I received my PhD from the University of York in English Literature, where I focussed on the writer James Baldwin. I joined the University of Manchester in 2012 having previously taught at The University of York and Staffordshire University, as well as stints teaching young offenders, refugees, and asylum seekers. I'm chair of Manchester University Press's editorial committee and I am a co-founding editor of James Baldwin Review, an annual peer-reviewed journal. I'm one of the series editors for the The British Pop Archive book series, a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
My background is in English literature but I have mostly written about twentieth century US literature and culture, including publications on American cold war culture, JFK, Harold Norse, William Blake, Boris Vian, Jack Kerouac, Zora Neale Hurston, Tom Waits, Jeff Nuttall, William Burroughs, James Baldwin, D.W. Griffith, film noir, jazz, Pentecostalism, and 1960s transatlantic counterculture, avant-garde writing, & little poetry magazines. I have written around 70 pieces for the Times Literary Supplement, mostly reviewing works on American literature (literary criticism, literary biographies, poetry, fiction, and memoirs), as well as freelance pieces about living on a boat, amongst other topics.
Over the last dozen or so years my research has focussed on the African American writer James Baldwin (1924-1987). In 2009 I edited A Historical Guide to James Baldwin (Oxford UP), a volume that explores the writer’s relationship to the civil rights movement, transatlantic culture, music, religion, and black queer writing, followed by James Baldwin (2011) for the series Writers and their Work. I co-edited (with Rich Blint) a special issue on Baldwin for African American Review (2013).
My monograph, All Those Strangers: The Art and Lives of James Baldwin was published by Oxford UP in 2015. The book analyses the writer’s life and work against the radically transformative politics of his time, as well as exploring under-researched areas in Baldwin’s life and work—his relationship to the Left, his FBI files and the significance of Africa in his writing—while also contributing to wider discussions about post-war US culture. The book was reviewed in the New York Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement & African American Review, amongst other publications.
Recent and Current Research
My current research focusses on avant-garde little magazines published between c. 1955-1980 and on avant-garde writers, with a particular interest in Alexander Trocchi, Jeff Nuttall, and William Burroughs, the subject of my current book, which explores the theme of failure.
I am the co-editor (with Jay Jeff Jones) of An Aesthetic of Obscenity, an anthology of Jeff Nuttall's fiction, along with several articles on the writer (Beat Scene, PN Review, TLS). I am also the co-editor (again with Jay Jeff Jones), of a 50th anniversary edition of Jeff Nuttall's Bomb Culture. I was the co-curator, with Jay Jeff Jones, of the exhibition, Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground, which was on display at the John Rylands Library, Manchester (2016-17). I was also the co-curator of an exhibtion on Nuttall at Flat Time House in London, The Pyschopathic Now: Jeff Nuttall's Bomb Culture and the International Underground (2018-19)
Recent and forthcoming publications
Walking with James Baldwin (Manchester University Press, 2024).
Co-ed. (with R. J. Riley), a special issue on The Mimeograph Revolution and Avant-garde Little Magazines for Texual Practice (2023).
Chapters in The Cambridge Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Novel and Politics (2023) and The Cambridge Companion to Jack Kerouac (2024).
Co-ed (with Justin A. Joyce and Dwight A. McBride), James Baldwin Review, volume 9 (Autumn, 2023).
Co-ed. (with Luke Walker), a special issue on William Blake, Neo-Romanticism and the Counterculture for the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library (2022).
Co-ed (with A. Robert Lee), Harold Norse: Poet Maverick, Gay Laureate (Clemson University Press/ Liverpool University Press, 2022).
Co-ed (with Jenny Barrett and Ian Scott), D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation: Art, Culture and Ethics in Black and White (Manchester University Press, 2022).
James Baldwin Review