I began my career as a historian of the nineteenth century, working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on a Leverhulme-funded project at Cambridge University entitled ‘Past versus Present: Abandoning the Past in an Age of Progress’. I arrived at Birmingham in 2010 and my first monograph, Dialogues with the Dead: Egyptology in British Culture and Religion was published by Oxford University Press in 2013 alongside an edited collection with Michael Ledger Lomas, Cities of God: the Bible and Archaeology in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2014). After that, I wrote The Victorians: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld, 2016), which was intended to be my last publication on the nineteenth century before leaving it behind.
My new research is on coasts, oceans and the communities and species that occupy them. It involves first-person narrative writing, formed around long-distance ocean kayak journeys, and includes The Frayed Atlantic Edge: a Historian’s Journey from Shetland to the Channel (Harper Collins, 2019) as well as articles such as ‘Time, Space & Islands’, Past & Present (May 2019).
My work has been featured on BBC Breakfast TV, BBC2, Smithsonian Television, at the Hay Festival and the Edinburgh Festival, and I’ve written for media including the Times Literary Supplement, The Scotsman and The Big Issue. I’ve been nominated for teaching awards in every full year’s teaching I’ve done at Birmingham and in 2013 was awarded the Head of School's Award for Excellence in Teaching (History and Cultures), the Head of College's Award for Excellence in Teaching (Arts & Law) and the Aston Webb Award for Outstanding Early-Career Academic. In 2015-17 I was a fellow of the Intercontinental Academy, convening in Sao Paulo and Nagoya, to produce collaborative work between the humanities and sciences on the concept of Time, and in 2018 I was a Moore Fellow at the National University of Ireland Galway.
I have also been Admissions Tutor for History since September 2018.