies in the press of the time, and I decided to learn more about the ways in which earlier wars were represented in the newspapers. This led me to work on the Crimean War (1854-56), and I am currently finishing a short history of this topic, looking at the military and naval histories alongside representations of the war in the newspapers, photographs, and poetry.
I also work on memoirs and novels by Vietnamese, American and Australian soldiers and civilians (including many former refugees) of the American/Viet Nam War, and teach an MPhil course on this subject. I wrote a memoir of an Australian veteran who had served in Viet Nam, The Listening Watch (2013). I supervise for several Cambridge colleges on British and American literature from the 1840s to the present, with a special interest in Virginia Woolf. I teach summer school courses and courses for the Sutton Trust, which encourages bright students from non-traditional backgrounds to apply to Cambridge. Previous posts include lectureships at the Universities of Edinburgh and Southampton, and a Visiting Professorship at the Goethe Universität, Frankfurt.
In college, I am a Tutor, Praelector, Editor of the Clare Hall Review and I serve on the Publications, Music, Social Events and Development Committees. I am the administrator of the Intimate Engagements concerts. I set up the Clare Hall Literary Talks series. This series has brought exciting contemporary writers to Cambridge, and is currently exploring the writings of Virginia Woolf and her contemporaries. Outside college, I am Aurora Fellow, supporting Indigenous Australian post-graduate students in Oxford and Cambridge.
To my Clare Hall tutees: please email me if you have any concerns about your course or any other aspect of college or university life. I am always interested to hear about your work, too, so do come and tell me about it over lunch in college. As Editor of the Clare Hall Review, I am often looking for good photos of college events, so if you are a keen photographer, you are welcome to send a few high-resolution images that might be suitable for the Review to firstname.lastname@example.org.