I have been based at Queen Mary since 2001, first as a PhD student researching a project on William Blake and eighteenth-century legal discourse, and more recently as a lecturer in the Department of English. I specialize in eighteenth-century literature, with a particular emphasis - in both my research and teaching - on London as a cultural and commercial centre. My recent work focusses on the British encounter with China via the eighteenth-century East India trade. I’ve recently written a book with Markman Ellis and Richard Coulton on the cultural history of tea (though I admit – somewhat to my shame – that my own tea tastes are of a relatively unrefined tea-bag-in-a-mug variety). I am proud both to live and work in Tower Hamlets in the East End of London: it’s an exciting, energetic, and profoundly surprising part of the city.
My teaching has two main focuses: an intellectual curiosity about the life and literature of the eighteenth-century city of London (the main focus of my research activity), and – separately – an interest in the undergraduate development of core disciplinary skills. So whilst I regularly number among the lecturers on the popular second year eighteenth-century module Representing London, and have convenedReading William Blake and The Revolution Controversy 1789-1796, I also co-convene the compulsory final-year module English Research Dissertation (including running a series of research-training workshops), and a related writing support programme. Discovering ways to make this skills-based learning as enjoyable for my students as their more regular modules remains a core challenge of my teaching life.
I have taught on:
- ESH219: Representing London: The Eighteenth Century
- ESH351: Reading William Blake
- ESH6000: English Research Dissertation
- Intellectual, literary, and commercial life of the city of London in the eighteenth-century
- Global commerce, culture, and identity in the eighteenth century
- Poetry of the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth centuries
- Enlightenment legal discourse and the history of crime
- Skills-based learning in the discipline of English Studies
Recent and ongoing research
My research focuses on the literary and intellectual life of London in the eighteenth century, and on the tracing the eighteenth-century flows of commodities, people, and ideas between Britain and the part of the world described in the period as 'the East Indies'. I have published articles on Blake’s legislative architecture, the literature of penal transportation, and on the City of London as a space for commerce, mercantile life, and civic government. With Markman Ellis and Richard Coulton I have published a study on the cultural history of tea across the long-eighteenth century (The Empire of Tea: How an Asian Leaf Conquered Britain), and maintain a blog related to our ongoing work on this project. With Richard Coulton and Chris Reid I have also recently published a collaborative study exploring the theft of books in eighteenth-century London (Stealing Books in Eighteenth-Century London). I am currently working on a study of the handbooks issued to excise officers charged with the surveillance of large areas of British manufacture in the period 1700-1820.
- William Blake and the Visionary Law - Prophecy, Legislation and Rights (Palgrave, forthcoming 2022)
- Stealing Books in Eighteenth Century London, with Chris Reid and Richard Coulton (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
- The Empire of Tea: The Asian Leaf that Conquered the World, with Markman Ellis and Richard Coulton (Reaktion, 2015)
- '“To Rub the Nose in the Tea”: Smell, Taste, and the Assessment of Quality in Early-Nineteenth Century Tea Retail', in Shopping and the Senses: A Sensory History of Retail and Consumption, 1800-1975, ed. by Serena Dyer (Palgrave, forthcoming 2021)
- 'Administrative fictions of domestic manufacture: Eighteenth-century excise guides', Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture 48 (2019): 139-159
- 'Writing Tea's Empire', in Annals of Science 75 (2018): 255-259
- '"Observe how parts with parts unite / In one harmonious rule of right": William Blackstone's Verses on the Laws of England', Law and Humanities (2012)
- ‘"A Most Exquisite Dilemma": Conscience, Dissent, and the Limits of Civic Authority in London's Sheriffs Case’, London Journal (2012)
- ed., Tea and the Tea-Table in Eighteenth-Century England, Vol. 3: Tea, Commerce and the East India Company (Pickering & Chatto, 2010)
- ‘The Discourses of Law and Architecture in Blake’s The Four Zoas’, Romanticism, 12 (2006)
- ‘Criminal History Transported: An Enquiry into the Literary Origins of the Australian Convict Narratives’, Australian Studies, 16 (2001)
I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.