Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
My research into pedagogy addresses the problem of how creativity and innovation operate within formal educational systems. Key to this is understanding the entanglement of educators and students in neoliberal, managerial and standardized teaching and learning contexts. My book, 'Teaching Shakespeare and Marlowe: Learning vs the System' (2013) is an attempt to understand this context. The book draws on my experience as part of a long-running collaborative research project with a Sydney school. The project began as ‘Shakespeare Reloaded’ in 2008 and continues as ‘Better Strangers’ (2011-19). The project co-hosted: the ‘Unlearning Shakespeare’ symposium at Oxford Brookes (2012); the ‘Radical Shakespeare Pedagogy’ roundtable at the Shakespeare Institute (University of Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon, 2012) and a conference on Shakespeare and learning (Sydney, 2010) with the Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association which led to the book, 'Teaching Shakespeare beyond the Centre: Australasian Perspectives' (2013). The project hosted the Shakespeare FuturEd Conference in Sydney in 2019. The project website is Shakespeare Reloaded (shakespearereloaded.edu.au).
I am also interested in English women’s writing in the 1650s. I began by researching aesthetic, political and religious contexts for the anonymous Puritan woman’s book, Eliza’s Babes or the Virgin’s Offering (1652). More recently I have been considering the early works of Margaret Cavendish in terms of how she accesses natural philosophical knowledge from the late 1640s to mid-1650s.
From my earliest academic writing onward I have been fascinated by the interconnections between early modern literature and the visual arts. This began with my book 'The English Mannerist Poets and the Visual Arts' (1998) which approached metaphysical and cavalier verse through the inter-art lens of mannerist style. More recently, I have spent a lot of time, and numerous articles and chapters, trying to understand how early modern English writers understand the idea of the ‘grotesque.’ My recent book with Routledge is an annotated sourcebook of English texts that define, apply and explore the grotesque from 1500-1700.