My research is shaped by my engagement with a cultural studies approach to literary analysis and by my interest in modern continental philosophy (particularly phenomenology). As such, my work often examines the historical specificity of texts, not with a view to providing a context for that work's significance, but in order to explicate with more precision the cultural moment which it contributes to creating. Placing texts, artefacts and disciplines up against each other, my intention is to offer new versions of what Walter Benjamins described as constellations (ie. the ideas/objects/concepts/spaces that shape our being-in-the-world). My first monograph is a case in point: Criminal Law and the Modernist Novel (Cambridge University Press) connects the modernist writing of E. M. Forster, Ford Madox Ford and Marcel Proust with developments in the criminal trial, arguing that both discourses contribute to a culture in which the modern concept of experience is disappearing. In the book, I thus compare the form and content of modernist narratives with their 'realist' parents - the novel and trial in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: both entities which, I argue, are very much based on the 'experience' of modern philosophy and science.
My current research project builds upon this interest in law by examining a range of identification techniques (photographic mugshots, fingerprints, DNA analysis) and suggesting that they form inherent connections with various theoretical models of identity and literary representations of subjectivity. This work has also been behind my founding of an AHRC funded research network entitled ‘The Art of Identification’, details of which can be found at http://artofidentification.com.