I have been at CCCU since 2014. Before then I was in the Department of History at the University of Essex. I have taught predominantly American history in both (with a brief detour into the history of South and Central America), but also more generally Modern History and skills. I now convene the first year skills module, Making History, the second year module Isolation to Domination: The United States of America, 1914-1945, and the third year module A Superhero History. I am also supervising a number of MA by Research students and a PhD student.
I have published a wide range of journal articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries, mostly related to my primary research interest in superheroes and their relationship to American society, though also touching on other areas. Science fiction is a major interest of mine, and in 2015 I co-edited Firefly Revisited: Essays on Joss Whedon's Classic Series, which won the Whedon Studies Association Manuscript Prize 2016 (the 'Mr Pointy'); my first monograph, Superheroes and American Self Image: From War to Watergate, was published in January 2016, and received a CCCU Faculty of the Humanities Research Award. A second co-edited collection, Gender and the Superhero Narrative, is published by the University Press of Mississippi.
I am currently working on two edited volumes for the University Press of Mississippi on representations of history in and through comics and a co-authored book on American horror comics and the Cold War for University of Manchester Press.
Research and knowledge exchange
I am currently working on several projects related to my research into superheroes, science fiction, and horror in Cold War settings.
Alongside that, I am working on Biggles and the author, Captain W. E. Johns. I have written a chapter on Biggles as a global hero in the postwar world and, once I have completed other projects, will begin work on a book-length project on Biggles, which is under contract with Routledge.
I have supervised across a wide range of topics related to the Cold War and my other teaching interests in the history of the US in the first half of the twentieth century. I am also happy to supervise research projects into twentieth century cultural history, particularly in Anglo-American contexts. If you have a project in this area, or something with which you think I would be able to help, please contact me.
Teaching and subject expertise
I have extensive experience of teaching American history specifically, but also modern history more generally. I have also taught on a range of skills and methodologies modules. I am currently supervising several MA by Research students directly related to my research interests. If you are interested in pursuing a PhD or an MA by Research with me, please do email me for a discussion, or if you are a current student, come and see me in my office hours.
I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and an editorial board member of Studies in Comics and the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. I am the co-convenor of the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) research network, Comics and Graphic Novels: The Politics of Form.
My current interests are:
Cold War horror and science fiction (particularly histories of place and space).
Cultural representations of movement and migration.
Biggles and the fiction of Captain W. E. Johns.
I am co-convenor of the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities network, Oxford Comics Network: http://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/comics#quicktabs-theme_term_quicktab=0
I presented at Drawing on the Past at Senate House in September 2018 with my Masters student, Jordan Newton, on time travel in early Cold War comics.
I took part in a workshop on heroism and class in Freiburg in June 2018.
I gave a keynote address on themes in superheroism at the Historians in the German American Studies Association 2018 conference in Tutzing.
I presented my research on Biggles at Heroism as a Global Phenomenon in Popular Culture in Freiburg, September 2017.
I was on a panel on Wonder Woman at Bradford Literature Festival, 2 July 2017.
I presented at OxCon, a comic-book convention in Oxford, in 2017 and 2018.
I presented at the 2017 British Association for American Studies conference on representations of history in Hamilton.
I presented at 'Everyday Heroism in the United States, Britain and Germany from the 19th to the 21st Century', March 6-7 2015, at Goethe-University of Frankfurt, Germany. My paper was on my research into constructing 'everyday' heroic narratives within stories featuring superheroes. A chapter based on this paper, 'It must have been cold there in my shadow: Everyday Heroism in superhero narratives' appears in the volume derived from conference proceedings: http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/E/bo26346531.html
I presented at the 7th Biennial Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses at Kingston University in July 2016 in a panel on War and the Whedonverses.
Publications and research outputs
Superheroes and American Self Image (Ashgate, 2016)
Firefly Revisited: Essays on Joss Whedon's Classic Series (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015)
Special Issue of a Journal:
Slayage: The Journal of Whedon Studies 13.2 (2015): http://www.whedonstudies.tv/current-issue1.html (co-editor with Philip Smith)
Selected Articles & Chapters:
‘"Superman believes that a wife’s place is in the home": Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane and the representation of women', Gender & History 30.2 (2018)
'Superhero Films and American National Identity' in Histories on Screen: The Past and Present in Anglo-American Cinema and Television (2018)
‘"Corpses… Coast to Coast!" Trauma, Gender, and Race in 1950s Horror Comics', Literature Compass 14.9 (co-author with Philip Smith)
'“It Must Have Been Cold There In My Shadow”: Everyday Heroism in Superhero Narratives' in Extraordinary Ordinariness (2016)
'Comics & Politics' in The Routledge Companion to Graphic Novels & Comics (2016).
'The Spanish-American War' & 'General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna' in America in the World, 1776 to the Present: A Supplement to the Dictionary of American History (2016).
'You Complete Me': The Joker as Symptom' in The Joker: A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime (2015).
"Oh c'mon, those stories can't count in continuity!': Squirrel Girl and the problem of female power', Studies in Comics 5.1 (2014).
'The Body (Politic) in Pieces: Post 9/11 Marvel Superhero Narratives and Fragmentation' in Jason Dittmer (ed.), Comic Book Geographies (2014).
'Friend of the people of many lands': Johnny Everyman, 'critical internationalism' and liberal postwar US heroism' Social History 38.2 (2013).
'We have experienced a tragedy which words cannot properly describe': Representations of trauma in post-9/11 superhero comic-books, Literature Compass 8.8 (2011) (co-author with Philip Smith).