I studied English as an undergraduate at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where I also completed my PhD. I taught British and American Literature at the University of Galway (1997-99), before moving to the University of Aberdeen to hold the posts of Lecturer (2000-13), Senior Lecturer (2013-19), and Personal Chair (2019-). I have been Director of Research for the School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture (2019-22), and Programme Coordinator for the Intercalated BSc. (Hons) in Medical Sciences: Medical Humanities (2011-20).
I have held visiting posts at various institutions including the College of William and Mary (Visiting Professor of English, 2004), the Scaliger Institute, Leiden University (Visiting Fellow, supported by a Royal Society of Edinburgh / Caledonian Research Fund European Visiting Research Fellowship and a Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowship, 2017-18), and the Kunstkamera (Visiting Scholar, 2018). In 2022 I held a Derek Brewer Visiting Fellowship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
I am a Senior Fellow of the UK's Higher Education Academy (2017-). I am a past president of the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society (2014-16). I currently serve as a member of UKRI's Future Leaders Fellowships Peer Review College.
- PhD English1997 - University of Cambridge
- MA English1994 - University of Cambridge
- BA Hons English1991 - University of Cambridge
Memberships and Affiliations
- Internal Memberships
Director of Research, School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture (August 2019-July 2022)
Deputy Director of Research, School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture (August 2018-July 2019)
Discipline Research Lead in English (August 2015-July 2022)
Academic Line Manager, School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture (January 2016-July 2019)
Programme Coordinator, Intercalated BSc. (Hons) Medical Sciences: Medical Humanities (August 2011-July 2020)
- External Memberships
Member of UKRI’s Future Leaders Fellowships Peer Review College (2021-)
Member, Nineteenth-Century Experimental Song Collective (2020-)
External examiner, MLitt in English Studies, University of Dundee (2019-22)
Prizes and Awards
Winner of the 2015 Book Prize of the British Association for American Studies for the best published book in American Studies in the previous year for Literature and Music in the Atlantic World, 1767-1867 (Edinburgh University Press, 2014).
My research has two main focuses: 1) literature and the Enlightenment; and 2) literature in dialogue with other arts.
Literature and the Enlightenment
My first monograph, Literary Memory (Bucknell University Press, 2003), examined the relationship between memory and writing in the long eighteenth century, focusing on the Waverley Novels of Walter Scott and their influence in North America. The book pays particular attention to the ways in which Scott combined popular memory and the tradition of philosophical history in order to redirect understanding of the past. I continue to publish on Scott, particularly his treatment of Scottish history, and his influence on nineteenth-century literature, music and painting.
My more recent work on literature and the Enlightenment has focused on the physician or surgeon as writer in the Atlantic world and beyond; on the institutions of Enlightenment that contributed to the making and circulation of knowledge; and on the art of travel in northern and Eastern Europe, not only for elites on the Grand Tour, but also for less exalted individuals seeking to further their education or find work abroad. My current monograph, a study of early modern life writing between 'East' and 'West', builds on this research, with its focus on travel as a spur to writing about the self, and on connections between Enlightenment philosophy and history and Russian and Western European practices of life-writing.
Literature in dialogue with the other arts
My work on the Enlightenment has foregrounded especially the relationship between literature and the other arts as a way of understanding Enlightenment cultures and their legacies. My second monograph, Literature and Music in the Atlantic World, 1767-1867 (Edinburgh University Press, 2014), provided the first interdisciplinary account of the interweaving of literary and musical genres in this period of transatlantic history. It was awarded the British Association for American Studies annual book prize for the best book in American Studies.
My current work on literature and music is a project on 'poetic piano music', that it, those compositions for piano which take their inspiration from literary texts, and often use the programmatic layering of title and epigraph as a frame of reference or point of departure for performer and listener. I draw on the philosophy of music of Vladimir Jankélévitch to consider how such works in performance reinterpret or 'explain' the literary texts with which they are in dialogue. I study piano with Scottish pianist, Alan MacLean.
I am currently accepting PhDs in English, History, Music.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.
- Russian and East European Studies
- English Literature 1700 -1900
- Scottish Literature
- North American Literature Studies
I contributed a chapter on 'King's College and Marischal College in the Age of Romanticism', for 525 Years in the Pursuit of Truth: A New History of The University of Aberdeen, edited by Bradford Bow and Michael Brown (Aberdeen University Press, 2022). My podcast, 'James Beattie (1735-1803): Philosopher and Poet', is drawn from my chapter for this volume.
I am a member of the Nineteenth-Century Experimental Song Collective, led by Professor Ian Newman, University of Notre Dame (2020-).
I am a member of the Network of Nineteenth-Century Americanists in Scotland and the North of England, led by Dr Andrew Taylor, Edinburgh University, and Dr Kirsten Treen, University of St Andrews (2020-).
I was a member of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, led by Professor Jane Macnaughton, Durham University, and supported by the Wellcome Trust (2013-19).
