I am interested in how literary cultural studies can help us to unpack some of our assumptions in the modern world. This has led me in different directions, from authorship debates in late modernism to coal mining in the Naturalist novel, but all with the aim of figuring out how literary culture can help us understand about ourselves and our environments. For the past five years, I have focused in how this understanding might affect our political engagement with health and the environment: how, for instance, breath works so well as a rhetorical figure in political movements because it so immediately raises the conditions of embodied situation in the world, or how asbestos, already implicated in the conspiracies of the companies that mined and manufactured it, comes to work so well as container for other forms of “fake news.”
I spent some years as a postdoctoral research fellow on the Life of Breath project, based at Durham and Bristol, which was a wonderful opportunity to work with anthropologists, clinicians, historians, public health experts and many, many others. Together, we were able to bring together more theoretical approaches to medicine and the humanities, and think of ways of intervening in the critical medical humanities and in applied respiratory care.
I work on the Scenes of Shame and Stigma in COVID-19 project, which considers how UK responses to the pandemic were shaped by shame prone interventions. Taking a cultural-historical approach to the first year of the pandemic, the project advances recommendations for more shame sensitive policies in this and future crises. Some the initial thinking of this project can be found here. I’ll also be collaborating with Professor Luna Dolezal, Dr Matthew Gibson (Birmingham) and Dr Barry Lyons (Dublin) on their Shame and Medicine Project.