I am a Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.
I’m also an Associate Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London.
In 2017 I’ll be a Visting Fellow at St Catherine’s College, Oxford.
I teach rhetoric, persuasion, the language of the media and advertising, and non-fiction.
I’m interested in hidden agendas, rhetoric, ideology and propaganda. My academic career began in Renaissance studies. I wrote a PhD on how Judaism became politicised in debates between Christian factions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This was published as a monograph in 2007.
I’ve also written about how ‘tolerance’ is often a cover for intolerance. I edited a collection of essays on tolerance in the early modern and contemporary worlds. It was featured in the ‘History Matters’ section of History Today. The collection was published by Palgrave.
More recently, I’ve written about contemporary politics and culture: how ideology is a way of setting out your vision for a better society, but also how it’s used to deceive. I’m interested in how ideology has become toxic in the 21st century, and how the disavowal of ideology is the most ideological position of all. My work also explores how public opinion is formed by persuasion, both overt and covert.
I’m also interested in the ideology of natural childbirth, cyber-utopianism, and freedom and determinism.
I like organising conferences and events. These include:
A symposium on what’s happened to time at Birkbeck in November 2016.
A symposium on ‘What should the state do?’ at All Souls, Oxford in June 2016.
A public event on bureaucracy at the Institute of Contemporary Arts with David Graeber, Mark Fisher and Jeremy Gilbert in 2015. This was the result of a knowledge exchange project with the National Audit Office, artists and academics to explore the curious burgeoning of modern bureaucracy.
A public conference on ‘Postpolitics and Neoliberalism’ at Birkbeck and Canterbury Christ Church in 2015.
A conference at Birkbeck on the subject of ‘Ideology Now’ in 2012.
Two conferences at Birkbeck on the subject of ‘tolerance’.
I have recently given papers at Brighton University on ‘Complicity’, at a panel at Kings College London on ‘Meritocracy’, and at a conference at the University of Nottingham on ‘Ideology’.
I have given keynote lectures at the International Graduate Conference at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Coimbra, Portugal, and twice at Central St Martins as part of their ‘Bigger Picture’ lecture series.
I have also given academic talks at Birkbeck, Oxford, Cambridge, KCL, UCL, Queen Mary, Trinity College Dublin, Sussex, and the Museum of London. I was a judge for the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize in 2006.
Here is a list of my publications:
‘Post-politics and the Future of the Left’, Juncture 22.1 (Summer 2015)
‘If ideology is dead, how can the new politics find its voice?’ New Economics Foundation working paper (2014). This paper received extensive coverage in the Guardian, New Statesman and OpenDemocracy.
‘Beyond Bullshit Jobs’, Soundings 57 (2014) An article exploring the ideological function of pointless labour.
‘Fraud of the Rings’ in Mark Perryman, ed., London 2012: How Was it for Us? (Lawrence and Wishart, 2013). An essay on the political and cultural meaning of the Olympics.
Religious Tolerance in the Atlantic World: Early Modern and Contemporary Perspectives: I edited this collection of essays. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). This collection was the subject of a ‘History Matters’ feature I wrote for History Today in January 2014.
Judaism without Jews: Philosemitism and Christian Polemic in Early Modern England, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). This book is a revised version of my Ph.D. thesis, and was one of the Jewish Chronicle’s Books of the Year. It analyses the polemical uses of Judaism in early modern political and religious debate.
‘”A Parallel Made with the Jewish Sanhedrin”: Tolerating Jews and Jewish Precedents in the Early Modern Church and State’ in Matthew Dimmock and Andrew Hadfield, eds, The Religions of the Book: Christian Perceptions, 1400-1660 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).
I have also published a number of academic journal articles and book reviews on early modern political and religious controversy.