Current research projects:
I am currently working Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded Piston, Pen & Press project exploring the ways in which the industrial working class accessed and participated in literary culture in Scotland and the North of England in the 'long Nineteenth Century'. For details of this project, see our website: https://www.pistonpenandpress.org
I recently co-edited a collection of essays with my colleague Professor David Matthews. Entitled Subaltern Medievalisms: Medievalism ‘from below’ in Nineteenth-Century Britain, you can find more about this pioneering collection of essays here:
I am also intermittently working on a project examining the role of religion within the Chartist movement. This project emerged out of work I undertook on the National Chartist Hymn Book which was published as an article, '"God is our guide! our cause is just!": The National Chartist Hymn Book and Victorian Hymnody', in Victorian Studies, 54:4 (Summer 2012). Parts of this project already published include: ‘The Godlike Nazarene and the People-Christ: the figure of Christ in the Chartist Imaginary’, in E. Ludlow ed., The Figure of Christ in the Long Nineteenth Century, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019); ’“God’s Insurrection:" Politics and Faith in the Revolutionary Sermons of Joseph Rayner Stephens’, in J. King & W.J. Werner eds., Constructing Nineteenth-Century Religion: Literary Historical, and Religious Studies in Dialogue, (Ohio State University Press, 2019), and 'The guilty game of human subjugation': religion as ideology in Thomas Cooper's The Purgatory of Suicides’, in J. Goodridge & B. Keegan eds., Cambridge Companion to Working-Class Literature, (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Other publications inculde essays on the relationship of Chartism and drama, and on Chartist educational ideas. See, ‘The Platform and the Stage: the Primary Aesthetics of Chartism’ published in P. Yeandle, K. Newey, J. Richards eds., Politics, Performance and Popular Culture (MUP 2016), and ’From “Technical” to “Cultural” Literacy, Reading and Writing in the British Chartist Movement’ published in Ann-Catrine Edlund, T.G. Ashplant, Anna Kuismin eds., Reading and Writing from Below: Exploring the Margins of Modernity (Umea UP, 2016) for further details.
In 2009 I published a monograph on Chartist poetry, entitled The Poetry of Chartism: Aesthetics, Politics, History with Cambridge University Press. This study argues that ‘Chartist poetry’ currently exists as a complex of aesthetic, historical and sociological problems rather than a properly defined category of literary history. My interest is in Chartist poetry as a praxis which is simultaneously aesthetic and political and, therefore, in the individual Chartist poem as an aesthetic text, a political text and an historical text.
My main research interests are the relationship between culture and politics in nineteenth-century working-class radicalism with a particular emphasis on the Chartist movement.