I work at the intersection of poetry and philosophy. My work takes its cue from Coleridge’s insight that poetry has ‘a logic of its own’ that throws it into competition with philosophy as a means of coming to know the world. I am especially interested in the ways in which poetry might enable us to apprehend those things that lie beyond the usual sphere of knowledge and experience. As such, my work often has a theological as well as a philosophical edge. Put simply, my work tries to answer the question, ‘What do we know when we read poetry?’
I am currently completely a book about the English poet and Jesuit, Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., entitled Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Manifoldness of Knowledge (Bloomsbury). The book is a study of how Hopkins thought ‘thinking’ happened and why it seemed to happen best when his attention was divided. My next book project, provisionally titled Hopkins Among the Modernists, considers the explosive impact of the posthumous publication of Hopkins' Poems in 1918 and 1930 on the ambitions and practice of modernist verse-writing.
With Angela Leighton and Yui Kajita, I am co-editor of Walter de la Mare: Critical Appraisals, a collection of essays on the life, work, and literary friendships of Walter de la Mare, (Liverpool University Press, 2022).
I maintain active research interests in the work of Alfred Tennyson, T. S. Eliot, and Thomas Hardy, and Kathleen Raine.
I teach on poetry and poetics, with a particular focus on nineteenth- and twentieth-century verse-writing. At Christ Church, I teach for Papers 3 (1830-1910) and 4 (1910-present day). For the faculty, I offer lectures and supervision in areas related to my research interests.
I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
At Christ Church, I am responsible for Tower Poetry which was founded in 2000 by a generous bequest from the late Christopher Tower to promote the enjoyment and critical appreciation of poetry, particularly among young people in education. Tower Poetry runs an annual competition for 16-18 year olds in the UK on a set theme, and biennial residential summer schools for 18-23 year olds. More information can be found here: https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/research-and-academia/about-tower-poetry