Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am currently supervising doctoral students working on Italian language-learning in Henrician England (Michele Piscitelli), autobiographical writings and the Royal Society (Caroline Curtis), seventeenth-century meditational poetry and prose (Thomas Clifton), and Milton and seventeenth-century philosophy (Lenhardt Stevens).

I welcome enquiries from prospective students interested in early modern English and related literature.


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Personal profile

Research interests

My research examines how English literature interacts with French, Scottish and other languages and literatures, how identity and power shape reading and writing practices, and how literary texts are received and passed down through time. My research includes topics related to literary reception, translation and imitation practices, the history of reading, transnational and comparative literature, women's writing, manuscript studies, epic and religious poetry, language learning, and cultural diplomacy. I tend to work on poetry, using archival and other primary sources wherever possible.

In my doctoral thesis and numerous shorter pieces, I examined case studies in the reception history of James VI and I’s favourite poet, Guillaume de Saluste Du Bartas (1544-90). This evidence supports the argument made in Du Bartas’ Legacy in England and Scotland (Oxford, 2019) that Du Bartas’ extraordinary renown led his works to provide a vital model for popular religious and epic verse to which Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Anne Bradstreet, John Milton, Lucy Hutchinson and many other sixteenth- and seventeenth-century poets writing in English responded.

My current research challenges earlier anglocentric readings of the French influence on English literature to present a more inclusive view of Franco-British poetic activity during James VI and I’s reign. I am developing an approach to reception studies that emphasizes how social and cultural settings shape literary activity, uses archival and historical research to inform literary appreciation, and investigates cultural links between England, Scotland and continental Europe conscious of how they help us reflect on present-day relations between those territories.

In 2019 I organized an international symposium with Sheldon Brammall on ‘Multilingual Practices in Early Modern Literary Culture’, which was funded by the AHRC Open World Project MEITS. Between 2015 and 2017, I used a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award to set up the Early Modern Boundaries network, which offers a way for the global research community to ask and answer research queries.

Please see my personal web-page for a full list of publications with links.


I went to school in Nottingham and Norwich, and then studied at Cambridge and Oxford. After lecturing at Exeter College, Oxford for several terms, I then held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at Queen Mary University of London. I joined Birmingham in 2017. Like many early career researchers, I made many (in my case, over fifty) unsuccessful job and funding applications while on fixed-term contracts.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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