I teach the theory of the book, very broadly defined, and work on the history of reading from the eighteenth century to the present. My recent research has been into the history of reading as an activity that is both materially defined by the codex format, and politically tied up with the history of work and leisure. Reading and the Making of Time (JHU, 2018) explores these themes in the context of a group of eighteenth-century readers, largely women, and mostly professionals, who make and struggle for time for books in their lives. Love and the Novel (Profile Press, 2022) explores the role of reading in my own life.
I am now at work on Paid Leaves: Literature, Work, and Time since 1970, which explores the way different strands of twentieth-century theory have imagined the reorganization of the worker’s day and the time to be given to education. I am interested in particular in the work of Michel Serres, Jacques Rancière, Peter Weiss, Siegfried Kracauer, Hannah Arendt, and Raymond Williams and in recent fictions that engage with the relationship between work, reading, and temporal experience.
I have held Leverhulme Fellowship and Humboldt Fellowship fellowships and am now the PI on a Carlsberg Foundation Project, The Experience of Reading During Covid-19 Lockdowns. I also write on contemporary issues and media use for publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Los Angeles Review of Books, Public Books, n+1 and the TLS, and I speak regularly in both European and North American contexts on contemporary and eighteenth-century themes.