My research counterpoises two movements in the intellectual history of rural narratives: radical local thinking which envisages a global commons following enclosure, and that which works to preserve the liberal subject. Broad areas of interest include nineteenth-century land law and its legacies, compulsory purchase, middle-class or “remote” activism, self-erasing expressions of geo-privilege, policy and funding for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and rural aesthetics more generally.
I am particularly interested in the imaginative labour represented by ‘elsewhere’ and ‘meanwhile’ constructions, whether ecologically (‘Meanwhile particles of plastic from packets I opened when I was a child are circulating, right now’, Daisy Hildyard, Emergency) or in the placement of infrastructures (‘Let ‘em go cutting in another parish’, Mr. Solomon, Middlemarch). I will be exploring the wider context and implications of the latter in my next project, provisionally titled ‘NIMBY: The Politics of Encroachment and British Rural Realism’.
My own place of interest is Sizewell, its arts encompassing Sebald’s Rings of Saturn, P.D. James’s murder mysteries, Maggi Hambling’s artworks, and EDF media (from reconstructive drone footage to augmented maps).
In my spare time I co-convene the Literary London Reading Group and would love to hear from scholars – early or established – about their own place-based research.