I was a member of the Romantic National Song Network, led by Professor Kirsteen McCue, University of Glasgow, and funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2017-19).
I was a collaborator in the Medical Humanities Research Network Scotland, led by Dr David Shuttleton, University of Glasgow, and Dr Gavin Millar, University of Glasgow, and supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Government (2011-13).
I was a participant in the STAR (Scotland’s Transatlantic Relations) Project, led by the late Professor Susan Manning, University of Edinburgh, and supported by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (2003-13).
I co-edited the the collection of essays, Scotland, Ireland, and the Romantic Aesthetic (Bucknell, 2003), which contributed to the evolution of an 'archipelagic' approach to British and Irish Romanticism.
At the postgraduate level I welcome applications for research projects on aspects of British, continental European and North American literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, on literature in dialogue with other arts (especially music), and on literature, medicine and science. I am happy to accept students wishing to take a distance PhD.
I am currently supervising:
Ms Isabella Engberg, 'Travelling Ecology: Nature and Self in Naturalist Voyage Narratives' (University of Aberdeen PhD Thesis, in progress).
My past doctoral students include:
Dr Matthew Lee, 'Private Reflections and Public Pronouncements: Caribbean Slavery in the Scottish Consciousness, 1750-1834' (University of Aberdeen PhD Thesis, awarded 2022).
Dr Natalie Harries, 'Romantic Esotericism, Neoplatonism and Hinduism in the Poetry of Coleridge and Shelley' (University of Aberdeen PhD Thesis, awarded 2018).
Dr Candice Smith, 'Architecture, Politics and Gender in the Gothic Novel of the 1790s' (University of Aberdeen PhD Thesis, awarded 2014).
Dr Stephanie Saint, 'The Conflict between Creativity and Economic Circumstance in the Selected Prose Work of Herman Melville' (University of Aberdeen PhD Thesis, awarded 2013).
Dr Steffi Metze: 'An Imperial Enlightenment? Notions of India and the Literati of Edinburgh' (University of Aberdeen PhD Thesis, awarded 2011).
Funding and Grants
2018: I held a Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowship at the Scaliger Institute, Leiden University.
2017: My research on the Edinburgh-Leiden medical nexus was supported by a grant from the Caledonian Research Foundation / the Royal Society of Edinburgh, held at the Scaliger Institute, Leiden University.
2013: I was awarded a grant from the Wellcome Trust (Humanities and Social Sciences funding area) in support of the 2013 annual conference of the Association for Medical Humanities, which was held in Aberdeen on the theme of 'Global Medical Humanities'.
2003-13: My research on literature and music in the Atlantic world was supported by grants from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (2003, 2009, 2012, and 2013) and the British Academy (2004-6).
First half session
EL50C5: The Novel: Environments and Encounters (seminars)
EL40HQ: Literature and Medicine (convenor; seminars)
EL30XR: Romanticism (convenor; lectures and seminars)
EL2017: Power, Equality and Empire (lectures and tutorials)
I am on research leave in the second half session.
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Review of Gerard Lee McKeever, 'Dialectics of Improvement: Scottish Romanticism, 1786–1831' Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020Eighteenth-Century Scotland, vol. 36, pp. 42-43Contributions to Journals: Reviews of Books, Films and Articles
Irish RomanticismA History of Irish Women's Poetry. Darcy, A., Wheatley, D. (eds.). Cambridge University Press, pp. 105-126, 21 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
525 Years in the Pursuit of Truth Podcast: James Beattie (1735-1803): Philosopher and PoetNon-textual Forms: Digital or Visual Products
Memoir of the Early Life of William Cowper, Esq. by William CowperDisability Experiences. Couser, G. T., Mintz, S. B. (eds.). Gale, pp. 487-491, 5 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Hume as Man of Letters: Comments on Harris's 'Hume: An Intellectual Biography'Hume Studies, vol. 45, no. 1-2, pp. 7-16Contributions to Journals: Reviews of Books, Films and Articles
Collectors of Natural Knowledge: The Edinburgh Medical Society and the Associational Culture of Scotland and the North Atlantic World in the Eighteenth CenturyJournal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 155-164Contributions to Journals: Articles
Writer-PhysiciansThe Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism. Duff, D. (ed.). Oxford University Press, pp. 355-370, 16 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Scott's The Heart of Midlothian and the disordered memoryMemory and Memorials. Taylor and Francis AS, pp. 30-45, 16 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Tobias Smollett, Travel Writing, and Medical BotanyThe Scottish Enlightenment and Literary Culture. McLean, R., Young, R., Simpson, K. (eds.). Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 53-76, 24 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Benjamin Rush, Edinburgh Medicine and the Rise of Physician AutobiographyScottish Medicine and Literary Culture 1726-1832. Coyer, M. J., Shuttleton, D. E. (eds.). Rodopi, pp. 97-122, 26 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters