My research and teaching focus on the novel from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, the history of gender and sexuality, and the relations of literature to the visual arts. As a teacher and critic, I am concerned with the way works of art both respond to and imaginatively transform their culture.
I also enjoy writing on a variety of literary and other topics for a wider public in the London Review of Books and elsewhere. Among my recent books, Art of the Everyday (2007) concerns seventeenth-century Dutch painting as a model for literary realism and includes chapters on Balzac, George Eliot, Hardy, and Proust.
Picture Titles: How and Why Western Paintings Acquired Their Names (2015) asks how the naming of pictures has shaped their reception from the Renaissance to the present day.