Nigel studied English Language and Literature at University College, Oxford, gaining a first. His further degrees involve the award of MA at Indiana University for a study of early twentieth-century US productions of The Merchant of Venice and a PhD from Durham University (after winning a Sir James Knott scholarship) on John Dryden and Alexander Pope. He has taught at Indiana, Evansville, Leicester, Birmingham and De Montfort universities before Loughborough, and has been either a Head of Department or Section for (in all) 12 years at three institutions.

In addition, Nigel won awards of short-term Fellowships at Yale (at the Beinecke Library), the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas and UCLA (at the Clark Library). On a virtual basis, he is now a Folger Institute (Washington DC)  fellow until September, 2021, and is Assistant Secretary of the Subject Association for English Studies (2018-). From 1998-2002, Nigel was Secretary of University English, and chaired sub-committees on Graduate Employment and Life-Long Humanities Education, contributing to UE’s report on Literary Value, published in 2001.

Since 2020, Nigel has transferred to the Politics, International Relations and History Section at Loughborough and he also contributes to delivery in Communication and Media, mainly in Screen Studies. His main literary interests derive from work on an edition of Evelyn Waugh’s novel, Put Out More Flags, an item in the Oxford University Press’s Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh project, and a biography of Alexander Pope for Princeton University Press. Nigel is also involved in developing research teaching in Eco-philosophy and the Literary Public Sphere.

Nigel's edition of She Stoops to Conquer and Other Eighteenth-Century Comedies (Fielding's The Modern Husband, Garrick and Colman's The Clandestine Marriage and O'Keeffe's Wild Oats as well as the Goldsmith play) for Oxford University Press was published in May 2007. The third edition of the Modern Criticism and Theory reader (edited with David Lodge) was published in January, 2008, a doubling in size of the second edition, and, for the first time, introducing and annotating key texts that illustrate Ecocriticism, Post-Theory and Hypertext editorial and cultural theory. The Reader has amassed sales world-wide of 9,000 copies and remains a key text in the teaching of Theory at some 25 institutions (as of 2020).

Without sacrificing the philosophical detail of theoretical propositions, Nigel tends to focus on how a range of literary theories bear on academic critical practice. The general editing of the Theory in Practice series for Open University Press (1993-6) provided an opportunity to investigate how texts might act upon the theory deployed and vice versa. He edited and contributed to the volumes on The Prelude, Mansfield Park, Don Juan, The Waste Land, A Passage to India, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV (Parts I and 2), Measure for Measure, Antony and Cleopatra and Hamlet. Essays from this series have been reprinted in over thirty collections of modern critical debate.

The editing work on dramatic texts runs alongside occasional advisory work for the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as lectures at the Shakespeare Institute and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare's Globe. The staging of texts poses especially acute problems for abstract hypotheses about performance and a text's producibility, and he has directed several student productions, at festivals and tours, both at home and abroad, including Hamlet, The Winter's Tale, David Edgar's Ball Boys, Wycherley's The Country Wife and Brian Friel's Translations.

This interest in context is maintained in his work on satire, especially the prose and poetry of Jonathan Swift. His study of his rhetorical technique in Swift (1986) attempted to apply deconstructive insights to his precarious relationships, linguistic as well as cultural, to contemporary tastes. He has also edited the Longman Critical Reader volume on Swift (1999). Other eighteenth-century work includes a volume of essays on John Gay and an edition of selected diaries and journals of Frances Burney, plus Leverhulme- and AHRB-funded projects on Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (at Birmingham University) and a late twentieth-century century archive of children's books (at De Montfort University).

Nigel's Shakespeare and Reception Theory appeared in 2020, capitalising on his editing of a Special Number for Shakespeare (2018) on “Shakespeare and the Public Sphere”. The latest Shakespeare Survey volume (2021) contains his thoughts on “Taking Love’s Labour’s Lost Seriously”, applying the emphases of Early Modern primers on grammar and rhetoric to an assessment of Elizabethan comedy.

Any enquiries about postgraduate work in any of these areas would be welcome, as would interest in the English MAs.  

Nigel's most recent teaching has centred on Philosophy and Cultural Theory; he contributes to the Philosophy strand of the Politics, Philosophy and Economics programme, and to the development of a Screen Studies strand in several programmes. He leads the Skills module for first-year students – Smart Scholarship – and also contributes to Cultural Theory programmes across the School.

Nigel has also led many modules in English and Drama, including “Contemporary Shakespeare” work that led directly into some of the case-studies in his Shakespeare work.

Nigel has given invited lectures at many institutions overseas, most recently – over the last five years - at the Huntington Institute in California, at UCLA, the Folger Institute (Washington DC), the Universities of Malta, Pescara, Pisa and Kolkata.

He is also a member of the Midlands Universities Transformative Research project, where his main focus is on training initiatives on Global Citizenship.

Books:

