I studied History at the University of Warwick, and also undertook an exchange year to the University of South Carolina. My MA, also at Warwick, was in English Religious and Social History 1500-1700. I stayed on at Warwick to do my PhD, supervised by Professor Bernard Capp, on 'Place and Potential in New World Travel Literature, 1607-1660'. After temporary appointments at Warwick and Oxford Brookes, in 2007 I took up a post in American History at Manchester Metropolitan University, where, among other posts, I was programme leader for the taught MA history degree. I became a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2013 and I was appointed Lecturer in Modern History at Loughborough in January 2014.
I am an historian of colonial North America and the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. My main area of focus is the relationship between representations of the landscape and a changing conception of identity in migrant groups. I examine print cultural networks in the Atlantic world, looking at the authorship, production and distribution of printed material from 1660 to 1800. In the field of book history, I am co-editor, with Simon Eliot, of the journal Publishing History. Another focus is the history of slavery in a transnational context and I am especially interested in the ways that slavery in different times and places is taught in the school and university classroom.
Currently I am working on several projects. With Lydia Plath and Lawrence Aje I am researching non-traditional slave holding in the Atlantic World, bringing together scholars working on slave-holding by free blacks, Native Americans, poor whites and women. I am personally interested in slavery on the margins: how slaves understood the physical landscape at the edges of and off the plantation. A second project reflects my interest in oral history as a therapeutic tool and explores how reminiscing might be used to improve the wellbeing of isolated elderly people. Finally, I am leading a project which will gather the histories and memories of members of the transgender community of the East Midlands, working in collaboration with academic and non-academic partners as part of the ‘Gendered Lives’ research group.