Associate Professor of English Literature and Culture, Volda University College, Norway
Welcome to my website. I created these pages in the hope they will allow at least some of the work I do among the fjords and fjells of western Norway to venture out upon the seven seas and come to the attention of a wider audience.
I have lived in Volda since the autumn of 2011. Before that, I spent four and a half years at the University of Tromsø (also in Norway), an institution that sits well within the Arctic Circle and is, indeed, the northernmost university in the world. In an earlier life, I was born in Bristol (England), grew up in Somerset, and studied classics first at the University of Oxford (BA) and then at the University of Bristol (MA and PhD). After completing my doctorate, I spent 9 months as a Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome. From there I proceeded to dip my toes for a few years in the alternative career streams of academic administration and publishing. During that time, I also lived for 10 months in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. This was not a formal part of my education, but it explains why I have since published a couple of articles on the Russian poet and essayist Joseph Brodsky.
As that last anecdote indicates, my academic interests have to some degree been as itinerant as my postcodes. I arrived in Norway in 2006 as a classicist with a particular interest in the Roman poet Virgil and in the reception of classical culture in modern European literature. I have continued to sustain both of those interests since, usually intertwined with a more wide-ranging consideration of how aesthetic and other ideals are presented and explored in literature in relation to the natural environment. My crossing of the North Sea to Norway has, however, had at least one (seemingly paradoxical) effect: the terms of my employment require me to drop anchor ever more frequently in – or at any rate land whatever catch I have made further out at sea upon the quayside of – the harbour of English studies in particular.
My publications include the monograph Bucolic Ecology: Virgil’s Eclogues and the Environmental Literary Tradition (Bloomsbury, 2008), the co-edited volume Romans and Romantics (Oxford University Press, 2012), and a special issue of a journal on the reception of Scandinavian culture in the British Isles (Scandinavia 56.1). I have also published articles and book chapters on such things as borders, ecology and metaphor, as well as the reception of classical antiquity in later European writers such as Dante Alighieri, Joseph Brodsky, Brian Friel, and Percy Shelley.
I am currently working on a study of Virgil’s Aeneid, Augustine’s Confessions and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest that sits loosely within the field of ‘environmental humanities.’ Making use, too, of the still nascent concept of the ‘aesthetic imaginary’ this project takes as its point of departure the presentation of the natural environment in these three works and explores a) the forms of human nature and human life each presentation of the natural environment sustains; and b) the capacity of different artistic projections of the natural universe to alter our understanding of that universe and influence the way we act towards and within it.
I am also involved in the development of a number of online digital resources to help students interpret and write about the literature and culture of the English-speaking world. One of them, the Literary Criticism Online Resource (LiCOR), is freely available here.
To read more about my publications and research projects, please follow the links above and below.