Hello and welcome. I am Professor of Modern English Literature, and currently Head of the English Department, at the University of Lausanne. My background is trans-Atlantic: English, Scottish, Canadian. I also partly grew up in New York. As an undergraduate, I studied Classics at Yale, then English Literature at Oxford; I stayed on at Oxford to write a DPhil on Virgil and Milton. My first academic post was as a visiting lecturer at the Charles University in Prague, which was then witnessing the end of the Velvet Revolution. This Eastern European spell was followed by 17 years at Sheffield University, in the Peak District of northern England. I took up my post as professeure ordinaire at the University of Lausanne in 2010.
‘By the waters of Léman’ is a resonant spot for studying English Literature, being the birth-place of T S Eliot’s The Waste Land, Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, Joseph Conrad’s Under Western Eyes, Nabokov’s Pale Fire, Muriel Spark’s Finishing School, John Le Carré’s The Constant Gardener, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Byron’s The Prisoner of Chillon, P B Shelley’s Mont Blanc, Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, as well as more recently featuring in Robert MacFarlane’s Mountains of the Mind.
My own research interests span from classical to contemporary literature. Some past research projects include: studies of the poet-musician Orpheus; katabasis, or the descent to Hell from Virgil, and Dante, to modern, secular writing including literature of the Holocaust ; children’s literature read by adults (crossover fiction); re-reading; arts-science synergies; Mikhail Bakhtin and dialogism; post-9/11 fiction.
My current research focuses on contemporary poetry, either in its relation to classical literature, or in its exploration of the relationship between humanity and the natural world. I am also very interested in analogues and contiguities between poetry and music, and their different dependencies on voice (human and non-), attentive listening, and the resources of the auditory imagination. The bird in the photo above is a loon, in Algonquin Park, Northern Ontario. If you have heard its song coming across a vast lake in the evening, perhaps you’ll agree there are many sources of music beyond the human.