My general research interests include late medieval and early modern poetry, poetics, and drama. I have a particular interest in changing perceptions of authorship and literary authority; representations of the writing process; paratexts (in particular marginal glosses and marginalia); and the relationship between manuscript and print cultures. I am also a practising poet.
Many of these interests developed from work on my first book, John Skelton and Poetic Authority: Defining the Liberty to Speak, which was published by OUP in 2006. As the first book-length study of Skelton since the 1980s, this demonstrated that his highly idiosyncratic poetic theory is grounded in his practice as a writer and translator. Arguing that his presentation of the poet as divinely inspired not only builds on existing traditions, but also anticipates some of the more assertive claims of poetic authority typically associated with the later sixteenth century, it contributed to recent challenges to conventional period boundaries and to the reassessment of Skelton’s position in the canon. What it also did, however, was to make me think about ways in which authors might communicate with their readers – and this led to my second book, Diverting Authorities: Experimental Glossing Practices in Manuscript and Print, which will be published by OUP in 2014. This began as a study of the (surprisingly numerous) cryptic or comic marginal glosses that appear as an integral part of printed texts in sixteenth-century England. My original intention was to ask whether these emerged only with the advent of print, and what this might say about the impact of the new medium of transmission on relationships between authors and readers – but looking back to authorial glossing in pre-print texts meant that it developed into a wider argument about the marginal gloss as a site of various kinds of experiment, reflecting writers’ discoveries about the nature of authorship as much as attempts to impress those discoveries on their readers.
My next book will be on representations of the creative process in the literature and drama of the fifteenth and earlier sixteenth centuries. I hope to demonstrate that the common practice of appealing to the eye as well as to the ear in predominantly verbal art-forms provides a means of reflecting on the creative process, and thus constitutes a significant contribution to the poetics of the period.
- Late Medieval and early Early Modern (and related Paper 6 special options)