Senior Lecturer in 19th Century Writing, Department of English, American Studies & Creative Writing
My work focuses on the cultural creativity of working-class people during the Victorian period. I’m particularly interested in the role of cultural production in enabling and strengthening democratic practices.
My major work to date has been on the poetry of Chartist movement. I’m is the author of The Poetry of Chartism: Aesthetics, Politics & History (2009).
Currently, I’m part of the AHRC-funded Piston, Pen & Press project, researching the ways in which the industrial working class engaged with literary culture in the 19th century. I’m becoming increasingly interested in the culture of the Co-operative Movement.
Public engagement highlights
I particularly enjoy working with musicians and actors to find ways of translating academic research into creative performances. As part of my work on the Chartist Hymn Book, I worked with Corista (a small choir in the Calder Valley) who set some of the hymns to music (our work was featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme in 2013).
The singer-songwriter, Garth Hewitt, also made an album featuring these hymns and, in addition to writing the sleeve notes for his album, I performed with Garth at the Greenbelt Festival in 2014.
In 2015, I collaborated with Townsend Productions and the Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre on a show called On The Road To Freedom. The same year saw my first collaboration with Jennifer Reid, aka the ‘Broadside Balladress’, on A Hundred in One Hundred – 100 years of working-class history in a hundred minutes of words and songs.
Best public engagement advice
Breathe deeply before starting to speak, don’t gabble, trust your audience.
Find out more
- From Paul Weller to Peterloo (People’s History Museum)
- Piston, Pen and Press
- Making Better Rhymes: Chartist Poetry and Working Class Struggle (Culture Matters)
- Mike’s research profile