My research interests lie in the different ways in which the written and the spoken word are experienced, and in the relationships between text and voice, page and body. Poetry, a primal language that engages our hearts, minds and bodies, through sound and through image, is therefore a natural focus.
Poetry and memory
The Poetry and Memory Project is an interdisciplinary investigation into the value and experience of the memorised poem. It was initially funded for three years by the Leverhulme Foundation, with me as the full-time researcher, alongside David Whitley. Whilst the Poetry and Memory project is focused on the distinctive experience of the memorised poem, this leads naturally to a consideration of the experience and value of recitation or other kinds of performance.The project yielded a very rich set of data on which we continue to work as well as exploring possibilities for further development and sharing the findings with a variety of audiences. Watch this space.
Poetry for children
The connection between childhood and poetry runs deep. And yet, poetry written for children has been neglected by criticism and resists prevailing theories of children's literature. Drawing on Walter Ong's theory of orality and on Iain McGilChrist's work on brain laterality, my PhD set out to develop a theoretical framework for the study of children's poetry. This has now been developed into a book. Published in Spring 2017, From Tongue to Text argues that the poem is a multimodal form that exists in the borderlands between the world of experience and the world of language and between orality and literacy – places that children themselves inhabit.
I do some teaching at on the 'Critical Approaches to Children's Literature' Masters course, and on the 'Children and Literature' paper in the Education Tripos – both at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education.