I completed my first degree and MA at the University of Warwick (1994-1999) before moving to Wadham College, Oxford to write my doctoral thesis (1999-2002) under the supervision of Professor Malcolm Bowie. I joined the University of Birmingham in September 2005, having previously held temporary posts at Keble College, Oxford and the Universities of Leeds and Exeter.
Since 2015 I have been Head of the Department of Modern Languages at the University, having been Deputy Head over 2014-2015. The Department is home to some 75 staff and around 900 Undergraduate and Postgraduate students working across more than 10 different language areas, and incorporating translation and interpreting. As Head of Department I advocate for Modern Languages within the University, and at a national level I have represented the University and the subject area at events run by relevant subject associations, the UK Heads of Modern Languages network, the All-party Parliamentary Group for Modern Languages, and the Chartered Institute of Linguists. My previous roles include School Head of Postgraduate Studies (Taught) and Welfare, Programme Lead for Modern Languages degrees, Elected Member of the University Senate, and Honorary Secretary of the Society for French Studies.
As a researcher, my essential aim has been to understand a range of French and European experimental culture by combining close textual analysis with an openness to whichever other fields seem productive, be they poetics and psychoanalysis, or Buddhism and historiography. This is reflected in my most recent monograph, Dada as Text, Thought and Theory (Oxford: Legenda Research Monographs in French Studies, 2015). The book was shortlisted for the 2016 Gapper Book Prize, run by the Society for French Studies. My monograph on Dada follows Modernist Song: The Poetry of Tristan Tzara (Oxford: Legenda, 2006) and a special issue of Nottingham French Studies co-edited with Emma Wagstaff on the French avant-garde (2011). In my own articles and book chapters I have pursued interests in the relationship between the European avant-garde and war, madness, sexuality, politics and history. I have taken up invitations to deliver keynotes and teaching at the Universities of Amsterdam, Bucharest, Oxford and Toronto, and at the Romanian Embassy in Paris.
I greatly enjoy teaching and I draw regularly on my research interests in lectures and seminars. Indeed, the avant-garde lends itself strongly to the sense of difficulty, analysis, debate, humour and risk that can be vital to learning.