  • Swift (Harvester New Readings series) (1986)
  • (ed. with Peter Lewis) John Gay and the Scriblerians (Vision Press, 1988) - critical essays from the Tercentenary Conference I organized in July, 1985 at Collingwood College, Durham.   I wrote the Introduction (pp.11-22) and “John Gay and the Ironies of Rustic Simplicity” (pp. 94-121)
  • (ed.) Dr. Johnson and Fanny Burney: Selections from the Early Prose,1777-88 (Bristol Classical Press, 1989)
  • (ed.) Selected Letters of Fanny Burney (Oxford Text Archive, 1989)
  • (ed.) Mansfield Park (Open University Press) Theory in Practice series -1993) - also a volume Introduction (pp.3-38), Introductions to each essay (30-32, 56-              58, 91-92, 121-24) and Endpiece (198-202)
  • (ed.) Don Juan (TiP series - 1993) - volume Introduction (pp.4-37), Introductions to each essay (26-28, 56-57, 90-92, 122-24) and Endpiece (pp.189-94)
  • (ed.) The Prelude (TiP series - 1993) - volume Introduction (pp.3-40), Introductions to each essay (27-29, 60-62, 98-100, 125-28) and Endpiece (pp.192-98)
  • (ed. with Tony Davies) The Waste Land (TiP series - 1994) - volume Introduction (pp.1-28)
  • (ed. with Tony Davies) A Passage to India (TiP series - 1994) – Introductions to each essay (23-24, 65-67, 90-93, 121-23) and Endpiece (144-49)
  • (ed.) The Tempest (TiP series - 1995) - volume introduction (pp.1-29), Introduction to each essay (25-27, 58-60, 92-94, 133-35) and Endpiece (194-97)
  • (ed.) Henry IV, Parts I and II (TiP series - 1995) - volume introduction (pp.1-34), Introduction to each essay (35-37, 65-67, 92-94, 126-28), and Endpiece (162-69)
  • (ed.) The Merchant of Venice (TiP series - 1996) - volume introduction (pp.1-22), Introduction to each essay (23-24, 57-60, 102-3, 124-26), and Endpiece (164-68)
  • (ed.) Measure for Measure (TiP series - 1996) - volume introduction (pp.1-8), Introduction to each essay (9-11, 44-46, 90-91, 133-35) and Endpiece (179-81)
  • (ed.) Antony and Cleopatra (TiP series - 1996) - volume introduction (pp.1-8), Introduction to each essay (9-11, 40-43, 66-67, 92-95), and Endpiece (125-27)
  • (ed. with Peter J. Smith) Hamlet (TiP series - 1996) - Introduction to each essay (pp.24-26, 55-56, 83-84, 108-10), and Endpiece (133-37)
  • (ed.) Swift: The Longman Critical Reader (1999)
  • (rev. and expanded) Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader, 2nd. ed., 1st. ed. by David Lodge (2000 – enlarged electronic edition, 2001).
  • (rev. and expanded) Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader, 3rd. ed. (including 25 new essays; a volume of 879 pages – 2008),
  • Introductory essay and annotated bibliography entry on Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 (LPPublishing, 2019)
  • Shakespeare and Reception Theory (Arden Shakespeare, 2020) 

Articles:

  • “Touring the Peaks: Cotton and Defoe’s Tourism”, The Seventeenth-Century, II (1985), 124-35
  • “Keats’ Smokeable Narratives: Isabella and The Eve of St. Agnes”, Proceedings of the English Association North, II (1986), 90-102
  • “Barthes and Foucault on Simplicity”, Cross-References (1986) (French Studies special No.), ed. David Kelley and Isabella Llasera, pp.45-55
  • “The English Andrew Motion”, Poetry Durham, No.21 (Summer, 1989), 31-36
  • “Graham Greene and the Image of the Author”, Graham Greene in Perspective,   ed. Peter Erlebach and Thomas Michael Stein (Peter Lang, 1992), pp.32-45
  • The General, Prose and Drama chapters for the Eighteenth Century section in the 1991-94 (vols. 72-75) Year’s Work in English Studies
  • “Mocking the Heroic: A New Context for The Rape of the Lock?”,in Cutting Edges: Post-Modern Views on Satire, ed. James T. Gill (Tennessee UP (1996), pp.171-202
  • “Conversation and Connection in Johnson’s Dictionary”, Yearbook of English Studies, ed. Andrew Gurr (English Association, 1998) pp.123-46
  • “How does Hamlet End ?”, in Talking Shakespeare, ed. Deborah Cartmell and Michael Scott (Palgrave Press [Macmillan], 2001), pp. 34-54.
  • “Gulliver as Traveller”, in Contexts of Literature, ed. Rick Rylance and Judy Simons (Palgrave, 2002), pp. 67-88.
  • Ut sculptura poesis: Romantic Poetry and Sculptural Form”, in British Poetry and Art, ed. Thomas Frangenburg (Peter Arne, 2005), pp. 236-56
  • “Official and Unofficial Spleen”, in  Depression and After, ed. Allan Ingram and Juliette Otres (Montpellier, 2011), pp. 45-57
  • “Brecht, Said and a Humanist Coriolanus”, in Humanism and After, ed. Andrew Mousley (Palgrave, 2011), pp. 65-80.
  • “Shakespeare and the Public Sphere”, Shakespeare, 5 (2013), 54-78,
  • “Framing Clarissa’s Good Sense in The Rape of the Lock”, Essays in Criticism (2013), 393-410,
  • “Pope and the Horatian Voice”, Vision and Voice in Eighteenth-Century Verse, ed. Rowena Fowler and Alan Ingram (Palgrave, 2014), pp. 67-89,
  • (ed.) Shakespeare special number (November 2018) – “Introduction” and “The ending of Twelfth Night”, 2-21, 54-68.,
  • “Powell’s Modernism”, in The Anthony Powell Society Conference – Merton College, Oxford, 2018, ed. Keith Marshall and Jeremy Warren (Anthony Powell Society, 2019), pp. 101-14,
  •  “Digitally Post-Human: Living On and After” , Countertext (6.1, 2020), 78-101, 
  • “Evelyn Waugh and the Military Life”, in Peter Vassallo: A Festschrift (Mersea Press, 2020), pp. 65-87,
  • “Taking Love’s Labour’s Lost Seriously”, Shakespeare Survey (2021), 208-221.

Nigel has also reviewed regularly over the last five years for the British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies.   Reviews have also appeared in the London Review of Books, Review of English Studies, Cahiers Elisabethains, The Byron Journal, Archiv, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Shakespeare Quarterly and Shakespeare Survey.