I joined Loughborough in September 2014 as Professor of Drama, having previously been Dean of Research and the Graduate School and Professor of Drama at Falmouth University. Before that I was Head of Research at the Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Glamorgan, where I also ran two research centres. I gained my PhD from the University of Exeter in 1997 for a study of the performance of oral narrative traditions amongst teenagers in Britain and Ireland.
I am a member of the Programme Advisory Boards for the RCUK’s programme on the Digital Economy (led by EPSRC) and the AHRC’s programmes on Digital Transformations and Connected Communities. I am also a member of the AHRC Strategic Reviewers Group and Chair the British Council’s Arts and Humanities Panel for the Researcher Links and Institutional Links Programme (Newton Fund).
My main research interests lie in the field of popular and vernacular performance and I have published extensively on Storytelling (and its social and policy applications), Grand-Guignol and Brecht and his collaborators. In particular, my work on storytelling has led me to work on the interface between storytelling and digital technology and the way in which the internet has enabled the telling and sharing of ‘extraordinary’ stories of the everyday experiences of people. I have recently been, or am currently, the Principal Investigator on several RCUK-funded projects:
- ‘ASPECT’, looking at the use of storytelling and technology to reframe the public debate around climate change, in partnership with DECC
- ‘Taking the Field’, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the MCC, using technology to collect and disseminate the stories and oral histories of grassroots cricket communities in the UK and Sri Lanka
- ‘The University of the Village’, a Connected Communities project in collaboration with the Universities of Surrey and Glamorgan and BT, exploring the use of Superfast Broadband to link universities and rural communities
- ‘The Rural Connective’, a collaboration with BT and dot.rural, the Digital Economy Hub at the University of Aberdeen, which has built a network of stakeholders looking at ways of using new broadband capability to unlock the creative and cultural capital within rural communities.
- ‘Loneliness in the Digital Age’, a collaboration between the Universities of Bath, Exeter, Lincoln and Newcastle, which emerged from the ESRC Emoticon Sandpit exploring empathy and trust in online communications.
- ‘The EMoTICON Network’, a collaboration with the University of Leeds, which brings together the five projects funded under the ESRC’s Empathy and Trust in Online Communications programme and also extends the network to other researchers in the same field.
I am also Co-investigator on two major RCUK projects: ‘Creative Practice as Mutual Recovery’, a collaboration led by the Institute of Mental Health at the University of Nottingham, exploring the value of creative interventions as a tool for mutual recovery in the field of Mental Health (AHRC Connected Communities) and also on ‘DRY: Drought Resilience and You’, a £4.3m NERC-funded initiative in collaboration with the University of the West of England, Exeter, Dundee, Warwick, Sheffield, CEH Wallingford amongst others.
I would welcome applications for doctoral study in any area of popular performance and storytelling.
Selected External Activity
- 2006 Patron of the Northern Centre for Storytelling, Grasmere, Cumbria
- 2007 Member of Working Group for collaborative scheme between AHRC and British Telecom
- 2007 Member of UK Delegation to AHRC/FCO UK/Brazil Workshop on Innovation and Creative Economy
- 2007 Member of Judging Panel for Royal Television Society’s Student Awards (Wales Region)
- 2008 Member of Digital Economy Programme Advisory Board, Research Councils UK/EPSRC
- 2008 International Expert of The Romanian Agency for Quality Evaluation in Higher Education (ARACIS)
- 2009 Appointed member of Peer Review College, Arts and Humanities Research Council with particular expertise on Knowledge Transfer.
- 2010 Peer Reviewer for Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS)
- 2010 Member of Management Committee for dot.rural (Rural Digital Economy Hub at the University of Aberdeen)
- 2010 Member of Steering Committee for Digital Economy Research Hub for Wales (Welsh Assembly Government)
- 2011 Member AHRC Digital Transformations Theme Advisory Group
- 2011 Member Advisory Group for AHRC-funded project ‘After the Flood’ (PI: Professor Steve Bottoms, University of Leeds)
- 2011 Member of Advisory Group for AHRC-funded project ‘Re-thinking and Re-connecting Communities with and through Water Issues’ (PI Dr Owain Jones, University of the West of England)
- 2012 External consultant for Research Excellence Framework, University of Sunderland
- 2012 Chair, Steering Committee for Digital Economy: Communities and Culture Network Plus (EPSRC)
- 2012 Judge for Theatre Book Prize (Society for Theatre Research)
- 2013 Presenter and Panel Member for AHRC/NESTA Digital R&D Forum, Manchester
- 2013 Member AHRC Connected Communities Strategic Advisory Group
- 2013 Member of AHRC Strategic Reviewers Group
- 2013 Member of Programme Committee for All Hands Digital Economy Conference, University of Salford/Media City
- 2013 Elected External Fellow of the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham
- 2014 Member of Advisory Board for ‘Stories of Change: Exploring energy and community in the past, present and future’ (AHRC Connected Communities, Environment and Sustainability Large Grant, PI: Dr Joe Smith, Open University)
- 2014 Member of Advisory Board for Centre for Research in Comic and Popular Performance (University of Kent)
- 2014 Expert Peer Reviewer on Arts and Humanities for UK National Ecosystems Assessment, World Conservation Monitoring Centre, United Nations Environment Programme
- 2014 Chair of British Council Arts and Humanities Selection Panel for Researcher Links and Institutional Links (Newton Fund) Initiative
- 2014 Advisor for ‘Seannachies: Addressing Social Isolation through Storytelling’ (Scottish Universities Insight Institute, PI: Dr Lynn-Sayers McHattie, Glasgow School of Art)
- Regular interviews/appearances on BBC local and regional radio (BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Northern Ireland, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Cornwall)
- BBC Radio Wales, newspaper reviewer on Good Morning Wales
- Interviewee (with Richard Hand) on documentary feature on Grand-Guignol Theatre for DVD of Sweeney Todd (dir. Tim Burton), Sparkhill Productions, Los Angeles.
- Interviewee on documentary on Fairy Tales for Sky Movies.
- Interviewee on documentary on Kick into Reading Storytelling Project, BBC Wales/Boomerang TV