Doctoral researcher in English Literature, University of Birmingham
My PhD project, funded by the AHRC Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership, examines how nineteenth-century poets and essayists linked social equality and the countryside, exploring the relevance for today’s socioenvironmental concerns. The modern political, economic landscape and the Anthropocene (era defined by humanity’s impact on nature) was largely forged in the period from about 1750 to 1914: open fields were enclosed by hedges, rural labourers migrated to cities, and ideologies of individualism and progress replaced communal rights. From the poetry of John Clare to the campaign articles of Octavia Hill (co-founder of the National Trust), nineteenth-century writing provides unique access into human reactions towards rapidly changing social and human-nature relations with industrialisation.
My interdisciplinary work explores how parks, commons, gardens and countryside footpaths are vitally important now as in the nineteenth century because of their potential to connect people with each other and the environment. More broadly, I am interested in the public value of the humanities, the way human culture and community is bound up with the environment, and the importance of sociocultural history in environmental education and conversations on human-nature relations.