Though an American citizen, I have lived in the UK since coming to Oxford on a Tanner Foundation Scholarship for postgraduate study in English. I took an MPhil in English, 1900 – present, at St Hugh’s College, where as a graduate student I was MCR President. I quickly became a peripatetic lecturer here at Oxford, and held college lectureships at St Hugh’s, New College, St John’s, Wadham, Corpus and Lincoln before being elected, in 1991, to an Official Fellowship in English here at Exeter. As well as teaching English, in my time at Exeter I have been Tutor for Admissions, Tutor for Women, Senior Tutor, Fellow for Strategy, and Sub-Rector (deputy head of the College, and also Disciplinary Dean).
Growing up in Arizona, I could not have imagined that I would spend my life teaching English literature at Oxford, but that early upbringing made me a passionate advocate for opening up the opportunities that the university and college tutorial system offer to able students from whatever background. I have been involved with, and directed, the English summer widening participation programmes, first from the outset with the Sutton Trust scheme, and more recently with UNIQ; both are devoted to widening access to Oxford. (You can earn more about UNIQ here.)
My own academic work centres on the major writers in Modernist Literature, particularly James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, and on Literary Theory (particularly Feminist and Queer Literary Theory) and Textual Theory, including various aspects of bibliographical theory: editing, copyright, history of the book, material text. With Oxford University Press, I have published editions of Joyce’s principal works – Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses, all in the World’s Classics series – while for Penguin I edited Virginia Woolf’s late novel The Years, and a collection of Sigmund Freud’s writings of psychosexuality, The Psychology of Love.
More colourfully, perhaps, I have sometimes acted as an expert witness in literary copyright trials, most significantly acting for J. K. Rowling and Warner Brothers in a US copyright case involving the online website The Harry Potter Lexicon (Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc. and J.K. Rowling v. RDR Books et al., 07 Civ. 9667, United States District Court, Southern District of New York, 2008). Happily, we won! This led, in the College’s 700th anniversary year, to J. K. Rowling graciously agreeing to be interviewed by me to a capacity crowd in the Sheldonian Theatre.
I have more than once been on the BBC Radio 4 programme, In Our Times, and other BBC broadcasts, usually talking about James Joyce.
You can read what the New York Times reporter thought of my expert witness testimony in the Rowling case here.