skip to content

Cambridge Reproduction


I work on the nineteenth century and I am currently finishing a trilogy which spans the period 1815-1914 and is an investigation of the concept of ‘seriality’ and its importance to the emergence of a particular version of Western modernity. The first book focuses on print and show culture in Britain in the Regency and early Victorian period to argue for a newly serializing culture and a corresponding shift in concepts of historical and social time. Serial Forms: The Unfinished Project of Modernity, 1815-1848 (Oxford University Press, 2020). The political implications of this change are the subject of the second book in the trilogy, 1848 Serial Revolutions: Writing, Politics, Form (Oxford University Press, 2022). This book uses not just English, but American and European language texts to focus on the literary, historical, political and serial event that was ‘1848.’

I am currently working on the final book, Serial Empires. This will ask what happens to the nationalisms of 1848 after mid-century and the inauguration of electronic digital communication. The new global regimes of control were communication-based and it is no coincidence that telegraphy and the new so-called ‘racial science’ emerged together as hegemonic in the 1860s: both were technologies of white supremacy. Serial Transmissions will argue that literature and the visual arts in the second half of the nineteenth century are not just reflecting or representing the new digital media but also creating the cultural conditions for their uptake and application, and so therefore also ‘making’ them.

My first monograph, published by Oxford University Press in 2004, Patent Inventions: Intellectual Property and the Victorian Novel, explored the shifting values of originality and imitation in the nineteenth century under the pressure of rapid industrialization. Both print history and the history of technology have remained important strands of my research. I am CI on a Leverhulme Project Grant, The Society of Authors, 1884-1914: Professional Association and Literary Property based at Leeds University and the British Library, a project which returns me to the subject of copyright in a transatlantic context. 

A related strand of my research concerns the media, technology and my second book, ‘Dr Livingstone, I Presume?’: Missionaries, Journalists, Explorers and Empire (London: Profile Press and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007) used the famous 1871 meeting of the explorer and missionary, David Livingstone, with the adventurer and journalist, Henry Morton Stanley to investigate how modern print and the Western media in the 1870s constructed the empire while abusing the history and ignoring the modernity of Africa. 

I am also currently co-writing a book with art historian, Professor Caroline Arscott, tentatively entitled, Germinal Matter: Idylls and Ecospheres in the Art and Literature of the 1860s.  This project focuses on the transformative decade of the 1860s when ideas of biological growth, reproduction, and racial ‘science’ are being coded into the aesthetic practices of idyllism.